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Split Window Museum Find: 1952 Volkswagen Beetle

One of my favorite types of “finds” is a car that was released from museum captivity. There’s something about finding a special car that has been kept off the roads but also somewhat preserved for all that time. It’s like a barn find that hasn’t been completely neglected for decades. This 1952 Volkswagen Beetle is a very early model we don’t often see stateside, and it’s listed here on eBay after being exhumed from a museum in Puerto Rico.

Now, some museums are woefully underfunded, and as such, you’re still buying a project car, even if it’s been stored indoors for the last 20 years. This Beetle rides on what I’m sure are very old tires mounted on non-OEM rims, and you can see a paint mismatch between the doors and the rear quarter panel. But when it comes to early Beetles with the desirable split rear window, beggars can’t be choosers.

These early Bugs were extremely spartan affairs inside, with a solitary gauge in the center of the dash, no radio, a neat gearshift and other ivory knobs, and not much else. The seller doesn’t appear to know much about the car other than noting it now resides in a museum in Orlando, Florida, and that the engine isn’t original to the car. However, the engine does start, and if those stickers inside the door jamb are old oil change receipts, it may indicate the Beetle was looked after before being sold to the museum in Puerto Rico.

Those two little windows mean everything when it comes to air-cooled collectors, and even with some staining on the headliner, there’s very little to discourage someone who’s been hunting for an early production version. I’m sure this Beetle has secrets and that you won’t know much about its past sins until you own the car and begin the tear-down process; with a Buy-It-Now of $35,000 and the option to submit a best offer, it’s certainly a calculated risk in terms of how far you want to be into a project before it even really begins.


  1. Chinga-Trailer

    A suggestion – your lead photo should have emphasized the split window.

    Like 12
  2. Bullethead

    All of the cars from that Puerto Rican VW museum were offered in one big ad on the Samba a couple of years ago… some really good buys below the current pricing. I’m sure this Orlando seller got the car substantially cheaper.

    Like 5
  3. geezerglide 85

    This is repeat, Russ Dixon wrote this up in July. I just got done reading all of the comments on it from before. Barnfind readers are a wealth of information. I’m guessing it didn’t sell last time and is up for sale again. As kids in the early ’60’s my brother and I were always on the lookout for early VW’s when traveling, even then we didn’t see very many ovals, and maybe only one or two splits. Rare car for sure.

    Like 7
  4. MGSteve

    I think I pointed this out on the first go-round. This car is actually a bit more valuable than most other 52 Split windows. This car is a “Zwitter”. If you look at the dash, it is an “oval” dash . . . as used in 53 – 57. There was some plan to use up existing parts in this transition period.

    Like 3
    • OldDub

      MGSteve is spot on about Zwitters, and I’m not accusing the museum of anything nefarious but it’s important to be cognizant of the 1950s practice of cutting out split windows to “upgrade” a car to an oval window (to improve the rear view and impress others with what looked like a newer car). Several decades later, switching back to a split window was appropriate, given the market value, especially if there was original documentation to establish provenance. Unfortunately to this day, con artists take an ordinary oval car and turn it into a Zwitter hoping to cash in. It’s always a good idea to check both sides of the roof to avoid being taken to the cleaners.

      Like 7
    • Eric Borst

      You are exactly correct.

      Like 0
  5. James A Patten

    I want a zwitter

    Like 1

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