Friday, July 29, 2016

1956 Volkswagen Beetle Oval Ragtop

1956 Volkswagen Beetle Oval Ragtop - Image 1 of 17

Click Here to read all about this Beetle Oval Ragtop and to view other pictures.


1965 VW Samba

After the 21 window project we featured sold for a jaw-dropping $25k, we had to mention this one that came to market yesterday. It is a 1965 21 window and although it is far from perfect, it does run. There is some rust, but it looks like a deal at $24k when compared the bus from the other day. It is located in Quebec, Canada and is listed for sale here on TheSamba.


Super 23-Window Samba Stash!

Super Samba Stash
While over at TheSamba promoting our new Sunken Samba t-shirt, I spotted this huge stash of 21 and 23-window Sambas! I’m not really into VW buses, but this sight took my breath away. These well-lite people haulers bring big money today and this guy has a ton of them. There are at least five tucked away in this garage and there are many more scattered around outside. Don’t plan on scoring a bargain project here though. This guy only sells them after he’s restored them and each bus sells for around six figures. Boy, I think I may have went into the wrong profession!

Outside Sambas
Checkout the Samba school bus! I hope they’re able to preserve the paint job on that one. It would be fun to learn if it really served as a kid hauler at some point. Having those big skylights to look out of sure would have made the daily journey to the school house more fun. Obviously, a lot of people have fun in one of these when they were younger because they are worth a lot more than you’d assume a slow and simple bus to be. How about you – do you have memories of basking under the sunlight in one of these?


Electric 1978 VW Beetle Convertible

1978 Volkswagen Beetle
Who needs one of those newfangled Teslas when you can get this electric Beetle? It has the classic look and is a lot cheaper! I’m not a big electric car fan, but I could get behind this one. I’ve seen a few of these conversions driving around and it does seem like a good use for a late seventies bug. This one is handsome and should make a fun and economical driver for someone. I’ll let the seller, Chris D, tell it in his words though. Keep reading to learn more about this high-voltage Volkswagen:

Plug Er Inimage:

This car started out as a rust-free California car and then I installed an electric conversion kit purchased from e-volks. It’s kit #3, which means it’s 120 volt. Power is supplied by 10 deep cycle marine batteries, with another battery to power the accessories.  There are two on-board chargers – one for the main pack and one for the accessory battery. The main charger is programmable, but I’ve never tried doing anything with it.  The other charger is just a standard trickle charger. Both charge from the same plug, so you just plug it in to a regular household outlet and it’ll charge all the batteries overnight.

Whats On The Dash
After I did the conversion, I had the car painted in a two-tone scheme that matches the convertible top, which was also new from the previous owner.  I then put in a matching two-tone interior with new carpet.

Electric Motor
The car feels quicker than it did with a gas engine up until about 40mph.  No shifting is needed – you can start out in second gear and that will take it up to 40 or so.  Top speed is probably around 60, but it really runs out of power by 50.  I would not call it highway capable, but it’s great around town where it has no problem keeping up with traffic.  I try to only drain the batteries down to 50% or less to keep them in top shape and that gives you around 25 miles of range.  The current batteries have only about 100 miles on them, so I’m still being careful to use them gently until they’re broken in.  The original pack died prematurely, probably because I ran them down to zero charge multiple times.
I’ve driven the Beetle around 7,000 miles with absolutely no issues.  Keep in mind that I, a liberal arts major, built this myself in my garage so it’s not a professionally designed and engineered conversion.  For instance, if you floor it for too long you can draw so many amps that a battery cable bracket might melt.  I don’t know what to do about that, but I’ve never tried to figure it out because it’s rarely an issue for me.

Electric Convertible
That being said, it works great and it’s really fun to drive.  Everyone from college kids to old homeless guys love this car! I’d like to sell this to an electric-car enthusiast who will understand its quirks and love it like I have.  I’m only selling it because I spent the last year working out of State, and will be leaving again this fall. I dont want the Beetle to just sit in my garage.  I realize there’s a million questions buyers might have, so feel free.  I want whomever buys this to be fully aware of everything about it.

