No Rot Oval Window: 1954 Volkswagen Beetle

You can buy a Volkswagen Beetle in pretty much any form you like, but if you want to own a car that will continue to appreciate at a good clip, the earlier models are the way to go. Incredibly, this rare 1954 Beetle retains many original details, including its floor pans and the semaphore turn signals. It has had one repaint but that’s to be expected for a car this age. Really, the rust-free floors and high degree of originality otherwise is what makes this one a standout. The Beetle is listed here on eBay with a clean Tennessee title, with bids to $8,800 and a Buy-It-Now of $15,800.

You have to love the details that set the early Beetles apart. The oval rear window; the jewel-like taillights; the simple chrome bumpers. And check out that very original Tennesee license plate, which reinforces just how long this Beetle has been a resident of the Volunteer State. The tag, however, is not included. The seller notes it has the incorrect rear apron, a later fuel tank, and a brake setup from a 1958-1964-era Bug. The rear apron could be tough to track down, but the seller notes he has the correct brake components from a ’56 model if you want to make it slightly more correct.

The interior is in good shape for an unrestored car and is certainly tidy enough that you can live with it while other improvements are made (I’d leave it alone, personally). The door panels also look clean and the dash appears to be laser-straight. There’s even a very old-school Blaupunkt radio in the dash that has to be the factory piece. It’s rare to find a Beetle as old as this one, and rarer still to find one with so many details still intact. It seems likely given the condition of the floors and the interior that this ’54 didn’t spend much time in the weather, and was likely garaged for many years.

The engine bay is well-worn but seemingly complete. The seller claims it “…runs, drives, and stops” and that he mostly uses it “…tool around town.” That’s good for knowing it will drive onto a trailer, but less informative when deducting whether it has good oil pressure and/or compression. The best thing to do is take the seller up on his offer to call him for more information, but let’s be honest: if the engine is toast, an air-cooled Beetle is one of the easiest cars to get back on the road. Now, if the engine is numbers-matching, that’s a different story as you absolutely need to rebuild it. A cool find and sure to be well-received at the summertime air-cooled shows.


  1. GuernseyPagoda

    This has been posted online(and on here) before. I love it, even with slight modifications. My point is: it has been for sale for a while. Better deal for potential buyer. Good luck.

    Like 1
  2. Ken Westcott

    Be still my heart. That’s the first beatle we owned in 1959. Dad paid $1900 for it. It was OD green. 36 hp. Eventually it was traded for a 59 red one. Fantastic little cars.

    Like 1
  3. Ricardo Ventura

    In my opinion the oval rear window is the most harmonious for beetles.

    Like 3
  4. gaspumpchas

    Definitely not the original mill. This would be a 40 hp or bigger; 36 hp had the fuel pump on the drivers side of the engine. Sure is sweet. Good luck and happy motoring

    Like 2
    • Borris Khalandovsky

      AND no heater tubes in the engine compartment, NO heat exchangers, hot air heat directly from the engine…

  5. Tim Yates

    Definitely not the original 36 HP, it looks like a 53 by the size of the intake. It been converted to 12 volt, it has the bigger generator.

    Like 1
  6. MGSteve

    I have two Ovals. These are great cars, easy to work on. As for the brakes, changing them over to a later year is a good thing. Stopping is nice, and a needed improvement from stock. The engine . . . this may surprise many people, but the 36hp (worse yet, the earlier ones) engine is very hard to find critical parts for . . . such as bearings. I think people say “They built 22 milion of ’em, parts should be plentiful”. Not true with the older ones, such as the Ovals–and this is an early Oval. Transaxle parts are also getting scarce. This is an earlier Oval. Highly desirable car.

    Like 2

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