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Patina Bug: 1966 Volkswagen Beetle

Some enthusiasts find the prospect of owning a pristine classic attractive, while others find the lure of a car dripping with character irresistible. This 1966 Volkswagen Beetle could be a hot prospect if you fall into the second category. It retains its original, aged paint but is a rock-solid vehicle that has received a boatload of recent TLC. It hasn’t generated the level of interest I would typically expect, but time remains on its auction for that situation to change. The seller has listed the Beetle here on eBay in Dunedin, Florida. Bidding sits below the reserve at $5,000, and it will be fascinating to see whether it eventually finds a new home.

If you were to compile a list of the Top Ten most influential cars in automotive history, the Volkswagen Beetle would be a strong contender for inclusion. The company employed some pretty lateral thinking in its engineering and materials but brought the Beetle to the market at a bargain-basement price. It helped to boost the post-war German economy and was the foundation from which the Volkswagen Group behemoth rose. This Beetle rolled off the line in 1966, and the seller claims it wears its original Bahama Blue paint. I typically avoid using the “p” word when describing a vehicle of this caliber, but it features that trait in abundance. There are scratches, chips, and minor panel blemishes. However, these add to the car’s character, and everything is protected by a layer of Poppy’s Clear Coat. Performing a cosmetic restoration would be straightforward, but my instinct says that most buyers would prefer to leave it as-is. They won’t face rust repairs because the seller confirms that prone areas like the pans and heater channels are rock-solid. The existing trim is in good order for its age, and the glass looks flawless. Its “slammed” stance suggests there might be more to this VW than meets the eye.

The 1966 model year brought one of the biggest changes to the Beetle’s mechanical specifications. Buyers had been limited to ordering these cars with the venerable air-cooled 1,192cc flat-four, but Volkswagen added a 1,285cc version in 1966 that lifted available power from 34hp to a “dizzying” 50hp. However, this car doesn’t feature either of those powerplants. The engine bay houses a 1,600cc unit that has undergone a total rebuild. It benefits from new crank and camshaft bearings and new rings; the cylinders were honed, and new main seals were installed, along with engine seals and gaskets. The carburetor is new, as are the pressure regulator, alternator, distributor, oil pump, and muffler. The list doesn’t end there because the front brakes were upgraded to discs, while the rears were rebuilt with a range of new parts. The Beetle sits closer to Planet Earth courtesy of a narrowed beam with drop spindles. The result of this effort and expense is that this Beetle possesses performance and handling that would have been unthinkable to its creators. It is a turnkey classic that should plaster a mile-wide smile on its new owner’s face whenever they slip behind the wheel.

This Beetle’s mechanical components weren’t the only items to receive attention because the seller lavished significant TLC on its interior. It features an almost complete retrim, with the painted surfaces, gauges, and hard trim items the only remaining original components. Three-point seatbelts improve safety while the driver grips a chunky, comfortable sports wheel. There is a more modern stereo to provide entertainment on the move, and while there are a few rough edges that would take more time than money to address, this interior has no immediate needs.

I have long harbored affectionate feelings for the Volkswagen Beetle and owned one as a daily driver many years ago. My experience wasn’t pleasant, but I can honestly attribute that to my own ignorance and youthful exuberance. A repeat performance today would yield better results because these cars are as tough as nails if treated respectfully. This 1966 Beetle isn’t perfect, but ownership should be a barrel of laughs. These were once as cheap as chips, which is why they became an iconic fixture amongst students and people on low incomes. Today, they are among the heroes of the classic scene and can command eye-watering prices. This gem hasn’t reached that point, and speculating on a sale price is challenging due to the modifications. However, monitoring this auction could be worthwhile if a Beetle has been on your Wish List. You never know, but you may have just stumbled upon the car of your dreams.


  1. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    This car is right down the road from me.

    There are just a few things that need to be done to make this a nice car:

    Raise it up to it’s original stance, because the slamming just doesn’t amount to any improvement; next, put the original steering wheel back on, obviously, because that goofy black wheel looks like shit; and finally, put the bumpers back on the car, it looks dorky without them.

    Like 33
    • HoA Howard A Member

      Hmm, site filters must be temporarily down.

      Like 12
      • Timothy Vose

        He used the s word.

        Like 1
      • Timothy Vose


        Like 0
    • Adam

      I like your list and I would add one more thing to it:
      Find an original 66 F-code 1300 motor for it too.

      Like 3
    • Mike F.