If you’re interested you can contact Chris here via email. The car is located in Boulder, Colorado and he would like to get $5,000. He has spent a lot more than that to build this car, so it might be a bargain for someone considering a similar conversion.

Thanks for listing your VW us Chris! We hope it goes to a good home where someone will keep it… charged up! If any of you have an unique classic that you would like to sell, please think about getting it featured here on Barn Finds!


Original Oval: 1955 VW Beetle

The other day, we featured a short-lived 1966 VW Beetle due to the auction ending. That car sold for what seemed like a great price, but it wasn’t necessarily a hard to find version of the People’s Car. However, this highly original 1955 oval-window Beetle here on craigslist in Vermont is desirable for being an early model that retains some desirable accessories and is said to have been the actual car featured in a vintage VW billboard advertisement. The seller is asking for $7,500 or trade for another vintage VW that’s less of a project. 

The seller sounds like an interesting guy: he recently bought a historic church (plenty of those languishing in VT) and doesn’t have the bandwidth for another restoration project. He says the Beetle has clearly been loved, and he bought the car from the second original owner. The interior remains in excellent condition for the age, with an uncut dash bearing the original radio and seats that look like they were hardly sat in. The headliner could use replacement, but that’s the only major flaw inside.

On the outside, the car has been repainted once in its lifetime, and the seller says the lower quarters on the passenger side could use some work. Overall, this is astonishingly solid for a New England car of this vintage. I absolutely dig the Euro-spec “blade” bumpers that were installed by a previous owner in the 70s, which, along with the OEM roof rack and NOS exhaust included with the sale, tells you something about the commitment to originality the Beetle’s previous caretakers have adhered to. Also note this Bug still has its desirable semaphore turn signals attached.

Overall, this is a pleasingly honest example of an early VW Beetle, and I’ve always thought the oval windows were among the prettiest generations of this air-cooled classic. The motor hasn’t been fired up but does turn freely; given the love that’s been lavished on this example, I’ll bet that it was treated well mechanically, too. The paint? Well, I do dig the patina, but I might be tempted to clean up the fenders and leave the rest as-is, along with installing the new whitewalls included in the sale on re-chromed hubcaps. How would you restore it – or would you?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The VW Thing

Volkswagen sold these open-top military style vehicles in the US during the 60's.


1964 VW Beetle Camper


1966 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia


1965 VW Camper


Volkswagen SP2


1953 VW Dannenhauer

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 1963

1971 VW Bus


With the crazy prices we have seen lately for rusted out examples of early model Volkswagen buses, this purple 1971 VW bus trapped in a barn in Accord, New York looks like a pretty good deal. The asking price is only $2,900! The hand-painted purple peace signs and other decorations, and the stickers on the back indicate this might have been used most recently as some sort of “proto-hippie” bus. Both its current location in upstate New York and the Vermont license plate on the back indicate it has been in the rust belt for at least part of its life. Maybe it came here from California or Arizona or some other winter free area, as the seller says it has “very little rust.”

There are only four pretty poor photos, for which the seller apologizes in the Craigslist ad where it is listed for sale. It’s not clear whether the bus can’t be moved under its own power, or that there is another reason why it wasn’t moved outside so decent photos could be taken. It’s possible the seller is just lazy or maybe he feels that the asking price is so low, it’s just not worth the effort.

