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Backseat Driver: 1974 Volkswagen Beetle Shorty

The famed VW Beetle was still selling strong in 1974, but the Cabriolet or convertible version showed under 13,000 copies made. This is one of them and is said to have been professionally shortened, so it’s even smaller than before. The engine has been rebuilt and it looks like a fun car to goof around in (I’m expecting a dozen clowns to pile out of it at any time). This possible one-of-a-kind is in Arlington Heights, Illinois and available here on eBay for the Buy It Now price of $5,500. Or you can make an offer if you wish. Thanks, Wyatt Donnelly, for this interesting tip!

The VW Beetle was green lit in the 1930s by Adolf Hitler as the “people’s car” (or volks wagen in German). Designed by Ferdinand Porsche, the car was built to be practical, reliable and affordable. The subcompact began making its way to the U.S. in the years following World War II and became a symbol of the “flower power” generation of the 1960s. Early prototypes were built in 1931 and the final car was in production by 1938. Assembly in Germany lasted 40 years, ending after 1979, but the Beetle continued to be built elsewhere in the world until 2004. The year of the seller’s car, 1974, saw manufacturing approach 800,000 units, of which under 13,000 were convertibles or Cabriolets. Sources for this review include Forbes and The Samba.

How this 1974 VW Beetle Cabriolet became a restomod isn’t clear, but it looks like a great parade or beach car. The seller tells us it was professionally modified, but exactly what does that mean? It certainly doesn’t look like a hack job that somebody did in their home garage. There are no doors or roof and there’s a roll bar of sorts with a pool noodle the runs from the center of the windshield to behind the passenger seat. I’m not sure if that’s for looks or structural integrity. The seller says the vehicle has 56,000 miles on it without mention of how many of them in this format.

The 1.6-liter, air-cooled VW bug engine is said to have been rebuilt about three years ago and comes with the requisite 4-speed manual. We’re told that it runs well and probably has plenty of get-up as the car may have lost a quarter of its weight in the transformation. All the electronics work, such as the lights, wipers and horn. The seller makes mention of having used it as a daily driver during his five-year ownership.

This resto-bug looks like it would be a blast to drive, although I hesitate to guess how safe it is. Would it be prone to roll over in a quick turn due to the minimum mid-section of the car? The value of this car probably depends on what it’s worth to someone who wants to buy it because there are no playbooks for modified cars like this and you can’t value it at the same level as a stock Beetle.


  1. Moparman Member

    “Professionally” shortened, as in “Let me place my beer in a cup holder, while I utilize my reciprocating saw??” LOL!! GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 21
  2. angliagt angliagt Member

    One of those things that seemed like it was
    a great idea – AFTER a 30 pack of cheap beer.

    Like 13
  3. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    No doors and only 1 partial seat belt… YIKES!

    Like 9
  4. jeffro

    Personally, I’d install a baja kit with tires and roll bar. Then it would be a fun beach cruiser.

    Like 8
  5. A.G.

    Nope! The windshield header makes it obvious the body was never a convertible. The ‘rollbar’ is nothing more than a support for the windshield frame. Further inspection is not necessary.

    Like 13
    • rtpe2vw

      you’re right. also, the cabrios didn’t have the air vents above the deck lid. the vents were in the deck lid. i cry every time i see this kind of thing. especially the “short” buses.

      Like 2
  6. rustylink

    LOL that bench seat is about 18″ deep – you better tone up your glutes before you slide behind the wheel of this torture device…..

    Like 4
  7. Jeff

    Guys. Guys, Guys, Welcome To The Greatest Show On Earth, We Have Clown Cars, Clown Buggies & Clown Karts…

    Like 11
  8. CCFisher

    “Resto-mod” is a bit of a charitable term for this.

    Like 11
  9. Stan

    Before WW II, Ferdinand Porsche visited the US & toured a Chrysler plant in Detroit, where the never produced “Star car” was in development. The 1935 prototype looks amazingly like the first VW “Bug” production models. A picture of the Star Car can be seen on page 521 of Vincent Curcio’s biography of Walter Chrysler. Things that make you go…Hmmmmm.