      Agree….why slam a car like this? Adds nothing, looks silly, and you run more chance of getting high centered or hitting something. Drove many different year veedubs for a long time….they handled fine. ‘Course this is just my opinion….

      Like 3
    • Ric Rascoe

      Well, you are correct if you only like stock VWs. This is a subtle attempt at achieving the Cal-Look made popular back in the 80’s or so in SoCal and as such, is a pretty cool little Dub. “The slamming doesn’t amount to any improvement….”. It does not make handling worse and looks 100% better, so no harm no foul there. Steering wheel … really? No big deal there, except the stock vw wheel is like a wagon wheel!! Anything easier to turn is welcome and it does add a sportier look. And nerf bars have been a custom look on a lot of cars since, well forever. The big ol chrome sculptures that they came stock with are fine, but a bit clunky to say the least. The car does NOT look dorky without the bumpers. It’s a matter of taste and style. If you like stock and boring, that’s cool. But you make it sound like this guy put together a clown car and should be locked up for it!! ha! To each his own, but do yourself a favor and Google Cal-Look and Cal-Style …… it’s good to learn stuff.

      Like 0
  2. Euromoto Member

    Well…De gustibus non est disputandum. I like most everything about this one. Upgraded motor, discs up front, and I dig the stance. Sorry to say, but I love the faux Momo steering wheel.

    But I feel ya’. I absolutely cringe when I see an “outlaw” 356 or some other bastardized Porsche.

    Like 10
  3. HoA Howard A Member

    One bid, I just don’t get it. Has the market tanked like naysayers like me predicted? This is a really nice Bug, and I’m sorry, the interest just isn’t there anymore. I know, I grapple with that every day here, but face it, when was the last time you actually saw a Bug on the road? Saw a couple buses, one broke down, but a Bug is such a dramatic difference from what people are used to today, well, this only tells me it’s going down. Look ma, even gots a gas gauge,,how horribly antique some must think. That’s the extent of its sophistication? Imagine, and that’s the way we liked it.

    Like 8
    • Ronss96

      I agree with not seeing many on the road these days but go to any vw event and the amount of cars is incredible. I have an early 52 split window bug. Some of the shows here in SoCal are 250 cars or more. ( one was 383!) Been a car guy since the late 70’s and vw shows always have huge turnouts. 57 and older bugs and 59 and older ghias plus split windshield busses are the ones going up in value. I’ve been offered quite a bit for mine but I’m having too much fun to sell it.

      Like 2
      • MGSteve

        Wow . . . you have a Split . . . . I’m in awe. You’re one of those special people that gets to buy the license plate frame, which says “If it ain’t split It ain’t s%#t”

        Like 0
    • Garry

      Howard, i had one similar to this.
      I wouldn’t buy one either!
      Reliability was legendary, exactly, a legend. It wouldn’t have been as reliable as my twenty years older MG Y.
      They catch fire too easily.
      But they are fun to drive on rough roads and fire trails!

      Like 0
  4. bobhess bobhess Member

    If you have never driven a Beetle with the modifications like this one you really can’t criticize it. A lot more fun to drive and the looks fit the car like a glove. I would put bumpers on it but nothing else.

    Like 12
  5. Mike

    We had a ’66 Bahama “blue” bug. It never looked blue to me. I thought it was a light mint green.

    Like 3
  6. Wade Pierce

    AMEN BOB! Seems we have some folks on here that don’t know Beetles that well?? If only they had learned to drive “STICK” in one like I did, they would appreciate that this ain’t no STANDARD Beetle? I for one, grew up in Beetles as a kid too, bc my Mom had a ’68 Beetle when my Dad, who was Navy, was stationed in Hawaii ’69-’74. I learned to drive in a ’69 Beetle in SC when I was 14. The one thing about them is their normal Higher stance makes them vulnerable in HIGH WINDS bc they are so light on their feet and can be BLOWN around! I’m sure that lowered front beam makes this one stick to the road much nicer, especially in Windy FL. I DO AGREE this yr model has nice bumpers that truly define the “Bug look” imo and would benefit from a nice set if that’s your thing, but Nerf bars were and still are another way to lighten these cars up. This is one very unassuming lil bug bc that 1600 dual-port engine will make this one SCAT! I’d certainly love to own it myself if I weren’t already elbows deep into restoring my ’73 Thing! Yes, I’m the VDub lover who has commented on the last 2 Things on here and that ’78 Safari in CO that is a Mexican Import. THIS BUG ain’t your standard lil Beetle and it would be a blast to own and drive around town. You would also PASS way more gas stations in this Classic than many of the cars we get to enjoy here on Barnfinds! GLWTS ✌