The ad does say that the bus is restorable and that the engine needs an oil leak fixed, along with a muffler, but that it has been driven only 34,000 since a full engine rebuild – though I have to wonder why a rebuilt engine would be leaking oil so soon after being rebuilt. If you assume the worst, you will be happy with what you find when you get it out into the sunlight again.
1971 VW bus ad
You can’t tell from the pictures provided, but the seller says the spare tire is mounted on the front. Nothing at all is said about the interior or any other mechanical issues. But for $2,900, this seems worthwhile for someone to buy and restore, even if it’s not in great shape. And I think the purple color scheme and the hand painted symbols under the window lines look pretty cool. If it’s not too difficult to get this car out of storage, you might even be able to drive it home – at a very low rate of speed. Unless you soup up the engine, you’re working with about 57 horsepower, so you always need to take your time when driving one of these, and be careful in heavy winds too. On the other hand, you might consider that “have bong, will travel,” and just not worry about keeping up with traffic.


1971 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

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The seller of this rusty, rough 1971 VW Karmann Ghia here on eBay claims that the value for such vehicles has shot up 50% over the last few months. I don’t follow the air-cooled market that closely, but I don’t think prices or demand have jumped that much. However, with a starting bid of $0.99 and an engine that turns freely, perhaps this Karmann Ghia represents a potentially cheap buy as a good source for parts or long-term project.

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The car is located in Sanford, Maine and there is currently no bidding activity. Sanford isn’t too far from Kennbunkport, which is a popular seaside community for summer-time travelers. I wouldn’t be surprised if you find a few expired beach pass parking stickers on this Karmann Ghia, and if it’s been parked for extended periods of time with its nose facing the ocean, that might explain the heavy corrosion up front. The permeation of rust continues to the floors, frame rails and heater channels, according to the seller.

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The rust challenges are why I think this convertible VW has a future as a parts car. There appear to be some good components left, from the top to the interior to the drivetrain. The windshield glass appears solid, and trim bits like the door handles, mirrors and tail lights could all be useful to someone. The doors and engine lid also could be harvested for another project car, but these aren’t necessarily hard parts to find. Nice parts to have, sure – but the Buy-It-Now asking price of $3,200 seems steep to me for a car of this condition grade.

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It would appear this convertible received a likely-cheap respray in red, which is a shame considering its original color may have been yellow (a more desirable paint code, in my opinion). If motor turns out to be savable, that’s a bonus – but it’s anyone’s guess if the numbers match. Although I personally hope this car returns to the road, I don’t believe the seller’s claim about the uptick in value. Even if some pricing guide made such a declaration, Karmann Ghias still have a long ways to go before they begin to appreciate like an air-cooled Porsche.


1982 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia

All Packed Up
This summer we have a family reunion to attend. The problem is, they are camping and we don’t really want to sleep on the ground. We could rent a camper, but I think this would be a better option! This Vanagon is all setup for camping fun and it’s only been lightly used (63k miles) with two previous owners. It’s not perfect, but it’s perfect for if you want to take it into the great outdoors. It’s located in Ronks, Pennsylvania and is listed here on eBay where bidding ends Friday. That doesn’t give me much time to convince my wife though…

Clean Interior
This isn’t your typical lived-in-down-by-the-river hippie van. The interior is clean and I wouldn’t be afraid to sleep in there. Everything is claimed to be original inside and out. Even the little curtains are claimed to be original! This was the full Camper version of the Vanagon so besides the fold down bed and swivel tables, there’s a fridge, stove, and even a sink!

Air Cooled
In 1983 Volkswagen switched to water-cooled power, so this is the last of the air-cooled campers. They had some teething issues with the new engines, so this could be the best best of the 80’s vans. It may not have the power of a modern RV, but it should be a more economical and easier to maneuver too. The seller has already done the work needed to make sure it’s ready for your next summer adventure.

1982 VW Campnobile
That awning isn’t a factory installed item, but it’s a nice touch. The popup roof is original though and makes it possible to stand inside while you’re cooking or doing dishes. Then at night, it turns into a comfy bed for two! Four people can comfortably travel and camp in this van all while being on a budget. I’m afraid it’s out of my budget for now, but the thought is a fun one. Anyone here have any fond memories of Vanagon camping?


