Desert Bug: 1963 Beetle

The Beetle is one of the most iconic cars in history. Volkswagen made millions of them and most of us have either owned one or know someone who did. In 1963 alone, VW made 838,488 Beetles. But most of them have been driven into the ground by now, and many survivors have been modified over the years to no longer be original.

This 1963 Bug for sale here on craigslist in Tucson, Arizona looks original and in very decent condition for its age. According to the seller, it is “uncut, and unmodified. Unrestored. Engine never pulled. Still 6 volt, 1200 40hp engine.” It is only missing the rear seat frames and spare tire (where did they go and why are they gone?)

This old bug is said to have never been in an accident. It is showing some surface rust typical of desert cars, but the body looks solid. The seller does not say much about its condition though and unfortunately provides no photos of the engine, interior, or undercarriage. According to the ad, this car sat unused for almost 30 years and was brought back to roadworthy condition in 2014. The fuel pump was replaced, valves adjusted, new tires were added, and the brakes were rebuilt. The current owner says he just made a a round trip to San Francisco and back to Tucson, apparently with no problems. He rightly points out that it is unusual to find an example in this condition anymore, and while I am no expert in VW values, the asking price of $3,500 (or best offer!) seems reasonable for a running, unrestored, original Bug from the early sixties. It would be interesting to know more about this car’s history, and I wish there were more pictures provided, but I think someone will be buying this car soon. I do like these older Beetles, and even though I am less likely than its current owner to enjoy a long drive in an underpowered and relatively uncomfortable car, it would be a blast to drive this Bug around town. How often can you find a mostly original classic car you can drive everyday for $3,500? And a trip to Tucson sure seems like a good idea in the middle of winter….


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  1. Rick

    Great price if it’s been in AZ all it’s life. Otherwise I’d want photos of the rails, battery tray, etc, etc. Still, it looks in good shape.. sun fade is the VW communities “patina”, so very likely someone will snatch this up and leave it as-is, or throw a clear coat over the entire car.

  2. Jeffro

    I agree with Rick. Good price on this car. It’ll go quick. Pictures could of been a little better. I prefer pictures in bright sunshine,so I can see what I’m looking at.

  3. Todd Zuercher

    Absolute steal! And yes, we have Bug rust here in AZ too.

  4. David

    Seeing the engine lid so much more rusted than the rest of the car makes me wonder if there’s been an engine fire. There’s no easy way to tell if the engine had been out. Because there is no clamp where the fuel line slides onto the carb, It was common to snip off a bit off to tighten it up a bit when reinstalling the engine. The slighter shorter hose pulls off and poof! Fire! Yes, it’s happened to me and I’ve seen it often. It was common to see bugs with burned off paint on the lid back then.

    • John

      alot of assumptions about “fires” being made here.. look at the rust pattern on the car.. It’s overall uniform and since it’s in the southwest here paint is worn off due to UV damage and care–it’s normal. Assuming a fire is kind of extreme and overly presumptive dontcha think?
      Since the ad is deleted–someone likely got a good deal.. Or–the seller realized he was a little undervalued on his selling price..

      • Todd Zuercher

        That’s normal patina for a car that’s sat in the sun for a long time in Phoenix or Tucson. Doesn’t concern me at all.

  5. BradL

    And, it’s gone. It was definitely a good price.

  6. Andrew

    Interesting I’m from 1963 also, and I too look like that from the outside. The only difference is, I’m not as green anymore.

  7. john C

    after considering other posters words on the patina… I would venture to guess that the VW had the back of the car facing the sun for many days in its life.

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