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Mexico, Here We Come: 1966 VW Baja Bug


After watching The Love Bug as a child, I thought there was nothing cooler than a “hopped up” VW Beetle!  One of the ways to modify Beetles in the late 60’s and 70’s was to replace the fenders and sometimes the hood with fiberglass components that allowed a lot more wheel and tire clearance.  This car has had that done at some point, and is available here on craigslist in Raleigh, NC for $600.


This similar vehicle highlights the fiberglass components in black, and also shows the commonly used white “spoker” wheels. The term “Baja Bug” came into use as the modified VW’s were used on the Baja peninsula and in off-road applications. While it might seem sacrilege to those originality fans out there, remember that over 25 million Beetles were built and they were very inexpensive platforms to modify at the time.


The seller states that this Bug has a full roll cage, although looking at the rectangular structural tubing across the back bar it wouldn’t pass tech at any races I’ve been to.  There’s also a fuel cell, which may or may not be what’s visible under that structural tubing.  I don’t know exactly why one would want to change the weight distribution of a Beetle to be even more on the rear by moving the fuel storage from front to rear, but someone thought it was a good idea.

Although there aren’t many pictures, the ad does state that the car has a tow bar for easy transport once you pick it up, and lists a right side floor pan as needing attention.  Most of the glass is included, as are two seats, although since they aren’t shown it’s unclear what type of seats they are and what condition they are in.


Above all, I’m struck by how inexpensive this is for a relatively solid shell with the Baja Bug components.  A quick search found that the components alone are around $550, so if this is the type of vehicle you want, you’re only paying around $50 for the rest of the shell, including a 1600cc dual-port engine that turns over and “ok” brakes.  Do you feel like a run down the Baja?  Let us know in the comments!


  1. graham ayers

    There have been a few of your ‘Barn Finds’ that I would have liked … however this IS one that I would have ‘dreams’ of owning. Built one (kinda) similar to this one & loved it … chopped fenders & widened the rims with fat tires … The police dept. did not like the hand made stinger exhaust, so after a few more runs to our local dunes it was ‘retired’ … (big sigh …)

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  2. Michael H

    The baja bug pictured in the vw ad is considered to be the first built back in the 60s. It was built by Gary Emory, a Southern California customizer later known for his “outlaw” Porsche 356 builds. The baja was given to his daughter. Unfortunately it was rolled over, but it still exists at a farm in Oregon awaiting restoration. I got to see it after checking a garage sale that had a 60 beetle for sale.

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  3. jim s

    i think i see more then the asking price in parts in just the 2 photos the seller posted. for someone who lived close this could be a nice find.

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Jim, this is IN my home town. Believe me, if I hadn’t just moved and wasn’t still moving cars and parts around, I would have thought about it. I hope someone steps in and sees what this could become!

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  4. Ropey

    Sorry to disagree, but I’m not seeing the value here … no title, missing parts, needs a floor and some red flags (mentioned above) that the builder may not really know what heck he is doing … Unfinished and abandoned Baja projects litter the backyards of this country, and are always popping up on CL in a similar “I got enthusiastic and then lost the will to live …” sort of way. But when you add up all the work that still needs to be done, usually you’re better off getting one ready to roll.

    My advice to anyone wanting a Baja or buggy is to go to the source, trawl the South West Craigslists, go to TheSamba or Race-Dezert classifieds and, with a little patience, you can pick up a genuine desert runner on the cheap.

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