Repaint It Red: 1959 VW Beetle

This cheerful 1959 VW Beetle is a desirable early model, which appears largely complete despite a repaint in yellow. This car is listed in Texas, and it appears the dry climate has done it plenty of favors with the seller confirming there is no rust in the pan, nor is there any rust in the heater channels. You can find this classic Bug here on craigslist in Austin where it’s listed for $5,500.

I can’t tell if that’s an old Boston University sticker in the back window, but it’s pretty clear this Bug hasn’t been in the northeast recently. I love the detail on the engine cover on these early cars, along with the small, “bullet-style” taillights and of course, the lovely chrome bumpers. This Beetle is parked in front of a VW-based dune buggy kit car and has some other interesting company in the garage.

The door jambs and various places under the hood and trunk lid reveal red paint, which would make sense for this interior color scheme. When a car isn’t rusty and has been repainted, it bothers me far less than a car that’s a bucket and has been poorly painted in an attempt to cover it up. This Beetle appears honest enough, but the early cars are worth restoring and I’d want to return this one to red.

Not much detail on the mechanicals other than it runs and drives and the car has recently received new brakes and tires. Of course, if it’s been used reliably for years and maintenance has been kept up with, there isn’t likely to be much to report on a simple car like this (though if that’s tape on those hoses, they should be replaced sooner than later.) Overall, this looks like a solid platform for an OEM correct restoration, but that’s just me. How would you preserve this fine ’59?

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    Weird. A yellow Beetle that was originally red with a green(ish) interior and what appears to be blue overspray on some engine parts. I would think a detailed in-person inspection would be vital before any money changed hands….

    Or am I going colorblind?

    • Davnkatz Taylor

      That emblem in the rear window Is for Baylor University located in Waco. That beetle sat on a car lot here in Belton for a L-O-N-G time. I almost bought it and looked at it several times. It had obviously been the transportation of a Baylor U student (BU colors green and gold). Fairlty free of rust buts lots of “dings” and paint chipping. I thought the $4K+ price was too steep back then so I passed.

  2. Puhnto

    I’m pretty sure they didn’t paint the interior metal parts a different color than the exterior. So I’m thinking this car was originally that color of greenish/grey and someone painted the exterior red, including the jams and lids, and then later on someone painted the exterior yellow. These were cheap basic cars that were painted one color, inside and out. VW experts?

    • Nick Cucco

      You are correct,the inside is the original color……also the engine is not original it is a newer 40 HP 1200.

      • Puhnto

        Too bad too because I believe that original color is a great one.

  3. Stacye Rose

    BU Baylor University. it’s in Waco.

  4. Burgerbrain

    BU sticker is probably Baylor

  5. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    Quick someone buy it because if not you see the fate that awaits it in several background pics.

  6. JW454

    If I’m correct, this car had no factory gas gauge. I believe it did have a reserve like a motorcycle if you ran the primary dry. I hope the more knowledgeable folks chime in on that.
    Also, how much shorter could we make that paper vent tube if we just turn the air cleaner around the other way. That one made me chuckle a bit.
    I’d like to own this one too.

    • BradL

      There was a reserve lever on the firewall just over the center hump. The lever controlled a fuel valve in the bottom on the fuel tank with a long and a short outlet. When the fuel dropped below the long outlet, the engine would start to sputter. You’d then tap the lever with your foot to open the shorter outlet, thereby giving you another 30 miles to find a gas station.

    • Howard A Member

      Hi JW454, the fuel gauge replaced the lever in 1962. I knew a guy that had a ’58, and when it coughed, you didn’t have long, and required some fancy footwork to keep momentum going. You can see the lever just ahead of the shift lever on the firewall. I agree on enjoying it as is. One of the few 50’s foreign cars ( that we saw, anyway) that could go on the highway. Just bring your mittens and hat, and ice scraper ( for the inside) this time of year. Great find.

      • Mike H. Mike H

        My first winter beater was a 1970 Beetle, and holding an ice scraper in the left hand was a requirement. The later Super’s had a fan forced defroster, but these earlier cars required movement to allow the ice-cold air to permeate the barbaric defroster box under the cowl and make with some windshield clearing action. Factor in the rotted out heater channels and my Beetle selection wasn’t the most ideal, but at 16 I had neither the budget nor the intelligence to make a wiser choice.

        That which didn’t kill me in my youth only served to make me stronger.

