German Junkyard Rescue: 1952 VW Beetle

I’m sure many of us think longingly about being able to visit a junkyard from the heyday of when our preferred era of vehicles were reaching their useful end. For one VW enthusiast stationed in Germany in the 1970s, finding a split window Bug was the stuff of fantasy, but indeed there was a very early Beetle in a local junkyard in Stuggart at the time of his deployment. This Beetle has led a charmed life, as it’s now in the U.S. and fresh out of another long-term storage stint, and offered here on eBay in surprisingly nice condition following an amateur restoration at a military base. Bidding is over $28K with the reserve unmet.

This is a wicked find if you’re an air-cooled enthusiast, as it’s not only a desirable split window but has the full assortment of tasty European-market features, like the semaphores in the B-pillar, wingnut seats, rear ashtray and more. At first, I thought this may have been an extremely rare “Zwitter” Beetle, but it’s one month too early, having been manufactured in September and with the obvious tell-tale sign of the dual glovebox dashboard. Still, early production Beetles are exceedingly hard to find in the states, and I’d have a difficult time letting this one go if it were mine.

The seller notes it has largely been hidden in storage for the last few decades, going into hiding for 20 years in Florida after arriving stateside, and then spending another 15 years under lock and key after being rescued from its first long-term slumber. In that time, the interior was restored and still presents quite well. On a personal note, cars like this give me hope that my junkyard rescue Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 Cosworth will still be appreciated decades from now despite the provenance being less than stellar; conversely, I think the rescued-from-a-junkyard context makes this Beetle all the more appealing.

Fun fact: these early Bugs actually had a push button start! The seller says the car runs well, with the aluminum case 25 b.h.p. engine and “crash box” transmission both in good order. No word on whether the engine was previously rebuilt, but I have to believe that was a part of the amateur restoration performed when the Beetle was rescued from the junkyard. While not perfect, the seller says it still presents very nicely, and bidders seem to agree given the current bid. This 1952 Beetle is a rare find and would be a nice centerpiece for any air-cooled collection.


  1. Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

    Das ist ein toller Käfer!

    Like 8
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    Love it!

    Like 3
  3. Dickie F

    There seems to be lots more value in cars with split rear windows ?

    Like 4
  4. On and On On and On Member

    I don’t think these will lose money as an investment now. Even Gen-Xer’s and Millennials like them. Their rugged simplicity and spartan amenities make them likable.

    Like 3
  5. Todd Van Winkle

    Ill take a dozen….to go. Absolutely awesome!!

    Like 3
  6. 71FXSuperGlide

    25 hp? I would think a pull start instead of a push. LOL

    Already at $28K, $50K?

    Like 1
    • sourpwr

      In the day I remember JC Whitney selling a rope start for your Bug! Wrap it around a pulley with a notch in it and give it a yank.

      Like 6
  7. Ian C

    I wonder how much a kidney sells for now-a-days. I can get by with just one!

    Like 2
  8. TimM

    Oldie but goody!!!

    Like 1
  9. XMA0891

    When I was young, every day I was driven by a workshop that had split windshield bus, (dare I say 21-window?), that very-definitely had the roof of a split window bug welded on to the bus’ roof. Clearly a stalled-project – It sat there for years. It is hard for me to believe there was a time when this stuff really wasn’t that big of a deal.

    Like 2
    • RJ

      Maybe I saw the same one – Gate 5 in Sausalito, maybe?

      Like 1
  10. Lance

    Sehr teuer Kafer. Ich denke nicht.

    Like 2
    • Bluetec320 Bluetec320 Member

      Einverstanden, aber es wäre cool zu haben

      Like 1
  11. Albert

    I’m long time friend with the former owner of this car who sold it less than 6 months ago to the current seller. If you want a split window that’s sorted and ready to go this is a great example. I know he’s driven the car from Florida to New York at least once in his long term ownership.

    Like 3
  12. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    What are wingnut seats?

    Like 2
    • On and On On and On Member

      Glad you asked that Mike. I was wondering. My guess is that they adjusted with wing nuts?

      Like 3
      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        LOL Gregg, that was my first guess! Take care and hopefully the truth will come forward. Mike.

