Bug With Juice: 1964 VW Beetle


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The cute and cuddly 1964 VW Beetle originally came with a 1200 cc engine producing a peak of only 40 horsepower. Any one of us who has driven a mid-sixties bug knows how underpowered these cars were when they were new. Lots of downshifting was needed, and going uphill with more than one person on board was just a drag. But if you wanted to go faster in a bug in the sixties and seventies, quite a few hop up parts were always available. The ultimate choice if you wanted real speed, was to drop in a Porsche engine and push hard on the accelerator pedal. VW’s are very light cars, so adding a high output Porsche engine does the trick for the need for speed.


Evidently, someone in Tucson, Arizona made such a swap in this very sanitary looking ’64 bug that is for sale now here on craigslist. With an asking price of only $5,000, this car is likely to be sold rather quickly. While neither the all too brief ad copy nor the three pictures fully tells the story of this car, for sure there’s enough here to make it worthwhile to go have a look and a test drive. The engine is from a Porsche 356 and its Zenith carbs have been rebuilt. It is said to be fast and smooth driving and there is no reason to doubt the seller.


The body in primer looks great. The car has been lowered just a bit and has a great stance. And the nerf bars are a perfect touch. Personally I would not care very much what the interior looks like. As long as it has a driver’s seat, I would be happy, and if I were its owner, I would quickly be driving it daily on every twisty road in town. I just wish I lived nearby, as I would be there to look at it today.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Bobsmyuncle

    356 engine and only 5000 grand? . Something ain’t right.

    Even if it IS a 356 engine the performance will be pitiful compared to any number of later VW engines.

    The car has a nice look and a reasonable ask though I really think something is up.

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  2. Francisco

    Asking price is $4000.

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  3. Rob

    The original posting was on Jan 24th, ‘n today he updated it, so David, you must have spotted this before 1:31pm, ’cause the price WAS $5G’s, but now he’s lowered it to $4,000., and that just tells me either something’s really wrong that he ain’t saying, or he just wants it GONE.. IF nothings wrong with it, ‘n at that price, don’t think it’ll last much longer, but Vdubs were never my thing, so it won’t be me handing over the $$’s.

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  4. Tirefriar

    Let’s just say that even if it had a modded VW block, not a Porsche and within a reasonable driving distance from me at $4k asking my E39 Touring would be looking for a new owner in a blink of an eye. I love pre-68 Bugs, especially the way this has been styled

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  5. grant

    Bugs are great and the Porsche motor sounds fun, but without some serious suspension upgrades the twisted wouldn’t be much fun. Swing arm tuna can death traps on wheels.

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  6. John K

    A verifiable 356 engine alone should be worth more than the asking price.

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  7. HoA Howard AMember

    Would that make this car a “Beetlejuice” car? ( couldn’t resist)

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    • David WilkAuthor

      That’s exactly what I was thinking when I wrote the post :). I couldn’t resist either. Bad puns are us.

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  8. Rick

    356 engine means nothing unless it’s an early and/or a Super 90. Only the engine number would tell the tale. The generator stand looks correct… I’d want receipts for the rebuild. Still, at the asking price if the engine is correct it’s a steal. Sell the engine and double your money.

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  9. Dave Wright

    I just sold a 1959 356 normal engine for 1250.00 and threw in some other 356 parts I had laying around. It was a basket but it took a year to sell it. In the days I drove 356’s every day……Southern California…….hot rod VW’s would run up on me crushing the freeway. I would simply drop a gear and walk away from them. I know they had motr horsepower than I did but it was the days before hotrodders understood gears. They were good little street dragsters but had no legs. Today, any sort of gears are available for the VW and this could be made to run pretty well. There are 356 project engines around all the time for 2-3000.00 complete. So, the price here is good. Not the steal many people think.

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  10. Evan

    I’m curious about the true year of the body. The 1964 beetle has a completely flat windshield and all windows are much smaller in square inches than the beetle presented in the ad. This appears to be a 1965 or later.

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  11. L.M.K.


    Anyone here take the plunge?

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  12. KeeferZJr

    David, I’m wondering why it is lately that when I try to go look at a car you have posted on here that it is gone from the site you got it from. This happens almost every day lately on at least one of your posted cars. I have seen a couple people complain that they “didn’t authorize it to be on Barn Finds” and I’m wondering if they are pulling them just because of that or simply that they are sold before I get to look at my email. Is it required for someone to “authorize” you to list it here? I can’t imagine that. To me, it’s like a newspaper telling us “there is something going on over yonder and you really need to take a look at it”. Anyway, just curious.

    Like 0

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