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Autostick Barn Find: 1969 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible

This 1969 Volkswagen Beetle convertible has just recently been pulled out of long-term storage and has come back to life with minimal fuss. The seller notes that it runs and drives even without the gas tank being fully drained and cleaned, but a tune up and other associated refreshing is still recommended. The Beetle is equipped with the unusual Autostick transmission, and while rare, it doesn’t necessarily translate to desirable in this application. The Beetle is located in Tyler, Minnesota, and listed here on eBay with no reserve and bids to $3,995.

The convertible Beetle has seemingly been a collector’s item since not long after it was introduced, with some collectors squirreling them away only to list them later on with time-capsule mileage. For the most part, prices are fairly strong for the drop-top Bug when found in perfect condition, but examples like this even as respectable drivers tend to command far less. That’s a good thing for buyers, as there’s likely some room here to make improvements and not lose your shirt if you decide to sell it on in a few years. Paint and top look good, and the chrome on the bumpers still presents quite well.

The interior looks quite clean, with no major defects in the upholstery or door panels. The Beetle sports period floormats with one artist’s interpretation of how to capture the spirt of the Beetle in a cheery bug illustration. The original steering wheel remains in place but an aftermarket radio has been installed, so it clearly hasn’t been off the road for decades. The painted portions of the dash don’t strike me as being factory, so that could be one owner’s custom touch. The backseat is untorn as well. The real question here is the Autostick transmission and whether air-cooled collectors will want to deal with it.

The engine bay looks uncluttered and original, aside from what looks newer carburetor. The seller notes a few issues that all seem pretty simple to fix, from a non-working radio, fuel gauge, and horn. There is some minor rust to report, with the seller reporting some paint bubbling and previously repaired patches underneath the car. None of it sounds terminal, and there’s plenty of the car that doesn’t need immediate attention to make it a tempting project despite its years off the road. The big question is: could you live with unorthodox Autostick transmission?


  1. Al Reusser

    Believe that’s a 1970 model. I had a ‘69 and it did not have that style of bumpers, engine compartment lid or external gas filler door.

    Like 2
    • Ian C

      The square bumpers, that shape of deck lid, and external fuel door all began in ’68.

      Like 5
  2. Bob S

    The bumpers are correct for 69. I had a 69 standard bug with the auto stick as my 1st car, what a POS! If one had a parts car, and good backyard skills, it could easily be converted to a 4 speed, otherwise, JUNK!

    Like 5
  3. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Flipper said – “car was just taken out of many years of dry storage”, “We didn’t drain the tank we just added a few gallons of new gas”….. I guess they’ll just leave that mess for the next “LUCKY” owner.

    Like 4
  4. alphasud Member

    Yea, auto sticks are strange. Worked on a couple when I was a VW tech back in the 80’s. Have Both a torque converter and a tiny dry clutch. That one is a 69. Take note of the 12volt sticker in the door A-pillar area. 69 I believe was the first year for the auto stick and I thought 69 was the first year for IRS suspension. Auto stick also appeared on the square backs and Porsche got its version for the 911. Weirdest thing driving one was having to get used to not grabbing the shift lever until you needed to shift. The dry clutch was disengaged when you put your hand on the shifter.

    Like 4
  5. Philip Bregar

    It’s a 69. I had a red sedan, and the red panels on the dash are standard issue. I had a couple auto sticks, but not in one of my keepers.

    Like 1
  6. Matt

    I took my driver’s test in a Karmann Ghia with autostick. Makes a sound like a duck when you “shift” it.

    Like 3
    • alphasud Member

      They do sound rather cartoonish when the clutch engages. The first time I drove a customers I laughed.

      Like 3
  7. Maestro1 Member

    The transmission takes getting used to and is a big contributor as to why one
    with it are so suspect. I’m not sure about this, but it’s a VW, parts are everywhere, so it has potential.

  8. Bernie Chaziquasidence

    Avoid the A.S.S. ! I owned one and it had to be one of the worst cars ever made by VW. I live in North Carolina and had to travel from Winston-Salem to Boone frequently. If you’re familiar with that area, you’ll understand how embarrassing it is to be passed by granny and her walker while struggling up the hills. (Just a little bit of hyperbole there.) The Auto Shift certainly didn’t contribute to it’s performance. I couldn’t wait to unload it, which was sad because I really liked the car except for the transmission.

    Like 1
  9. Harriston Richardson

    Autostick? What is it and how did it work?

    • Peter Smith

      It is a three speed transmission and reverse. There is no clutch pedal. It has a torque converter and a servo operated clutch, operated by grasping the shift knob. You could drive and stop in any of the gears. You could drive around town all day in second gear. Third was for higher speeds and low, or first, was for faster take offs from a standing start or for going up steep hills. The transmission is really not the problem. The trouble was, there wasn’t enough power behind it. Not enough horsepower!

  10. Phlathead Phil

    Autosuck shift. Worst ever. They tried, they lost. So much for so less.

    Other than that, price ain’t too shabby.

    Hey, it’s a ‘Bert’ what else do you want?9

  11. Michael L Gregory

    My second car was a ’68 convertible. The painted dash panels were normal, but I always kept mine covered with wood-grain contact paper. LOL Fancy.

    I never drove an autostick, but I never heard anything good about it.

    My first car was a ’67, and I honestly wish I had at least one of those cars today. My convertible was tricked out with all kinds of of great add-ons like cornering lamps and Porsche wheel covers from a 914.

    There’s nothing quite like the sound of those pancake engines going down the street.

  12. Steve RM

    The autostick sucks. If your hand even touches the shifter it goes into neutral. If you’re used to a manual this will frustrate you to no end. The first time I worked on one of these it took me quite awhile to figure this out. Definitely the worst thing VW ever did to the Bug.

  13. matt kennell

    I had a baby blue 68 bug with the Autostick. Absolutely the slowest car I have ever driven. 60 MPH wide open with the wind on your back. I think I would pass.

  14. Jeff

    Is it that difficult to replace the auto stick with a manual?

    • Steve RM

      People do it but there are quite a few things that need changing.
      I’ve never done it and it’s not something I’d ever do. It’s a lot easier to just not buy one. Buy a manual instead. There are lots of Bugs for sale.

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