How’s About A Schwimm? 1944 Volkswagen Schwimmwagen

Although drawn and built upon dark times, this Volkswagen Schwimmwagon was an ingeniously designed amphibious vehicle used in World War II. Based off of Ferdinand Porsches Volkswagen designs, this Schwimmwagen shares a resemblance to a Victorian era bath tub. Featuring 4 wheel drive, and a propeller system that operates off of the engine’s crankshaft, this Schwimmwagon was a simple, yet genius design. This VW has been restored, but has spent some time in a warehouse, needing to be revived once more. For the amphibious car collectors out there, this VW will be the pinnacle of your collection. This fine piece of history is offered with a “buy it now” of $180,000. Find it here on ebay out of Scotts Valley, California.

Schwimmwagens are fascinating to look at in person. They seem so simple, yet there are so many well thought out ideas executed in the design. For instance there are wood floors in this cars. The wood floor sits an inch or two above the steel floors. Then the wood planks are gapped allowed mud and dirt to fall off of soldiers boots to improve drivability in war conditions. Wouldn’t want a muddy shoe impeding a soldiers driving ability. One thing about the Schwimmwagen is that it was not intended to be occupied by one person. You would want at minimum a second person with you to drop the propeller when hitting the water.

The propeller system is simple yet effective. The propeller was simply dropped to where it would lock in with the crank shaft. The crankshaft and propeller surface are keyed where they would mesh up without a complicated type of locking system. This air cooled engine is slow and simple, and is properly ventilated around the water. This particular engine and bay look nice with only a few minor chips of paint around the pinch seam where the deck lid rests. Equipped with 4 wheel drive, this thing is just dying to take on some muddy environments.

The exterior overall looks clean and authentic based upon the photographs provided. The seller claims to have restoration photos, and I am sure those would be an interesting sight to see. The canopy looks correct, as do the externally mounted accessories. The “tub” looks nice, with no real evidence of heavy repair, or rust. Having only 100 miles on the restoration, this war era machine is in nice condition. If you had your pick, which would you choose, a few Amphicars, or just this one Schwimmwagen?

 

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Comments

  1. Adam Wright

    For $180,000 you would think he would tune it up, it is cool though, not sure if it’s $180,000 cool.

  2. curt

    That is so cool,i’ve never even heard of them before.but i think its a little high priced.

  3. scooter8

    IF. I had 180.000 laying around i would buy a 69 hemi daytona4spd. so at least i could look stupid driving in chicago traffic. BUT! when bullets fly! (and they will) i can at least get out of dodge(pun). never heard of this vehicle either. interesting!

  4. Mark S

    Super rare not many survived the war even fewer have survived to make it to this date. If a rust bucket 356 can be worth $50K to $100K when all they are is a vin number than why can’t this early child of F Porsche not be worth the $180K ask. Where are you ever going to find another one never mind a restored one. This shwimmwagon should be in a military museum where it can be seen buy the public to see the alternate to the the faithful Jeep. Rare find.

    • '63 Lark Daytona ragtop

      There was one in a nearby military museum. Might even be this one. The “Military Vehicle technology Foundation” in Portola Valley, CA was disbanded and sold-off to the Collings Foundation is Massachusetts. Don’t know if their Schwimmwagen went to Mass or was auctioned-off.

  5. Rick

    A guy near me has a restored example as well. Not overly rare, and there are replicas available. I think this one may be a little overpriced, but a true, original Shwimm – if provenance could be had that it was actually used in a theater of war – could certainly command six figures. These really are neat little machines. When I saw the one that came to one of our air-cooled shows, the owner mentioned he drove it on the interstate – speed limit of 65 – at it’s max speed of around 40 and cable operated brakes. Big furry cahones indeed….

    • Jason

      Wow! The only time my CJ-3A sees the interstate is when it’s being pulled behind my truck. Big cajones indeed.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      I didn’t know there were replicas. Do you have any links? Do you know anything about them?

  6. JW

    Wow $180K, I could get a Hemi Cuda with change left for gas. Cool but PASS !!!

  7. Jesper

    In that price class, there is so many much cooler cars.
    For 180,000 i would not take it for a swimm :-(

  8. HeadMaster1

    Rare? Heck, I use to see one almost everyday when I went to work…….Of course I also used to see a mid-engine twin-turbo W12 stuffed into a GTI…….Yeah, I did happen to work for VW, LOL……Very cool machines, and as a collectable it’s worth every penny in todays market

  9. Woodie Man

    Schweins! Worth every penny. Just not to me.

  10. Alan (Michigan)

    Engage Curmudgeon

    Now hold on a minute here. I have no way to place a logical value on vehicles of this type, particularly over a range of conditions between “basket” and “pristine”.

    But this can’t possibly be considered a top-shelf example of one. It is just too obvious that it was barely disassembled, masked, and given a monotone spray to cover any and all parts, in and out, with no regard to whether it was produced that way originally or not. The term “restored” used here is pretty loosely applied. Too bad that many of the photos are of a reduced resolution and small as a result. But those which are larger point to a not-so-careful pre-paint preparation of surfaces, both large and small.

