Mike’s Split Window: 1952 VW Beetle

1952 VW Beetle

I don’t watch much television, when I finally take a break from Barn Finds I don’t really want to stare at another screen, but every once in awhile I like to catch a few minutes of TV. My go to show lately has been American Pickers, I won’t lie I would love to go picking with Mike and Frank someday! I love digging through old junk to uncover our own history (if either Mike or Frank see this, get in touch!). So when I came across this split window Beetle here on eBay, I was pretty excited when I realized it’s Mike’s car. It’s currently in Columbia, Tennessee with a BIN of $28,500 and appears to be at a VW shop.

Mike's Split Window Beetle

When it comes to how cars age, I’ve always been amazed by the look that old Beetles take on as time rolls forward. For a mass produced econo car, they seem to age extremely well. I know how some of you feel about the word patina, but I’ve seen more Bugs with great looking patina than any other car! I don’t want to make anyone upset, so I won’t say this particular car has patina, but I will say that it is nicely aged car that doesn’t so any signs of serious corrosion. I can’t say for certain that it’s all original, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is its original paint.

VW Split Window Beetle

Now before I go any further, I have to comment on the price. Split window Beetles go for pretty serious money these days, but I think this is a bit high for this one. It has had a lot of work done to it already and is said to be a good driver. If it really is an all original survivor, than the price might not be too far off, but you will want to take a closer look at it before bidding. Hopefully the price is based on originality and condition rather than its ties to a TV show celebrity. Personally, that doesn’t add much if any value to me, no offence Mike!

1952 VW Beetle Interior

Given the condition of the interior and the overall look of this car, I’m pretty confident that most of this car is original. Remember it is a 64 year old car and lots of things could have happened to it over the years, so if the price is based on originality you’ll want to make sure it really is before forking over $28k! If it turns out to be a real survivor, do you think it’s worth this kind of money? So who else would like to go out on a pick with the American Pickers? Maybe we could have showdown with Mike and Frank? Nah… but it sure would be fun to go picking with them!


  1. Nessy

    Almost 30g for an old Beetle….Split window or not, no way. Just think about how many of these old cheap Bugs and those silly 20 whatever window VW busses we junked….

    • Davnkatz

      Well, it ain’t original – looks “almost” identical to the one my friend Donnie bought. Would like to know if it has the little handle on the floor that switches to emergency gas reserve. Anyway, the turn lights on the front fenders are NOT original equipment. Turn indicators – which can clearly be seen in the first pic – are “cute” semafors mounted on the pillars between the doors and rear windows.

      Like 1
  2. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Maybe for that price you could put together some kind of “bundle”. You know, throw in one of Frank’s motorcycles or something?

    Like 1
    • Off2hcky

      Hahaha! Good one Rex!

      • Jim

        I see it’s sold already?

  3. Drew

    The definition of “survivor” may differ between folks, but the ad clearly states the engine is not original, the rear fenders and taillights are not correct and it has a new electrical harness, not to mention the wheels. Not a survivor IMHO.

    • Richard Prokopchuk

      I could have sworn that when they bought it on the show, that the engine was original. I wonder what changed, other than adding non to original.

  4. Ron

    I met frank when I was in iowa. He was coming out of a Harley Dealership in Bettendorf. We talked for quite awhile, really nice guy Hope to meet up again sometime Frank

  5. Richard Prokopchuk

    I don’t know if anyone noticed, but the green USA plates on the car are for US Forces stationed in Germany. I had a few of those.

    • Horse Radish

      Looks like the veteran finally let it go after bringing it to the US after being stationed in Germany.
      Pity on the person who will pay anywhere near the $28k.