1957 VW Beetle

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The seller of this heavily sunburnt 1957 VW Beetle here on eBay sees his vehicle as more of an art installation than a project car. No matter how you look at it, though, this is one of the more authentic forms of patina I’ve seen, and although we’ve all grown a little tired of the word, this is a deserving candidate for preservation. Plus, the Bug comes with some added OEM features that make it a unique find regardless of the exterior. 

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Amazingly, the interior has remained in very nice condition despite residing in a field for many years, taking in every ray the sun could throw at it. The seller claims what we see here is just the result of a solid cleaning and not any sort of restoration attempt. After sending his son out to inspect the car in person, he had it shipped back to Nevada where a more intimate inspection revealed options like factory-installed fuel and amp gauges, along with a reclining passenger seat and front seat belts.

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The engine runs, but the seller is a bit coy on the details. They did tackle some deferred maintenance to get it to run, drive and stop, but he claims it feels weak. I’m not sure any engine with less than 75 b.h.p. will ever feel strong, but to his credit, the seller does offer up that the Bug returned compression numbers between 70 and 100 across the board. Given this is such an authentic oval window, I wouldn’t alter the engine much beyond stock – but that’s only if it can be confirmed that this is the numbers-matching unit.

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The early Beetles were among my favorites, with the aforementioned rear window, slim tail lights, chrome bumper guards and covered headlights. This one is all there, right down to the optional chrome hubcaps. I would love to know the story behind this VW and how it came to slumber in a field for years while staying almost perfectly preserved. The only rust found was a rotten battery tray that has proactively been replaced. Bidding is already over $8,000 with the reserve unmet, but I guess that’s the price of patina today.


1980 VW Rabbit Cabriolet

Sometimes being a rare or unusual car does not confer value. That is the case with the 1980 VW Rabbit Cabriolet. 1980 was the first year for this model, and only 13,39o were sold in the US. Most of the time, these cars were driven til they failed and then sent to the crusher, so now that they are 35 years old, there are not very many left. And probably very few with only 50,000 miles, as this example for sale here on craigslist in Tucson, Arizona has been driven.

According to the seller, this car’s previous owner became ill and stopped driving the car in 2002. The current owner has had the car for the past six months, getting it sorted and back on the road.

As the photos attest, it appears quite original, and is generally in good condition, though the car needs some maintenance items, including tires and belts. The seller has gone through the fuel system and replaced the filter and pump.
Arizona cars of this vintage often suffer damage to the interior from the sun and low humidity of the climate. With the seats covered and not mentioned in the ad, it seems likely the original upholstery is not in good condition, and evidently, at least one piece of trim is missing. The top does look pretty good, which is a surprise.
Despite the fact that this car is now 35 years old, is relatively rare, and represents the first year the Rabbit cabriolet was sold in America, at least according to the price guides I consulted, its value remains incredibly low. High retail is less than $4,000, which, if correct, means this seller’s asking price of $2,8oo is way too high. I can’t help thinking this car ought to be worth a bit more, but any seller will be buying this car for sentimental reasons or just to have a fun to drive, low cost convertible.

And even if this car’s overall condition is solid, after sitting for 14 years, it will need mechanical refreshing to go along with the tire and belts, probably new brakes too. Unless you can do the work yourself, this car will be a money pit, and not an investment.

It’s often said that you should buy an older car because you love it, not as an investment, but none of us want to spend so much on a car that we feel stupid.

Despite its apparently low value and cost to bring back to life, is this a car that interests you? If so, there’s a great website dedicated to these convertible VWs, Cabby Info, where I learned a lot about them. There’s even a comprehensive buyer’s guide too. All Rabbit Cabriolets were built by Karmann, and their overall quality was very good. They weighed about 300 pounds more than standard Rabbits, so were a bit slower and less tossable. But they were fun cars and they do have a following, so maybe this car will be worth the cost of rescue for someone out there


Yellow VW Convertible

Here’s how it worked: the kids and their friends would ride in the back of our minivan. Because car loads of kids are always fun. As we traveled, our son Wesley would call out “Yellow car!,” and since he was the first one to spot it, this entitled him to punch the kid sitting next to him. Hard. He would dole out a blow to someone’s upper arm, and life would go on.  It might look like the start of a harmless enough game on the surface, but it wasn’t.

