I have both a beige VIC-20 styled VIC-1541 disk drive and the later brown C64 1541 drive. Is there a difference between them (besides how they look)?
Functionally there is no difference between the VIC-1541 and 1541. Internally, there may be lots of differences due to production variation and component variation. The thing to remember is that both drives have modes to directly support the VIC-20 and C64. The VIC-20 is actually faster reading data when the drive is in 1540 mode instead of 1541 mode, but ANY 1541 drive supports 1540 mode.