      Like 1
    • John Newhouse

      I have had several tours in Germany too. Last “Green Tag” acquisitions were 2 bugs. 1972 US spec 2nd owner. Originally with auto trans, this car was my daily driver in Nuremberg for 4 years. Yes the trans was replaced to manual.
      Now my second Bug “57” was as original as the German Government would allow for old cars still being driven on the streets. Due to ‘Safety Regulations’ and TUV (inspection) in Germany, all cars are required to upgrade to current standards. That is why these foreign cars have the wrong headlights, turn signals among some quickly identifiable errors on “Original” cars.
      The 52 has had several major changes done to meet safety for both German and US.
      My 57 with the exception of lighting was all original and in exceptionally good condition. Great paint, perfect interior and rust free. I was the 3rd owner. I purchased it from an old class mate of mine who just happened to stationed on the same base. He purchased it from the original owner with the book. it took me 2 years to get it from him. His wife wanted a new Mercedes.
      As several folks have already mentioned, the asking price for this car in present condition is too much, especially when advertising it as a barn find and listing it on ebay as original. No sir! not even close.
      By the way I paid $2500.00 for mine with an extra engine and trans that was only 112 numbers different than the car.

  6. Jim

    I could think of many better ways to waste $30k

  7. jeff

    hi……. I saw this episode — Mike Brother — went to get the car … it was 12 feet up in the air on the 2nd floor of a barn ( really was ) they used a ” skidsteer ” ti pick it up and drop to the ground — I think they paid $ 9500 . Original matching engine was not there but another engine was included ( 1953 I believe ) .. they probably spent — a few thousand to get it installed and get some mechanical work done — SO looks like they want to DOUBLE their investment …………. Hmm

    Like 2
    • Don D

      This is not that same car from the show. If you took the trouble to read the listing you would know that.

  8. JW

    Cassidy I couldn’t agree more to what you have stated, I quit watching the show because of Mike. I’ve been to there store in Iowa north of Davenport. I saw the show on the Fairlane and what he paid for it so when we stopped to check out the store there it was with a price twice what he paid and it needed major body work after a close inspection. The store was busy that day mostly TV buffs but not one was checking out the car but us. The next time I head back home to Illinois I think I will stop again and see if it’s still there. All the items in the store are pretty high priced but then again so is the items in the Gold & Silver store on Pawn Stars as I’ve been there and met Chumley.

  9. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    Hey, what’s wrong with making double your investment? I’ve made this argument before: you don’t quibble with the grocery store when you walk in there and buy a dozen eggs…and you don’t ask them how much they paid for them. If you want the eggs, you pay their price or walk out. It seems a standard margin in the junk re-sale business is 100% profit, or twice what you paid for something.

    Same deal with Mike and Frank. They’re in the business of buying and re-selling stuff.
    They gotta make a profit. If the profit margin seems too high, don’t buy their product. Rather, go yourself and look in barns until you find your car of choice 2 stories up, then rent a lift to get it down, transport it, fix it, get it running, stick it on ebay, pay eBay’s fees. After the time and expense of all this work, why shouldn’t they make a profit?

    Finally, Mike and Frank buy stuff from hoarders that will otherwise rust into the ground or get thrown away when they die. They aren’t yanking gold chains off little old ladies’ necks.

    Like 2
    • Cassidy

      Rex, I don’t have a problem with them doubling their money. They’re driving far and wide to hunt stuff down. The problem I have is him flat out lying to the owner to get whatever it is that’s he’s spotted. In the Fairlane episode, he was so excited to get the car, because its his favorite! It was all to get the car as cheap as he could to increase his profit margin.

    • bob

      ditto what Rex said

    • JW

      Yes anyone should be able to make a profit but I don’t appreciate getting raped without first getting a kiss. My only issue is Mike has a attitude problem and that’s that, he comes out on the good end or the seller is being unrealistic. Asking what Mike will ask after he buys it, why does he have to make the statement on the show that the seller is bogus because he knows what his item is worth, Mike could like you say just walk away without making crude comments about the seller.

      • Horse Radish

        ditto what JW says

  10. Tory

    That’s a different split window bug Jeff.

