Once There Were Many: 1964 Volkswagen Beetle

Accounts of people who saw the American buffalo at its height as a species scarcely could come up with the words to describe the sheer numbers of the beasts.  Herds would be wider and longer than observers could see.  Those of us that grew up around Volkswagen Beetles can relate.  Twenty-one million Beetles were produced over 65 years of production, one of them is this So Cal survivor currently being sold on eBay in Melbourne, Florida with a $12,000 buy it now price.  Decades later, seeing a Beetle is fairly rare.  With so many built, why are there so few still around?

The Beetle was an unlikely success story.  Born during the reign of Nazi Germany and based partially on concepts pioneered by Chrysler with its Airflow and the radical prototypes that preceded it, the Beetle was basically the same concept as the Model T Ford: a people’s car.  The point was to create and produce a car that is cheap and easy to manufacture, economical to operate, and provides an average family with reliable transportation.  The car’s virtues outweighed its relatively few faults and it became a legend.

It is hard to fathom millions of people wanting such a car in today’s automotive environment.  Even the lowliest econobox produced today has air conditioning and heating that work well, a sound system that will link to our phones, and it can travel at speeds far greater than the posted limit.  Perhaps we have become too spoiled to see the benefits of such a vehicle.  Or we have allowed the world to become far too complicated.  Take your pick.

The 1964 Beetle you see here had one incredibly good thing going for it when it came to survival.  Being a Southern California car, it was immune to the ravages of road salt and the rust that comes with it.  A huge number of Beetles left the road for good thanks to the tin worm.  It would be easy to place blame on Volkswagen and the types of steel used or perhaps the finish put on that metal from the factory.  Sadly, nearly every car of this era suffered from corrosion problems that aftermarket undercoating of cars became quite a business.  Ziebart started in this era for a reason.

The seller tells us that this Bahama Blue Beetle is the most rust free and reliable Beetle he has ever owned.  The heater channels, pillar posts, spare tire well, and even the floor pans are rust free on this car.  Beetle aficionados will also be happy to know that the car was produced in early 1964, giving it the unique peanut turn signals and the “Pope’s Nose” license plate light.

Looking at the interior pictures, it is obvious that this car has been well taken care of.  The base layer of rubber floor mats and what looks to be seagrass Coco mats are tidy and look brand new.  The vinyl upholstery, while not new, shows a nice patina and little damage from the years.  A look at the dash reveals a more modern stereo system and the ubiquitous white iPhone charger that we all seem to need these days.

Under the hood is a slightly modified version of the air cooled flat four-cylinder engine that we all remember put-putting away from stoplights.  The seller has added a 12 volt alternator and has installed a heartier Ranco Performance pro-street transmission.  The car has disc brakes on each corner and a 3.88 final drive ratio to allow it to run down the road at a comfortable 70 MPH.  It also has 2″ drop spindles to give it an aggressive rake.  This seems to be a Beetle that can be used and enjoyed.

So, is it worth $12,000?  If you lived during the era when they were insanely cheap and amazingly plentiful, then that price is a bit hard to swallow.  However, life has moved on and there just don’t seem to be many of these left.  They represent a different time in America, and twelve grand is a small price to pay for a time machine.

 

 

Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    My kind of Beetle. Nice car.

    Like 4
  2. alphasud Member

    I agree with Bob that this one has received tasteful mods making this a nice cruising car. The tilt out windshield is not something you see every day and takes the breezeway concept to a new level. 6 volt systems can be cantankerous. One of the life hacks I’ve seen is fitting the car with a 8 volt battery and adjusting the voltage regulator. Wakes up the headlights and makes starter solenoid engagement more of a consistent item so the seller has made those issues a thing of the past with 12 volts.

    Like 3
  3. Terrry

    I’d rather have a completely restored stock Hitler’s Revenge. This particular car doesn’t do it for me because the body has too many modifications. And they ruined the bumpers.

    Like 2
  4. JR

    As a beetle owner I take umbrage at the notion that the heat did not work. At highway speed with good heater channels, a person will roast like a skewered tenderloin. The heat comes right off a 700deg manifold and aimed right at your ankles. Harumphh..

    Like 5
  5. Joe Haska

    When I returned from Viet Nam ,I bought a 1969 beatle. I wanted a convertible but a friend talked me out of it. I was trying to be responsible, was married just before leaving for S.E. Asia, guess I wanted my wife to think I had matured. However, we did put every extra on it, it was almost $2,200.00. We loved that little car and it got us through allot, young married no money and then a child.
    This VW is just enough of a departure from what we had, I would like to have it. It could bring back good memory’s, plus it looks way cool!

    Like 1

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