Canvas Roof Baja: 1963 VW Beetle

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

The seller of a Baja-ized air-cooled Beetle claims he knew of this car for 40 years and finally rescued it from the barn that fell in around it. Strange to see it get sold so quickly after knowing of it for that many years, but given the not-insignificant work ahead of the next owner, perhaps it makes sense. Find this canvas-roofed Baja Bug here on craigslist for $3K.

Now, it breaks my heart a little bit to know a Bug with the canvas sunroof got hacked up as a Baja kit donor. At least that’s my guess as to what happened; the first fiberglass kits showed up in 1969, so a ’63 Beetle would have been a cheap used car at that point. The seller has already done some level of disassembly, as the pan will need eventual replacement. A running 1600 single port motor is included.

It’s hard to get a grasp on what comes with the interior, as the seller has also gutted that for the eventual pan replacement. The familiar single-gauge dashboard is still present but obviously everything else has gone missing. Bajas led tough lives, being used in the desert and for mud-bogging, as the seller suggests the next owner do with this one. The car’s location in Nashville makes it more likely this Baja saw a mud hole more than once back in the day.

We can dig the idea of a restored Baja with a canvas sunroof extending down the roofline, especially since your buddies will probably want to stick their heads out the roof when this thing blows through the muck. There’s a good amount of work still needed, but Beetles are notoriously easy to restore compared to other vehicles, considering how simple pan replacement is. The seller is looking for $3K – is that a fair deal all around?

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Comments

  1. Sam Sharp

    Can’t believe no comments. We’ll just call it “The Un-Love Bug.” With all of the dune buggies – Meyers Manx, Fiberfab, et al- the VW based fun buggies are bringing a premium in the midwest.

    My cousin on the left coast still has his Baja Bug that he built in the 1960s. Still going strong. Many big buck offers for it.

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    • BorisRoberts

      Well Sam, maybe people remember that these things used to be $100 all day long. They’re still the same car, as in, “not a very good one”. I would guess that when you got into it, fenders off, front end off, it isn’t going to just a bolt on, quick fix deal. You can put $30,000 into restoring it, and you still have a $3000 car, if it’s cherry.

      2+
      • John H

        I used to buy early 60s VWs and Karmann Ghias for $100, or less, all the time. I had use of a neighbor’s very large garage to store my cars. I know I had about a dozen, or more, cars in there at one point. These were disposable cars at the time this one was converted, according to the timeline in the ad.

        I wish the seller had provided more/better pics so we could get a better idea of just what this one needs.

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  2. DrinkinGasolne

    As a VW Type 1 Sedan purist….this is a backyard Go-Kart for the Grandchildren to whip on, nothing more.

    2+
  3. Edward

    When I was much younger, I saw Baja’ d ovals and splits, believe it or not. These days it is equally hard to see rags of any age getting said treatment. This was originally a way to convert a “lost” vehicle back to usage. This looks best used as a body on a rolling pan.

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  4. Wilbur Burns

    Maybe $1000-$1500. Parts are easy to come by, but needing that many adds up quickly. Sad to see a sliding canvas sunroof model left to rot, though.

    1+
  5. Rod444

    Hmm, not a bad start. but you can buy a whole lotta dune buggy/sand rail/baja buggy for 3 grand on a good day in Arizona.
    I got this Chenoweth beast with a very hot 1776, dual Webber 44 carbs, and oversize valve heads for 3500 fairly recently. It gives more grins per mile than anything I’ve ever driven or ridden in. Accelerates like a rocket.
    ps. The muffler is only there to keep the neighbor’s shotguns in the closet. It comes off when we need MORE POWER!

    2+
  6. Nick G.

    I like it but $3k seems like too much. I like the early 60’s Bugs, especially the type of headlights they used with the built-in park light bulb. Unless I missed it, I can’t tell if this even has the original lights or instrumentation.
    Though I like early VW’s to be in original condition, I don’t see this as being a disservice to the car as it’s an opportunity to keep it around instead of being crushed. If I were to get another Beetle, I’d prefer a nicely done Baja Bug. I probably won’t even take it off road; I’d just keep it looking good and try to daily drive it as much as possible.

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  7. Sam Sharp

    Hi Boris. Nope, I never got into VW modded projects. Still, the buggies, 40 Ford style glass front ends, trikes, MIGIs, etc., are still being found and resurrected. These 60’s pieces of auto history still bring smiles when seen on the road. It was a sign of the times.

    On the left coast and Mexico the following is still evident. Sure, I can remember when Edsels were $100 cars. The owner would have to pay you to take the car.

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  8. Tyler

    I couldn’t begin to say how many of these we cut up in the late 70’s for Baja bugs. They were plentiful, cheap, & anything you wanted or needed for one was in the JC Whitney catalog. They would blast through mud that would stick a Jeep, & run circles around one in the woods.

    At one time it seemed like every 3rd or 4th car on the road was a Beetle, then one day they were gone. Really a shame too, everybody should have experienced owning a Beetle at least once in their life.

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