791 VIE

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WARNING.— The person in whose name this vehicle is displayed may or may not be the current owner of the vehicle. Readers are warned, therefore, that this entry is not proof of ownership.


Registration Mark
791 VIE
(a) Type:
Type 1
(b) Year:
(c) Colour:
Phoenix Red
(d) Paint code:
(e) Engine CCs:


(a) Country of origin:
(b) County first reg'd:
(c) Current or last known location:

Model information

1303 Karmann Beetle Cabriolet


One of the things that inspired us to begin the Beetle.ie project were the many stories that each old VW and their owners gather over the years and this is one such example. This may look like an ordinary convertible Beetle to you, and in many ways you are right, it is a standard looking Karmann Beetle Cabriolet but it’s the back story (and current story) that interests us.

Look a little closer and you might just spot the rare, Italian market only indicator covers. The Italian market VWs were slightly different in that the government insisted that all cars have a side indicator so to overcome this issue, all Beetles bound for Italy were fitted with these unique wing top indicator covers with a cutout on the outer side, enabling all road users to see the indicator. Now very rare accessories around the globe, they were once the norm in Italy.

Another unique feature with many Italian specification Beetles was the engine size. While most European 1303 Karmann Beetles were equipped with a 1300cc engine and its more powerful 1303S sibling was equipped with a 1600cc engine, this was not the case in Italy. Due to high road tax, which was based on engine CCs, most Italian buyers would order their 1303 and 1303S Beetles with 1200cc engines. All of the model specific extras would still apply, with the only difference being the smaller engine.

This 1973 Italian Specification 1303 Karmann Beetle Cabriolet was no different, being ordered by its Italian dealer as a 1303 but with a factory fitted 1200cc engine instead of the 1300cc unit.

By 1986 the Beetle had made its way to the UK for a LHD to RHD conversion and then it hit the Irish shore. It was registered in County Clare, hence the VIE registration.

The original 1200cc engine was replaced by the Old Volks Home shortly after arriving in Ireland. For the next 10 years the Beetle stayed with the same owner before being sold on to a prominent Irish hotelier who engaged with Emilio’s Beetles to carry out a full restoration, including a new engine, which took place in 1997/8.

Again, another long term ownership for this Beetle, this time it was 19 years with the owner before he decided the time was right to sell his pride and joy, but he didn’t sell it to just any owner. At the same time that the then current owner was thinking of selling his Beetle, the daughter of the first Irish owner had begun a search for her father’s old Beetle. After a Google search for Beetles in Ireland, Eimlio’s Beetles popped up so a call was made to Emilio himself to see if he knew anything about her family’s old Beetle. Little did she know that this Beetle was a regular site at Emilio’s Beetles over the years, not only for its full restoration but for regular maintenance. Emilio was delighted to be able to put both parties in touch and we can now report that the Beetle is back in the family again!

As I said, every old VW has a story to tell, you just have to dig a bit to find it!

The older of our photos shows this Convertible at a VW show in Howth back in 1988. The newer photos show the Beetle as it is today, looking better than ever and retaining its stock look, with the only deviation being the wider than normal wheels which have also been chromed to add to the wow factor. We snapped this Karmann Beetle at the ‘German Car Day’ at Cars & Coffee Limerick which was then held on November 5th 2017 at the Factory Cafe in Castletroy.

Additional Photos