No Reserve Rag Top: 1961 Volkswagen Beetle

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This 1961 Volkswagen Beetle was parked in the garage it’s currently stashed away in three years ago and hasn’t seen much action since then. It’s a desirable Webasto sunroof model, the kind of opening that necessitates cutting a hole in the top that goes almost the entire length of the roof. The rest of the Beetle looks fairly sound, but of course, it needs new floors. The bodywork is tidy and it’s mildly surprising the floors are bad as the rest of the Bug looks so well preserved. The seller has listed it here on eBay with no reserve, and bidding seems quite reasonable at the moment as it edges towards $7,000. The car is located in Stow, Ohio.

The Beetle is not currently running, but apparently it was still operational when it was parked three years ago – and ran quite well at the time. The engine compartment looks largely complete with no evidence of any funny business under the hood, though the question for the next owner will undoubtedly be how much effort is the existing mill worth putting into. If it’s matching numbers, yes, you could justify the necessary revival efforts, but if it’s not, finding a replacement engine that runs is downright easy – as is swapping the non-runner out. Three years isn’t a lot of time for an engine to become permanently stuck, so I’m guessing some Marvel Mystery Oil and other basic R&R would get it to fire once more.

The interior is a real high point, and I’m guessing the area of the car that will push potential buyers to bid. The outside can be gussied up, but the cabin is where you learn just how loved a particular vehicle was. Fortunately for the Beetle, someone was fond of it, as the interior is far too nice for the last three years of neglect to be indicative of how the car was cared for. The door panels, seats, and dash are all in sparkling condition, and the carpets don’t look too bad, either. The dash appears to retain what looks like a period-correct radio, and the simplistic ivory switchgear of the Beetle all appears to remain in place as the factory intended. The seller mentions it will need a new headliner and that the sunroof mechanisms have been removed, but all hardware was retained.

Hard to see exactly where the floors have gone soft, but the seller is up front that the pans will need attention. This is pretty typical of most Beetles, especially if this one has lived in Ohio all of its life – but again, it’s a bit of a bummer as the rest of the car appears to be so well preserved. The seller lists the mileage as being 35,000, and while the interior lives up to that, the rest of the car presents as being slightly more well used – a papertrail would be helpful for determining just how well used it is, but the seller doesn’t mention whether the title is included. Still, at no reserve, this early Beetle looks like a potential bargain, especially if you can get it running once more without too much heavy lifting.

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  1. Steve Clinton

    No extra charge for the cobwebs.

    Like 2
  2. Marc

    You can see the front drivers and passenger pans have disintegrated if you zoom in. Hard to say what’s under the paint.

    Like 1
  3. Ralph

    A near perfect Herbie clone.

    Like 1
  4. Ed Hardt

    I’ve watched enough Mustie1 to want this car.

    Like 6
  5. Oldog4tz Oldog4tz

    “Hard to see where the floors have gone soft” – trust me, it’s not just the floorpans. The issue is a single word – SALT – NE Ohio uses over 20 tons per Mile each winter.

    Like 2
    • Erik

      And bet you the front axle bam has rot near the weep holes that rotted out but luckily the front axle beam can be swapped out fr a replacement but adds time and cost on top of everything else this car needs.

      Bigger problems with it would be if the front “frame head” is rotted out. If so then you are looking for a donor and doing a lot of cutting and welding.

      Some may not know that basically the air-cooled VW’s had a “pan” that the body sat on. This pan was basically a “spine” in middle (like a transmission tunnel) that the front axle beam bolted to at front and then the transmission and engine “hung off of”/bolted to on the back and then there were floorboards (reinforced along the outer edges inside rockers) that were welded to either side of that center “spine”. A Beetle, Karmann Ghia, and Thing all had bodies that then bolted onto individual variants of pans. Busses were body permanently welded to pan.