    • Rapid Russ

      JW454

      I ‘am not sure about the 59 ‘s , But I had a 57 small window when I lived in SoCal..super small motor, but it got 44 mpg hwy ! and yes it did have the foot operated toggle flip switch on the floor , just to the right of the gas pedal..with a reserve of about a gallon or so..Saved me but many a time too..

  7. Nick Cucco

    Yes,there is a lever on the floor for the reserve.

  8. Todd Zuercher

    I think I’d take care of the basics and just drive it! Would love to have one someday to drive. Lusted after one in high school but didn’t have the $$ for one – even the neighbor lady that desperately wanted to sell me her nice ’57 oval window for $900.

  9. Jason

    The car was originally mignonette green, a 1959 only Vw color. The interior paint is original paint, the red is not the original color because the inspection plates and VIN plate in the trunk are the same red, and those were black from the factory and the VIN plate should be bare aluminum. The car also does not have 38k original miles, and shame on the person to even try to claim that. The engine in the car is a later 40hp engine, not a 36hp like what should have, and originally came with. It’s way overpriced for the condition, that’s why it hasn’t sold yet. It’s on a Vw site I frequent, it’s had 6000 views, and has been on there since August.

  10. Woodie Man

    One owner who changed the exterior color a couple of times….. people do some weird things with their cars :)

    • Mike H. Mike H

      Back in the day Earl Scheib would do just that for only $99. Some people would change the colour of their car to suit their mood.

      • Howard A Member

        Hi Mike, $99 DOLLARS!!! That was the “premium” job. The basic schpiel was ” We’ll paint any car, $29.95″. Lincoln or VW, didn’t matter ( although, they’d have made out on this job, Lincoln, not so much) I used to work for a auto paint supplier, and delivered paint many years ago, and I delivered paint to an Earl Scheib. They actually did some nice work, but $29.95, you didn’t get much, except like you say, an obvious color change.

      • Puhnto

        Yup. I remember the same ads “Howard” remembers. Only I remember it as: “I’ll paint any car, any color, for TWENTY-nine ninety five!” (Hard to get the proper cadence in print!)

      • Mike H. Mike H

        By the time I was old enough to be paying attention (early 1980’s) I believe that the cost had risen to $99. Here in Minnesota there weren’t so may Earl Scheib franchises (why do I always want to type that as “Earl Scheiße”?), but Maaco was doing a pretty healthy business painting whole cars for approximately the same price.

      • Stu

        I can remember when Earl Scheib would spray a car for $29.95, “In by nine…out by five.” The chain stocked enamel paint in 55 gallon drums and ‘hot sprayed’ it (sometimes preheated on a hot plate) so they could eliminate the expense of thinning the paint with enamel reducer.

  11. Chimmy13

    This makes me miss my 59 which I sold about 8 years ago.. Sold mine for less and it was in waaaaaay better condition.

  12. Marlon Smith

    The decal in rear window is Baylor U

  13. sebtown

    Earl used to say “I’ll paint any car, any color $29.95 no ups and no extras” and when he said no extras he meant it. We used to prep our own cars and have Earl paint them in the 60s. If we were real careful in our prep and masking the paint jobs weren’t half bad!

    • John B

      My late brother painted and managed for Scheib in Virginia 35 years ago. Once did 23 cars in a day. If you brought something worth doing and would pay a little extra for prep…it might just turn out good! He was instrumental in persuading them to offer graduated service levels. The toxic environment ultimately killed him in 2007. What a guy…I miss him every day. RIP Frank G Bell Jr.

      • Howard A Member

        Hi John, I’ve known several body shop guys that never made it to old age.

      • John B

        He was 48, esophageal cancer killed him…most likely from isocyanates and cigarettes. But Scheib shops live on.

  14. Rustytech Member

    Will the real color please stand up!

  15. curmudgeon

    you guys forgot the rest of Earl’s pitch: …29.95, no ups no extras! ;-)

  16. RoughDiamond RoughDiamond Member

    Quick, someone buy it please! If you don’t, you see the fate that awaits it in several background pics.

  17. John P

    You crybabies in the south and southwest claim it’s overpriced.. Send it north–I’ll pay for a solid VW from the 50’s..

  18. Roberto

    Now, that beauty is in Canton, Tx.

  19. Roberto

    Now, that ’59 yellow beauty is in Canton, Tx.

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