Rough Oval: 1958 VW Beetle


While there are some projects that simply look like too much work to take on, it’s still hard to not let your imagination run wild when a dusty barn find shows up on your computer monitor. This early VW Beetle here on craigslist sports the desirable oval rear window but will need full restoration – and an engine – before returning to the road. 


Whooo! This Beetle is going to need a lot of work. The motor’s gone and I’m guessing the same for the transmission. The seller does mention that the engine cover is included, but no word on whether the lid itself is salvageable. The most desirable Beetle wears a split rear window, but the oval window is worth saving too, which is likely why this one was dragged out of the barn.


The interior reveals one of the best color combinations out there: black on red! Unfortunately, the exterior looks to have been poorly repainted at some point, so bringing it back to OEM condition will definitely require some investment in bodywork. Although it’s hard to tell for sure, the interior doesn’t look like a lost cause. Wipe down the seats and see if they come back to life.


This Beetle is likely in need of new fenders, a new pan, and quite possibly new sills and running boards, based on the photos. All chrome pieces will need refinishing, and of course, a drivetrain will need to be sourced. But oval windows are getting harder to find, and this one also wears the desirable bullet turn signals. Overall, I think it’s worth restoring – do you?


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  1. Ron H

    I had the impression 58 was the first year for the big back glass. This may be older than 58. Waiting to hit that lottery so i can afford the stuff i want… like an oval bug.

    • CaCarDude

      Correct you are Ron, the small oval ran from 1955 to 1957, prior to that was the split or two piece small oval. Not sure the exact years am thinking 1949 to ’54
      Had my share of these old bugs back in the 60’s and 70’s, put probably close to a million miles on a few. Fun cars and easy to maintain. Totaled a ’57 bug back in H.S. senior year,(’66) hit head on by a jeep at 45mph on city street, flipped the jeep over and left me with a broken knee cap, among other injuries. Amazing I still like the cars as much as I do. This bug shown is going to be a major project, hope it gets saved and not parted out.

    • Brian

      58 was the first year for the big back glass. 57 was the final year for the oval.

      Like 1
  2. KO

    Definitely US spec ’57 features. Don’t really know for sure without the VIN, but it’s likely a late year, not sold for a bit and titled as a ’58. somewhat common.

  3. Moe G

    Two things I know for sure , 1 my 58 had the same back glass as my 59, 2 this guy would sell it quickly on the samba for that price and as a true barn find.

  4. Joe T

    Split window until March 1953. Oval window from March 1953 until end of 57 model year. This car does not have the semaphore (trafficator) signals so it appears to be a US market 56 or 57 model.

  5. Brian T Kearns

    I think she’s worth the restoration get a good team together and you can do any thing and knowing some places to get good but inexpensive parts and your set to go and I do have a good friend who has a friend that restores these that I could go to for help on the restoration

  6. Luki

    Batwing Steering Wheel, grooved door and window handles, bump inside doors equals 55 or earlier. If front fenders are original it’s a U.S. Spec 1955 model.
    Since it has wheels it has a trans.

  7. Andrew marshall

    Don’t forget you can chop the top install on better car

  8. Howard A Member

    I always enjoy the “guess the VW year ” game. I think it’s a ’56 or ’57. Bumper over riders were added in ’56 ( front missing here) and the turn signals were moved to the top of the fenders in ’58. Bugs, in nice condition, aren’t exactly rare. If you must have a ’56 or 7 for some sentimental reason, I suppose, but there’s better bugs out there, than to pour thousands into this. Here’s a great site that shows the changes through the years. Unless this was free, I’d pass.

  9. Rick

    Huh, not too far from me. But way out of my restoration league. To do it right, you’re looking at at least 30 large….

    • John P

      I don’t mean to be direct at you about this comment–but where does such a number come from with regard to your estimation of repair costs?

      • Rick

        Hi John,
        From a buddy that just had a ’60 fully restored from a top VW restoration shop. All they did was the bodywork, chassis and paint… and it was well into the mid 20’s mark. Add in parts that just aren’t available even aftermarket for pre-60’s Beetles, and you’ll be hand-making a lot of pieces….

    • Brian T Kearns

      You can keep costs down on restoring the car and doing a lot of the work your self such as I would do if I were to buy this car

      • Dave Wright

        That’s what it is about………

  10. Bob Hess

    These cars had major steel in the fenders and body. This car’s fenders are repairable and should be saved. Last restoration on a Beetle was a ’59 with extensive hail damage. Only metal we ever straightened out tougher than that was the several 356 Porsches we did.

  11. SouthSide5459

    The car is a 56. The front heater outlet is in the 56 location, in 57 it was moved back and the vent was louvred .

    • Luki

      You are wrong. Not a 56. Look at the bumps on the inside of the doors. 55 down.

  12. Rex Kahrs Member

    Hmmm…if you replace the fenders, pan, sills, engine and whatever else, this thing turns into George Washington’s hatchet.

  13. CaCarDude

    Wondering, did anyone else notice the very rare original hood emblem “crest” at the base of the center hood trim? That is about the best part of this car IMO, these are very hard to find,..and an original still attached to the car is hard to believe. I saved a couple of these from old Bugs I found at the auto wreckers way back when.
    This also appears to have the original in dash Blaupunkt PB radio, another rare find.

  14. Chuck Foster Chuck Foster

    The ad was changed to 1955, I’m kicking myself for not calling on a running, complete 1957 Oval on Clist a couple days ago for $1500. It was a few hours after posted, so probably gone by then, and I have too many cars, but would have been a great flipper.

  15. steveland

    I love how many guys are on here looking that refer to having “too many cars”, but are still looking…..we just can’t help it ! …….

  16. Mike

    Had a 59′ w/sunroof in high school 68-69. Top speed when alone in the car was 72mph. Two best memories were the reserve fuel lever which I seemed to live on and the brick I kept on the floor that I used as “cruise contro” on the turnpike. Wish I had it now.

  17. OhU8one2

    Shouldn’t this car have the “W” deck lid? I would source a 356 motor and make it look as stock as possible. Actually I wonder if a four-cam Carrera motor would fit? Now that would be awesome.


    I am surprised that no one mentioned that the ad states”Ran when parked” followed by “No engine”. You just gotta love a good CL ad.

  19. JACKinNWPA Jack NW PA Member

    I know alot of people will hate what I’d do to it but a later IRS pan with a 12V 1600 Dual port would make a great and inexpensive base for this cool old oval. I have a 1966 Baja Beetle that I bought rolled and installed a swapmeet 1957 oval sunroof top, 10 point cage and also 12V conversion with a 1600 DP. lots of fun.

    • JACKinNWPA Jack NW PA Member

      And if you don’t like my Baja Beetle you really won’t like my customized Karmann Ghia.

    • Dave Wright

      We used to do that exact thing a lot…..the small window VW’s always had value but the improvement of a newer chassis and running gear was so big it made total sense. We usually changed the wiring harness at the same time. In today’s world of orignal show vehicles, things have changed. Most have never driven an orignal 25 HP VW………….

  20. Edward

    I had a ’54 with the same color scheme. Stale air 36hp engine with the split case tranny. (No synchro into low). If the pan is gone and the doors and wheel skirts sport extensive rust through, this is a body off restoration. Parts to fit,if found, will keep you employed indefinitely. A labor of love.

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