  11. JimmyinTEXAS

    I don’t watch “Pickers” much any more, but trying to double their investment is their stated goal… business and all, you know..

  12. fred

    Cassidy, Mike loves Harley Knuckleheads more than Fairlanes but resells them on a regular basis. He buys and sells, that’s what he does. I was in the antiques business for 5 years so know it well, for every item you double your money on, there will be 2 items you lose money on. It all evens out and isn’t the gold mine people think it is from watching the Roadshow.

  13. Cassidy

    Fred, I have been buying and selling stuff for a long time, I’m very familiar with how to make a profit. My point is that he flat out lied to buy that Fairlane, leading the owner to believe Mike was going to keep it and love just like the owner had for all those years. Any idea if he does the same thing with Harleys? I’ll go out on a limb here and guess that if he’s talking to an intmidating Harley rider about buying his bike, Mike’s BS won’t be quite as deep, as lying to one of them might not go so well if they swung by his shop and saw the prices on the bikes he’s selling. At any rate, more power to them to have a going resell business. I just would like to see him playing it straight with the people he’s buying from, which he does occaissionly

  14. Francisco

    Why is the seller putting the apostrophe after the year (52′)? He must not be too smart.

    • Horse Radish

      52- ish, not sure about the year ?, maybe ?


  15. jim s

    if you want a 1952 there are very few for sale. but if you want an air cooled beetle and the year of car is not important, for the asking price of this 52, you can still buy a nice daily driver and put a lot of money in the bank. interesting find.

  16. ydnar

    Flippers are not helping the “little guy” buy into the classic car market.
    I have read complaint after complaint here that only the rich guys get the good stuff.
    ( I agree)

    Buying cars out of a barn or garage does not sound like the previous owners are just letting the stuff rust into the ground.

    Like 1
  17. John H.

    Good comment stream. Of course some purists wouldn’t have wanted even to wash it from the grime. I like my split window better than Mike’s. (Actually it’s my wife’s!)

    • JW

      John That is my Dream Car, beautiful.

  18. Dolphin Member

    Split window Beetles are definitely a niche thing, and since they are all old and there aren’t many left you pay up if you want one. I drove a friend’s split window many years ago when I had a 36 HP Beetle because I couldn’t afford to run anything that was more expensive, and his car made mine seem powerful and refined. Now when I drive any air cooled Porsche younger than a C2 they remind me too much of my 36 HP Beetle, which for me is a problem.

    Would I spend half the asking for this? Not in my lifetime. But there are lots of other rides that I wouldn’t pay up for either. Most of us just have general build types that we go for, and lots that we don’t.

    As for flippers, I guess there are good and bad, and I’ve mentioned a couple that I liked recently here on BF. I think Mike might be the second kind tho, especially if he throws out asides about how much he’s going to make on a car that he’s talking the owner out of for short $$…..and especially doing it on TV.

    I think the best you can hope for there is that it’s just part of the act. But we all know that for some flippers it isn’t just part of the act.

    I just saw John’s wife’s split window—his wife’s!
    All I got to say is, that woman has taste.

  19. Jim W

    The problem I have with this whole thing is when someone posts a price that is way out of line, and then the ad disappears. We really never know if it sold or was sold for considerably less. This leads everyone to believe that it sold for asking price. Then the next one to be advertised is at the inflated rate. These inflated prices are all over the internet because of this. Rusted out parts cars are now in the 2 to 3 thousand dollar prices. I do agree that if you want to pay up for these inflated cars, go for it. If you want to flip for a profit, go for it. The unfortunate result is higher prices for all.

  20. Francisco

    Guys. This is a television show we’re talking about here. It’s scripted, rehearsed, and directed. Mike and Frank are its main actors. The sellers are the guest actors.The outcomes are generated by the shows director and producer. And they are agreed upon by the sellers and the actors. Everybody gets paid by the sponsors.