    On a machine with this supposed value, I immediately don the frown of the disbeliever when I see things like the condition of the mounted spare. C’mon, someone could not even be bothered to dismount the tire, properly prepare the wheel, apply good paint, and install a new valve stem (or tube, as required) before remounting the tire. Cheap, shoddy work, as far as I can tell. This is Certainly far from what I would call a restored vehicle.

    Lastly, the choice of paint. Not color, but relative gloss level. You can find photos of all types of personalization online, but nearly all are flat finishes. This one? Too shiny. Bah.

    Disengage Curmudgeon

  11. Rick

    Hate to disagree Alan, but this is a pretty accurate restoration. Unless you’ve seen one in person, you can’t grasp how monotone these are. Paint gloss level of the originals was, in fact, a semi-gloss and liberally applied everywhere. Whether this owner decided to dismount the tire before spraying the wheel is irrelevant. War machines like these were produced quickly and somewhat haphazardly to get them into the fray. Little was cared for surface prep or how carefully paint was applied. These were disposable vehicles.

    • Alan (Michigan)

      No offense taken, of course, Rick. But really. The handle on the engine lid appears to be held on by an epoxy blob under the paint. Look at the photos on the ‘net. It was bolted on. Certainly war machines were made to survive for a while, and not expected to be around long enough to worry about eventual rust, etc. I just can’t be OK with painting over 70 year-old leftovers and calling it good. Not for $180K. Now, at $18K, that’d be different, and expected even.
      Looks to me like mold evidence on the canvas. No padding in the seats, as was apparently supplied, and the intake system is incorrect in the way it passes through the firewall, from all I can see of other examples I looked at photos of. I wonder if the seller would guarantee it to be “seaworthy”?

      I found plenty of shots of people running these things in all kinds of muck, rivers, lakes, and even flotillas of many at a gathering. Are the values so intrinsically high, that no matter how they are treated, no matter what the condition, you just can’t damage the worth? I guess I am out of the loop here.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        And good for you for admitting it.

        I find it interesting that people will condemn the asking price in the same breath that they admit they don’t know anything about them.

        We can comment all we want on whether a vehicle is worth it to OURSELVES. But you have to understand the market and have familiarity with the make/model to comment definitively on evaluation.

    • Alan (Michigan)

      So, I do some research.
      And I find this:
      https://auctionata.com/en-us/o/91618/vw-typ-166-schwimmwagen-4-wheel-drive-1944

      The difference between the two vehicles is huge, in terms of the execution of the restorations. So, values are high, most of them were lost during or within a short time after WWII. My original post addressed the condition of the subject Schwimmwagen, based on the “restoration”. And, I’m still in that mode.

      This one impresses me:
      http://www.oldbug.com/schwim1.htm
      I wish there were information on at least the ask price, if not the actual sale amount.

      The subject of this BF listing? Great bones, poor execution. BTW, via close-ups of both the ones I have listed, I see that the handle on the engine cover was probably spot welded in place, but it’s outline at the attachment point should be well defined. This one? Yuk. For what seems to be the apex of the market as far as the “ask” goes, the vehicle itself falls short.

    • Alan (Michigan)
  12. Rocko

    I would like one of these running, before restoration and under 4k. At 180k and all prettied up, this is for the overly wealthy who don’t know what to do with themselves.

  13. 86 Vette Convertible

    Never seen one, never even knew they existed. Quite an interesting example to say the least.

  14. Righteous Bob

    No matter how much we get it wasn’t enough, no matter how cheap we got it for it wasn’t cheap enough!! It’s not that it’s over priced, it’s just more than you want to pay!!

  15. G 1

    I like the accessories. One to get it to shore and the other to bury it when she drops a valve. “Humor” for all you sensitive types.

  16. '63 Lark Daytona ragtop

    Buy a Studebaker Weasel if you want a WW2 toy at a better price that fits in your garage

  17. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    Who ever is giving ‘thumbs down’ marks for no valid reason on various participants’ posts- could you please stop.

    Like 1
  18. Dave

    You have to be deeply involved in the VW scene to appreciate these. VW produced some very rare and some very unusual cars, not just Beetles. These and Kubelwagens were only some of the many. The value is there if someone is willing to put forth the money and effort required to bring it up to 100% correct and accurate, I have seen these sell for up to $250,000. And yes, they did swim.

  19. Joris Wijnker

    The VW schwimm in the picture is located at the Louwman museum in The Hague, the Netherlands. Nice and dull, not a reflective floating target…..

  20. Bill

    I had to laugh when I read.. not rare and plenty of reproductions… um.. no. These are rare, not like the Kubelwagen/Thing that was popular in the 70’s. These are rocking horse poop rare. Even the kits are hard to come by and expensive.. trust me. I’ve been looking for one!

  21. Chip. Winslow

    That Schwimmer is over priced for the standard of restoration….looks like a paint restoration, there was one sold in Germany a few months back that was high end resto and cheaper…not sure with covid prices as collectable card have really jumped up, pre covid a good restored Schwimmerwagen would go for 150-160k.,..apparently 150 Schwiimers in existence

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