        Like 2
    • Albert

      The slide function of the seats is adjusted with wing nuts. Basically makes it impossible to move on the fly with the spring and clip adjustment like most cars. Standard Beetles were your basic car. It was the car for someone that just needed a basic car.

      Like 3
      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Thanks Albert, always learning here. Take care, Mike.

  13. Patrick JP

    Awesome car !

    Like 2
  14. 138771

    That’s an odd looking air cleaner. I would have expected an oil bath air cleaner on a bug of that age.

    • Albert

      That’s the correct one. There were two different styles in the early years. This is one of them.

  15. Edward

    I owned a ‘54 oval for a number of years. I restored it to similar specs as this car presents. Complete engine and split case transmission overhaul done. New rubber seals everywhere needed, and there are many! Headliner, chrome plating, seat rebuild, tires, paint, the list goes like any who’ve done this job before. Now, this car is almost completely different! Few parts fit this generation vehicle to that ‘54! It may look similar to later years, but know in advance, RARE!

    Like 1
  16. Gaspumpchas

    The stuff that dreams are made of. Condition is amazing. Makes this ol grey hair, who grew up working on air cooled vw’s, smile. Good luck to the new owner. This is bumper to bumper unobtainium!!!


    Like 3
  17. Jack Hammer

    Around 1963 I had a Bondo filled ’58 Speedster. I sold the restorable body(for $200) to buy a 1953 oval window ragtop in which to put the Normal 1600, as the 25 hp original engine he’d seen better days. With some cutting, the 1600 slid right in, and made the car a joy to drive. The ’53 transmission only lasted about a week. Fortunately my buddy Don LaJoie(stock car driver) owned a junk yard with a bent windshield ’53 Porsche, and it’s transmission bolted right in. So did the giant finned aluminum drum brakes and backing plates. The only modification necessary was to grind out the parking brake push rod a little because the cable wasn’t quite long enough. For some reason, it ate VW starters for lunch and I cut a port behind the back seat so I could swap starters from inside the car. Koni shocks, sway bars and a de-cambering, plus 4 new fenders, and it was ready to take me to college.
    Let’s see…I ruined three, original, restorable, collector quality cars to make one homemade bastard. I doubt that I’ll be admitted to Car Heaven. Had fun, though.

    Like 5
    • Gaspumpchas

      Great Story, Jack! Stuff we all did just to make them go fast. We had a blue colored black plate California bug that we pulled the body off for a dune buggy,and set behind the shop. Guy drove in one day with a freshly rolled bug–sold him the bug and swapped the body for $75. Those were good days, fun to work on and nothing else mattered. Cheers!!


      Like 1
    • kenneth tiven

      Familiar. In the early 1960s at Autohaus Porsche in Yellow Springs, Ohio and later in Fairborn, Lou Gregg and his team put many a Porsche engine into a VW or Karman Ghia. One was our own 1956 Sedan fitted with a Super 90 engine and brakes from a Porsche. While going from Mid-Ohio track back to the shop to fetch parts for a competitor in E-production SCCA I got stopped by an Ohio state Patrolman who wanted to know how a VW could go so fast. I showed him… he was impressed enough to just write me for a noisy muffler and suggest I go a bit slower. Ken

      Like 3
  18. john willis

    And once again I am reminded why I skip laverys articles….ENOUGH wth the effing junk 190,already!!!

    Like 1
    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      Confused why you read the story then John. $28,700.00 now with 3 days to go. I know little about early bugs but there is big interest in this rare Beetle. And I learned something from Albert today, always a good thing in my book.

      Like 6
  19. John

    Refresh my memory again please- what is a “zwitter” vw?

    • Albert

      It’s a split rear window with the dashboard from an oval window. They were only made for a brief period in 1953.

  20. Edward

    VW ran out parts at production facilities until gone. Features of later models, such as larger windows, were begun well before the model year came around. For a brief moment VW produced a split window with an oval window era dash. Economy of the time.

  21. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Ended: Jun 15, 2019 , 4:48PM
    Current bid:US $28,900.00
    [ 31 bids ] Reserve not met, now relisted.

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