    • Donnie

      Thank you .I love this sight because it is abought cars / not TV

    • hhaleblian

      Amen Brother. It’s a tv show. Smoke, mirrors, and scripts, just like the primaries.

  21. RON

    well while enternaing for a while, oks like the “real car people” have caught on to “the pickers” if you think seeing the iowa store is a let down take a trip to the nashville store. i live in the area and this whole scam is built around the tv show. there is next to nothing in the store except the normal made in china tourist trap sovenier junk which is i guess what helps pay the power bill get paid. believe me for ever find and successfull “steal they make there are enough legitamate collectors out therethat are savy enough to send them down the road. i am like many other commenters on here love old stuff and have collected all my life and by no means have the so called hoardes off mentioned.they don’t have any kind of magical skills like they attempt to have you believe. just a couple guys who never had a job and are money makers just by accident a lot of time. lot of these people out there and have successfull business because daddy bought up the old molds when they were worth nothing and hoarded it like the ones they call “hoarders” untill there was a need. if you notice they all find one another eventually and if you have a general knowledge of history you will find the many errors in their “brilliant fact gathering knowledge” is often wrong.. as for heir honesty and finesse the little bearded butterbald is the one that i don’t understand how he returns home in one piece.!! theen there is “danny the count” and “fast and furious and don’t forget ” the ass monkeys” don’t get me started there. it’s a t.v. show folks. kinda like “the west wing” 8 years of bad entertainment. turn off the t.v. and get in the shop and learn the real truth!!!

    • grant


  22. Mark S

    Back to the car in question, no way no way no way is that car worth $28K. Mybe $8K on a good day but that is it. When I was a kid my much older cousin took the body off of one of these, welded up a tube role cage to the pan and made a bush buggy. They lived on an anchorage in the forestry. I remember going out there and my cousins had built a track in the bush, we would beat the hell out of that pan and motor every time we were out there. Good times, not sure what he did with the body. Finally as to the price!……. If it makes some poor sap happy to say to his pals that he has Mikes split window bug,and he wants to pay 28 large for bragging rights then that’s great for him.

  23. mark

    No way I would pay anywhere near 28K for that. However it is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. To some a 65 Mustang is a classic car and to others it is an old Ford.

    • Francisco

      An old Ford Falcon at that…

  24. RoughDiamond

    As suggested earlier this show is staged from A-Z. It’s all about the ratings.

    • Davnkatz

      AND – not staged very well. The scenes of driving are not even slightly realistic. It’s also unbelievable that when someone offers an item, they often rerspond, “Oh, it is worth much more than that. I will give you X# dollars for it.” I do like to see some of the stuff they “find”.

  25. Mike

    I saw the show where his Brother, Robbie Wolfe, got the VW out of a barn, It was sitting up in the loft of the barn, they even showed the rigging how the owner got it up there many years earlier. The Motor had been taking out and was sitting in another building if I remember, but they checked the numbers on it, and it was the correct year for the Bug, they did not say where or not it was the original . The owner had added the different tail lights, but the originals was still with it. The best part of it was how they got it out of the loft, using a skid steer. Glad to see the Bug being sold.

  26. Tory

    Price dropped to 25k and that was a good enough deal for me. So it will be added to the collection. Anyone in the market looking for a split window had better grab one soon. Prices are definitely on the rise. A quick glance of prices of available cars on the samba will see a definite void in splits in the “driver” category-the majority being 15k basket cases requiring loads of metalwork/welding/parts chasing and 60-70k completely restored cars. There are rarely middle of the road drivers that come on the market. While it will need some work to make it correct, at least it’s something that I’ll be able to drive and enjoy in the meantime! Just to clarify, this is a car Mike already owned. It’s NOT the car from the “Beetle in a Haystack” episode of American Pickers. That car was found in a Pennsylvania barn, and Mike is keeping that car for the time being…

  27. Jack Quantrill

    A weld-in split window section used to be available to make a fake ‘52. No semaphores would give it away!

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