Kind of like the war in Vietnam, it had a tendency to escalate. While playing this game, it was possible to be one-upped. Wes has a sharp eye and was good at “yellow car”, but his friend Dougie could be a bit of a troublemaker sometimes, and when he played, the level of violence increased exponentially. The sighting of a Volkswagen Beetle, aka “bug”, would initiate the Def-Con 4 sequence spiral of events known as “slug-a-bug”. It’s like “yellow car”, except more dangerous, with much harder hits, and lots more of them. When a Beetle was spotted, and someone would call it, and I often observed what looked and sounded like my own private Bruce Lee movie happening inside my van, visible in the rear-view mirror. The kids would scream in simultaneous pain and delight. But when one of these came around, that’s when things got ugly.

Behold, my friends, the Fat Man-Little Boy of the juvenile automotive spotter’s world.  This is the Yellow Car Slug-a-Bug Hurtable Convertible.  You didn’t want to be sitting anywhere around the kid that was the first to lay eyes on this one. Even three rows away in the same vehicle wasn’t entirely safe. By the time you saw it, it meant things had gone nuclear. Anything was now permissible.  The balled fists would fly like machine gun fire in close-quarters battle. Those who were killed off early were the lucky ones. Any atrocity was now possible, or legal, and any manner of personal bodily injury likely. Bruises. Black eyes. Concussion. Subdural hematoma. Basilar skull fracture. You name it. I don’t know how those kids survived as long as they have. Maybe I should have tried to establish some rules? Some etiquette? But what fun would that have been?

If you like the looks of the car shown in these photos, the seller says it runs but needs brake work and other work. He says the floor pans have been restored, and the top mechanism is in working condition. It’s listed for sale here on St. Louis Craigslist for $3000. Do you think it will make a good project car, or does even looking at it give you PTSD?


1974 Volkswagen Type II

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The Type II was well into its second generation when this 1974 Volkswagen Type II was made. This one is listed on Craigslist in Byron, GA and it looks pretty nice. You’ll need to conjure up some magic by installing your own engine, but with an asking price of $2,800 and the prices that restored ones are going for, this could be a good find.

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There is obviously some heavy sanding to do here and although there is no mention of rust-through, I’m guessing that there will also be some welding to do. Luckily, pretty much every square inch of this van has been reproduced so you’ll find patch panels, floorpans, and anything else that you’ll need to get it ready for your next concert tour.

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For a 42-year old vehicle with no engine, peeling and crusty paint, and is shown sitting in a field, the interior looks surprisingly nice! Again, you should be able to locate any parts and pieces that you may need to spruce up the innards of this Type II – although it doesn’t look like it needs anything; maybe a speaker cover on the driver’s door?

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Ok, there might be a bit of work to do back here. But again, anything you’ll need is found on any number of websites for these vehicles. I still have a few old Volkswagen parts catalogs from the early mid 1970s, but I’d hate to look at the prices from back then! This bus has 54,449 on the odometer which isn’t a lot of miles. Maybe the engine blew and they parked it, or maybe it has 154,449; who knows?

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Here’s where you’ll need most of the magic on this bus, under that engine hatch. Most of us know that it’s mainly a four-bolt process, along with a few other things to attach and detach. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding and fitting an appropriate engine here. Or, maybe you’d rather have something else in there rather than a stock pusher? In 1980, I almost bought a perfect, brown and white 1978 VW Type II as my first vehicle for $1,800–I wish that I would have. I’d love to have another one again someday. Are you a fan of these magic buses?