Oval Opportunity: 1955 Volkswagen Beetle

1955 VW Beetle

Finding a Type 1 Beetle in restorable condition makes your average VW barn find a touch more exciting. This 1955 oval window Beetle here on craigslist is rusty but not necessarily cheap: $6,500, but with room for negotiation if you show up in person. This could be a rare case of finding some financial upside on an old air-cooled project. 

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The interior looks pretty great for a car clearly stuck in project status. It appears original, or at least well-aged, and free from rips or tears. You will need to source some carpet and a new headliner if you want to bring the insides back to OEM condition. The dash appears uncut but I can’t tell for sure if a modern radio has been fitted. The original steering wheel looks right at home and straight out of Wolfsburg.

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Although the seller says the car us unmolested, you can’t interpret that as numbers matching. The engine is out of a later model and leaks oil badly. The transmission is also from a 1962 model and the car needs new brakes fitted. Thankfully, mechanical refurbishment is one of the easier aspects of air-cooled ownership, at least from a parts-sourcing standpoint.

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Clearly, the fenders aren’t original as I doubt someone repainted them and left the rest of the car alone; but then again, when vehicles get to be this age, people will do anything to keep them on the road. If the originals were rusty or damaged, swapping fenders is a pretty painless process on a Bug. I love the older Beetles with the oval windows, and although this one doesn’t have semaphores, I still find it to be a worthwhile project – especially if you’re able to negotiate downwards at an in-person inspection.

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Comments

  1. randy

    With the current “Beetle mania” going on, I bet he gets his money fairly quickly.

    It always “bugs” me when a buyer tries to beat me up on the price w/o seeing the item I am selling.

    Like 1
    • Davnkatz

      Some people must have more dollars than they do sense. I recently almost bought a 1955 Beetle that looked almost showroom fresh. A real close exam revealed a small amount of rust on the bumper and several places with chipped paint. Someone else got it for $4500. He is now driving it all over and having fun! I’ve seen VWs in better shape than this one at 1/5th or less of the price listed here. All of that severe rust and body damage on this one? Think at least another $7-$10 K for an off -frame resto. NO THANX

  2. jim s

    might need a new pan. still an interesting project. nice find.

  3. Howard A Member

    For a VW fanatic, this is as good as it gets. I don’t know the value of these today, but there can’t be too many left like this. Years ago, there were so many VW’s around, you’d scrap the old one and have another one then next day. I think the fenders are original,( period correct front turn signals) and someone just rattle canned them. In picture 6, straight up from the tunnel on the firewall is the lever for the gas reserve. When you ran out, it took some fancy footwork to keep it going. I’d leave it as is. Very cool find. BTW, the oil leak is most likely the pushrod tubes. Kind of a big job. Very common with these.

  4. Chris A.

    If anyone reading this post actually buys this, I have an actual VW factory shop manual that you may need to do the necessary repairs. Actually I think this one may be a transition 55/56 car. It has the oval window, but lacks the flipper turn indicators. I thought the flippers were last used in ’55 and VW changed over to regular turn indicators/stop lights in 1956. Howard is spot on regarding the leak sources. Lots of “O” rings to seal up one of these. For an economy car the build quality and paint was very high, but to get at some of the areas, having the right tools made a difference. Back then VW didn’t want customers working on their own cars, so they wouldn’t sell tools or manuals. Oil changes and cleaning out the filter screen was a pain.

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