    Like 5
  7. Jack Arnest

    I’m an air-cooled juunkie from way back. When my friends were playing with ’56 Chevys and Vettes I had a ’58 Bus with 36 ponies in the back. Of all the AC (NOT air conditioned) vehicles I went through (’58 Bus, ’58 Ghia, ’64 Bug, ’65 Squareback, ’66 Bug, ’72 Bus) the ’66 Bug was the best. Here in Hawaii we get gusty tradewinds, but the bug never wandered around like that ’58 Bus. With the jugs and domed pistons out of a 1500S Squareback and the biggest jets I could put in a 34PICT carb it would fly out to the country and still got good mileage. If it were mine I would scare up bumpers with override bars, raise it back to original height and put back a stock wheel and enjoy the heck out it. The only reason I got out of air-cooled is I discovered the joys of a little sedan known as a BMW 2002 and never looked back…(unfortunately later BMWs have lost the bubble and should only be owned while still under warranty!)

    Like 3
  8. Jack Arnest

    That should be junkie. Also meant to add I would execute a fenders-off repaint in factory color. I have never seen the attraction of clearcoating rust and calling it patina. To me patina should be 56 year old paint that STILL LOOKS GOOD even with all the little dings that come with that history!

    Like 4
  9. Matthew Dyer

    Cute little bug! I learned to love them with a ’68 converted to Baja.
    Electronic ignition and front disc brakes? OMG!
    My Baja had understeer until I torqued the front torsion springs for ride height.
    My first drive surprised me. The windshield is in your face. I hit it with my finger trying to point out something to my passenger.
    No frills, but cute as can be!

    Like 2
  10. MGSteve

    My first VW was a new 65 Bahama Blue Bug. Earned the $$ working my way through school and saving for the VW. You had to wait about 10 months, at that time, after making a healthy deposit.

    Like 2
  11. ALKY

    I cant comment on a lowered beetle because I havent experienced the feeling however this looks like a great driver for sure and when I was a teen I did own a 68 beetle I bought for 600 bucks . It was burgandy in color with an all white interior and a hard-top sunroof that you cranked opened manually, a gas heater and a rebuilt 1600cc motor. I ran the livin hell out of that bug and it took everything….couldnt kill it . Eventually sold it to my friend and he turned it into a dune-buggy. Fun on steroids !
    You dont want to change this beetle just drive it and enjoy it !

    Like 1
  12. RexFox Member

    Nice write up Adam. VWs had 36 hp up until 1959 or 60 and then the 1200 went up to 40 until they came out with the 1300, which this car would have had originally. I believe the later 1600 is good for 50 and then 60 hp. Small increases in hp that made a difference you could really feel.

    Like 1
    • Jack Arnest

      The clean air 1200 had 40 HP. They bumped it to 1300 (I believe by longer stroke) for ’66 and got up to 50 HP. Then for ’67 in the US increased bore and got tp 1500 and 53 HP. The 1500S squareback with dome pistons bumped the HP up to 65, those are the jugs and pistons that ended up in my ’66 1300 engine. Not sure how much HP I had with a jetted 34PICT, but it could cruise at 80 on our “Interstate”. (Yeah- Hawaii has “Interstate” highways- H1, H2, and H3. H1- the longest, is all of 28 miles, the other 2 are shorter!) Interesting factoid- the 1300 engine remained standard for the rest of the world as long as bugs were made.

      Like 1
  13. Chris Londish Member

    People don’t think of these as a quick motor car but with the 4th gear O/D they will really pop along I’ve had one doing 85 mph got to say I was a bit surprised

    Like 1
  14. Vibhic

    This is a great example. It presents well.
    I owned a ’62 show bug featured in several magazines. Yellow with grey interior, lowered, cammed up, lightened flywheel. It hit like a Harley and flew like one. Was a blast to drive. Also had an original pokey ’62. I much preferred the show bug. Unfortunately I sold the yellow bug to a younger fellow and he promptly destroyed it the following week.

    Like 1
  15. Robert Gunn

    Well it’s over 5k and still shows reserve not met.

    Like 1
  16. Keith

    It always amazed me that VW was able to sell their air-cooled line for as long as they did. I had a ‘71 that I bought new. It was fun, and easy to work on, but it really wasn’t a very good car. I used to say that I had a 1955 car made in 1971.

    Later, I had a ‘96 Passat that I also bought new. It had the VR-6 and a five-speed. No comparison! Once I got the electronic gremlins worked out, it was a great car.

    Like 0

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