      In short, pans on Beetles can have new floor sheet metal welded in which is typically done when only replacing the area under battery under rear seat which tended to rot out due to battery acid or if the floor under feet in front is roached. But if the reinforced edges under the rockers are shot or if the areas around the front seat brackets are shot then the body should come off pan and it be done right although there are some brave enough to do complete replacements of each side of the pan (that attach to the “spine” while leaving the body sitting on the rest of the pan. Either way this all adds to cost and time.

      This Beetle is salvageable and can be saved but it will add up in time and cost. And I would not be surprised if that is what seller discovered. However I am surprised that the current bid has gotten so high. Yes it is a pre-67 Beetle and yes it has the body features (such as “pope’s nose” license plate light) and aspects that made Herbie famous. But there are better examples out there for around this same current price and fully restored examples for not much more. Somebody may be underwater in the end but hopefully this one will be restored because although they made a ton of these and many survived, there are still only so many 1961 Beetles out there.

      Like 2
      • Tom D

        For the same reasons I’d wonder about the condition of the heater boxes (aka j boxes), levers and cable. Not checking these can mean heat all the time or none at all.

        Like 1
  6. 370zpp 370zppMember

    My very first car – a 61 Bug. Simplicity. Function. Full tank of gas – 3 bucks.

    Like 6
  7. Alan Guimaraes

    In 1961 VW made interior accent colors available. If your car came in certain colors then you could get special interior trim. This is one of those cars. The steering wheel, shifter, hand brake, seat frames and dash handle were done in Stone Grey. The door panels are also special and should definitely be saved, their colors are unique. The seats have junk aftermarket covers, carpet is replacement too. Engine looks like it’s not original as a 61 used the stale air 40hp – no fresh air hoses on the fan shroud and big cap distributor. So this is a special car, hopefully it wont end up as another lame Herbie clone.

    Like 6
  8. Luki

    Original sunroof would have been a factory installed Golde not Webasto.

    Like 2
  9. KarlS

    Anybody know what model years had the Woifsburg crest on the nose? I believe they stopped putting them on because they got stolen a lot but I don’t know for sure.

    Like 1
  10. Bruce Morris

    Had one of these Bought it in VA in 1984 for $25. Prices have changed

    What certainly needs to be done is to pull up the carpet and see what is underneath. Not a very good heater system and the heater adjustments as well as the rusting in the channels need to be looked at because that is no easy repair. Where the rust is underneath the car would worry me.

    Lastly if the engine is year specific (and I don’t know enough to tell) it would still be a 6 volt system. Not very bright lights for mine and tough on fuses. I can’t tell from the pictures. And I had the ragtop. But I will admit, the air just whipped through that puppy in the winter. Gloves were a necessity.

    But I sound like a negative soul on this so consider these only questions, not reasons not to look at it. Just confirm where the rusts stops. That is my main comment.

    Like 0
  11. RexFoxMember

    Did VWs leave the factory with carpet? I had a few early VWs and they all had fitted rubber mats instead of carpet.

    Like 1
    • Alan Guimaraes

      There was carpet along the inner rockers, inner front and rear wheel wells, on the bulk head under the dash and behind the rear seat. The main floors would have had rubber mats front and rear.

      Like 2
      • RexFoxMember

        Thank you. It has been a long time, but I would like to get another air cooled VW someday.

        Like 1
  12. Bruce Morris

    I have a 68 vw working on right now that is exactly as it came from the factory interior wise (father in law bought it…family drove around Germany and then they had it sent back to VA). I am fixing it up for them. The car came with rubber mats on top of the floor pan…..and then carpeting on top of the rubber mats. I just took the carpeting and the mats out last week.

    Like 0
  13. suprarossa

    My very first car also – a 1963 I got at age 15. Had the full length sliding sunroof and blue exterior. I had no clue what the red little dot light meant on the speedometer cluster, but I found out not too long after it came on hahaha. I remember stuffing 12 classmates in that thing one night at a party which resulted in fully compressed suspension and 4 flat tires. /—\ Good memories from 45 years ago

    Like 0

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