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Flipped Baja: 1959 VW Bus


There’s been a fair amount of chatter about flipping cars on the site lately, and this unusual find here on craigslist from Barn Finds reader Mark V. shows the art of the resale in action. It’s a 1959 VW Bus that supposedly competed in the Baja 500, a grueling desert race that takes place in the Baja, California peninsula – and was for sale for a lot less not that long ago. 


How do I know this is a flip? Well, it’s a highly unusual vehicle that actually has a Buick V8 swapped in place of the anemic flat-four these air-cooled VWs originally came with. So, if you Google for words like “Baja 500 VW Bus,” it won’t be long before you find it listed on one of the bigger air-cooled sites, The Samba – where it originally sold for $750, a far cry from its current $4,500 asking price.


One of the best things about what Jesse and Josh are doing is that they’re making improvements to the cars they buy to make them more enjoyable for the next owner, and well worth any additional premium they may charge over their purchase price. That makes good sense. This Bus, however, is the worst kind of flip: the seller saw a deal, drove it home and then jacked up the price.

Image courtesy of OffRoadAction.ca

Of course, it’s difficult to find anything out about this Bus’ racing history in the Baja. What I do know is – after stumbling upon a website with hundreds of vintage racing photos – almost anything with the right equipment attached could race in the Baja. This AMC Pacer is one of my favorites from the era when racing was perhaps a bit more risky but also more entertaining! Almost as entertaining as seeing if this flipper has his payday.


  1. Avatar photo DB

    I’ve always drawn the line at I will NEVER buy a car or truck off a trailer. Gotta have some pride as a seller and a buyer, for crissakes!

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    • Avatar photo Woodie Man

      So true!

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      • Avatar photo Mike

        Agree 100% to that statement!!

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  2. Avatar photo van

    Looks kinda sinister?
    I say go with that
    Saw one in Chamblee GA in the 70s, you could see headers under the middle
    I didn’t see what v8 was in it

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  3. Avatar photo JW

    Unless you are going to use it for it’s intended purpose build what good is it ??? About as good as buying a Smart car to pull your camper.

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  4. Avatar photo Marty Member

    Like SO many of these flipper vehicles we see, it’s supposed to have run in this or that race and the seller doesn’t offer a lick of documentation about it. Maybe it was actually there…and maybe it wasn’t.

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  5. Avatar photo jim s

    it would be worth a lot more if it was stock and it would be hard to return to stock. interesting find.

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  6. Avatar photo RoughDiamond

    I believe in doing a Google search Jeff pretty much verified it was in a Baja 500 race. Still junk to me.

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    • Avatar photo Bobsmyuncle

      No, if you read it again, Googling the term leads to another sale ad for this bus, entirely due to the description given by the owner.

      That said anything and everything ran the 500, doesn’t mean it did well or even completed the race.

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  7. Avatar photo scott m

    If this was a game of fact or crap I’m calling crap on this one it for off road but missing safety gear for race duty

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  8. Avatar photo Donnie

    Looks like something a gear head hippie on LSD would build.

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  9. Avatar photo Brian

    I don’t get it, why all the hate for someone who sells a car for more than they paid for it? Isn’t that what we all hope for? If they were the first to respond to an ad, with money in hand, I don’t give a rip if they paid X for it and now they want so sell it for Y. If it’s not worth the asking price they won’t sell it. If it is worth Y – to you – then you’ll buy it. If not, don’t buy it. Simple. If someone buys a 1968 Ferrari brand new for $8,000, then sells it in 2016 for 3.5 million, when do they become a “flipper”? After the first month, a year, ten years or 45 years? It’s just sour grapes from someone who wasn’t fast enough to or aware enough to have found it at the lower price.

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    • Avatar photo Dave Wright

      You are absolutely on target. I think a lot of these guys either have wives that won’t let them do it or they don’t have any money to start with. Everyone flips something to make a living. No one says a word about the greeting card retailer that sells a .35 cent card for 1.95.

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      • Avatar photo JW

        Be careful my wife works for Hallmark and it makes her a paycheck every week.

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      • Avatar photo Dave Wright

        Great…….then you,know exactly what I am talking about. I am in the camp that wishes everyone success in life. Someone else getting wealthy is good for all of us. It is not a net sum gain society. Good luck with your greeting card sales!!!!

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  10. Avatar photo rancher

    For Sale in Humboldt County for $750.00 a couple weeks ago.

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  11. Avatar photo stanley kwiecinski

    pharma dude back in business?

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  12. Avatar photo Ronniecarlo

    Although I love my BF,I have a kind of distaste for a flipper that won’t even take a few minutes to back it off the trailer THEN take a picture…

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  13. Avatar photo Metalted

    Cool van but, really?? 3 pictures and few lines of description???
    For 4500 bucks.
    What a tool of a seller!!

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    • Avatar photo Bobsmyuncle

      Yeah I get what you’re saying but really, what needs to be said?

      There is enough information to decide if you either are interested or aren’t. If you are you obviously need to see it and will call.

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  14. Avatar photo Rich

    My gripe about these kind of flippers is that is not what the spirit of the hobby is about. It’s about getting them back on the road and helping other enthusiasts to get them on the road. Not about gouging enthusiasts for a profit.

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    • Avatar photo Dave Wright

      Everyone involved in the process is a volunteer………so, how do you make a living? I don’t like dishonest people no matter what they are doing, but byond that…..who cares? Nobody is living in Brentwood making a living flipping cars.

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    • Avatar photo Brian

      @Rich: Sorry, but that’s just ridiculous. It may be a “hobby” reserved solely for “enthusiasts” to you, but it’s simply another object to a great many. As in it’s just a car; an object, not medical care in a natural disaster situation. Granted, some of these car/objects are more desirable and therefor more valuable than others, but at the end of the day its no different than a piece of hand made art, a good pair of shoes, or a toilet – It’s only worth what someone will pay you for it (ie: supply and demand) and if you think it’s overpriced, simply don’t buy it. Maybe someone else will, maybe not…. and the seller will have to lower the price a little, or a lot, before it will eventually sell. Even if the seller is too lazy to properly clean it, or even take it off the trailer – if you want it, and you’ve done your research and you think it’s a good deal, you’ll buy it regardless of the presentation.

      People buy $5,000 Cartier watches largely due to the presentation and marketing; not because it tells time 10X better than a $500 watch. People buy vintage cars because they want one just like that, and there aren’t very many of them out there – so you pay whatever you have to to get it. But don’t blame or bad-mouth a seller for wanting to get as much money as they can for something they have, and YOU want. There aren’t very many truly free markets left in this day and age, fortunately used cars are still one of them.

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  15. Avatar photo JCW

    I say everything has a certain value. If I get to buy it for less than the value or maybe can do a few thing to it to increase the value and then sell it for a profit why not. Not any different than the guy that goes to the weekly car auction and the takes it to his place and sells it and makes a profit. If flippers are bad then licensed flippers are worse they make way more of each vehicle the the average flipper. I will say though take it off the trailer and wash it.

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