By the late 1960s the Beetle had enjoyed over twenty years of continuous production, dominated its home market and conquered export markets all around the world. Volkswagen's policy of constant improvement and refinement to a single model appeared to be vindicated. However, 1968 saw the death of Heinz Nordoff, who was the driving force behind the Beetle's evolution and continued success. In many ways, this was a watershed year; the 1968 model introduced many significant changes to the car, and it became inevitable that a replacement for the venerable Beetle would have to be developed. This book charts the closing years of the Beetle's production life in Germany; from the revamped 1968 model to the 1302, 1303, the Cabriolet, and the various Specials produced in later years.
Richard Copping was born in Yorkshire in 1954 and attended Batley Boys Grammar school. One of the masters alternated his mode of transport between a Bentley and a VW Beetle. After completing his education in York where he studied history, Richard acquired his first car. A legacy financed the purchase of a VW Beetle if not a Bentley!
Richard's ownership slowly developed into enthusiasm for the marque and he became a regular on the merry-go-round of each summer's Volkswagen shows where he amassed a modest collection of trophies for his efforts with a polishing cloth. Graduating at a snail's pace from competitor to worshipful judge, a task he still undertakes today, Richard volunteered his services as editor of a club magazine in 1994, a post he held for the next seven years. Towards the end of his tenure of office he was contacted by Ivan Hirst, the former REME Major who had been the senior resident officer at Wolfsburg in the immediate post-war period. The octogenarian wished to compliment him on his writing style and the contents of his articles, one of the greatest accolades any Volkswagen fan could expect. Shortly afterwards, Richard was similarly flattered when the editor of a national VW magazine asked him to contribute articles. The hobby and passion was about to change direction once more!
Everyone allegedly believes they have one book inside them and boosted by events Richard was determined to see his out and published. Thanks to the auspices of Rod Grainger of Veloce Publishing, 'VW Beetle - the Car of the 20th Century' was published in 2001. However, a one-off it was not to be. More titles followed, from history books to buyers' and specification guides.
Over the years he has written for The Crowood Press, his most recent work being 'Volkswagen T3 1979 - 1982', Haynes Publishing, Shire Publications, Trans-Pennine now Crécy Publications, and J Salmon Ltd, the calendar and postcard people. For a variety of reasons some volumes have been written using the pseudonyms of James Richardson and Jonathan Harvey although all future titles will be under the name of Richard Copping. A percentage of the books to date have been written in partnership with fellow enthusiast Ken Cservenka, while the mighty 400 page and 90,000 word volume 'Volkswagen Transporter - the first 60 years', published in 2009, was prepared in collaboration with another VW fan of long-standing, Brian Screaton.
As of February 2011 Richard has 20 titles to his name, covering both past and present Volkswagen models and ranging from semi-academic histories and concisely factual tomes, to coffee table presentation and bedtime reading tales. His book for Shire Publications, 'VW Camper and Microbus' is a part of the range of titles widely available at museums and tourist attractions, while the Salmon title, 'VW Campers - Everything you want to know' is aimed fairly and squarely at the gift market.
Further titles are either fully or partly written, while others are at the concept stage. Amazingly Richard still has an element of spare time to dedicate to the contribution of a column in Jazz Publishing's 'VW Camper and Commercial' magazine, while he continues to collect VW sales literature whenever he can.
Richard is married and lives and works on the borders of the English Lake District.