    Like 1
  10. David M. Sawdey

    Who Framed Roger Rabbit

    Like 3
  11. PairsNPaint

    “used as a daily driver” ROTFLMAO!
    Definitely a “Here, hold my beer” project.

    Like 3
  12. Steve RM

    Definitely “made” from a sedan, not a convertible. This thing is terrible any way you look at it.

    Like 9
  13. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Weird even for a clown car.
    God bless America

    Like 1
  14. Arby

    Pop a wheelie and end up standing on your head

    Like 1
  15. djkenny

    Its a destroyed VW Beetle not Safe to Drive

    Like 6
  16. Dave Mathers

    Now THAT is cool and creative!!

    Like 1
  17. Christopher Gentry

    Come on guys. Are any classic cars “safe” by today’s standards. My son’s friends are scared of his 86 BW cabriolet because it doesn’t have air bags. Geez. Looks like fun to me. Just choose your roads carefully and watch your speed.

    Like 3
    • Dickie F.

      and reset the front axle rake by another 40 degrees towards you to slow the steering down, ……….. so when you get too excited, any sudden moves may not be your last.

      Like 3
  18. Mark

    Sometimes what happens in the barn should stay in the barn.

    Like 7
  19. steve

    Couldn’t help myself again That is one, or I mean the second Ugly truck, Mamma don’t let you, child, by no Ugly truck!

  20. Stephen Miklos

    My first thought looking at this. Toon movie Roger Rabbit. They made a toon buggy!!🤦

    Like 3
  21. Charlie

    I love air-cooled VW’s and I always shed a tear or three when I see something like this – it is a dreadful thing to do to such a great car as the Beetle. This person should be hung up by his thumbs for a day as a reminder not to do it again.
    It is hard to know how many Beetles and even Buses have met this dreadful fate – I hope that it is fewer than a thousand. However many there are, even one wold be too many.

    Like 2
  22. Rex Kahrs Member

    That Dodge Dart is looking pretty good right about now….

    Like 1
  23. Luki

    There are very few cars I would not want to be seen in. This is definitely one of them.

  24. Rex Kahrs Member

    After further examination, I’d say the side marker lights are what ruins the look.

    Like 1
    • PairsNPaint

      THAT’S what ruins the look for you?

  25. Philip Bregar

    No front turn signals, and don’t tell me the side markers are meant to be the turn signals.

  26. Russ Ashley

    Saying that this is “professionally shortened” is like saying that some jeans on a rack at a store are professionally ripped. They may be, but that doesn’t make me want them, or it.

    Like 1
  27. moosie moosie

    ROUGH CROWD today, this v-dub isnt exactly my cup of tea but it shows some imagination. Where would any segment of the car hobby be if people were afraid to try different ideas and did the same old boring $hit over and over ad nauseam ?

    Like 3
    • Shan_Paramus

      my thoughts exactly… get a little creative, throw in a little whimsy & ppl are bent out of shape.

      Don’t think something like this is meant to be taken seriously like it’s some production vehicle… Bet it is indeed a blast to drive and if it has been thoroughly tested out I’d take it for a spin yesterday… If it drives pretty much like a reg car, and I don’t know that it does, that shows some technical know-how as well… people need to chill, tell you what

      Like 1
      • Russ Ashley

        No one here is bent out of shape, as you put it. Most everyone here is a car lover and we all have opinions. My comment was, saying that it was professionally shortened was like saying torn jeans were professionally ripped. It just looks like something that someone did in their back yard. It’s clown like and all out of proportion like most all cars that have been shortened.

        Like 2
  28. PairsNPaint

    Why is this piece of garbage showing up here again?

  29. Racingpro56 Member

    Why? For the love of all that is Wolfsburg…why would anyone do that? Help me understand.

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