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Sunburnt Bug: 1957 VW Beetle

Some of the rarest Beetles which command the highest prices are early oval window versions. Given that these were only built from the years 1953 to 1957, it’s getting harder to find project versions of these as most have been found and restored, ready to go into collections or sold to other collectors. So our very patinated Beetle here has all the classic looks of the original oval window Beetle, but with a beautiful sunburnt body and an original (but not numbers matching) engine. So if this is up your street, it’s available here on Craiglist for $8,000 in Gold Country, California. Thanks again to T.J. for this tip!

Following on from the early days of the Beetle, which has the oval split window, the oval window version was an evolution away from the classic KdF Wagen designed before WWII. During the time of the oval window Beetle’s being produced, the VW clocked up an impressive 1 million built and sold by 1955, yet very few still remain because of the ravages of time and the fact these were quite rust prone, even in warm, dry states like California. Although the exterior of the one we see here today looks in ok condition, the underside of the car is another matter. And this is why we find out relatively cheap Beetle needs rather a lot of work, but luckily you can buy brand new floor pans for these still. Our rust issue however doesn’t just affect the floor, the bottom of the doors need repair work too.

The seller states that this is not a matching numbers car but it has an original 1957 Beetle engine with just a few hundred miles on it. There’s no way to verify this, but VW bug experts may be able to chime in on the veracity of this claim. The seller does state that the engine does need a rebuild, however.

Again, the interior will need a lot of love and attention, having been baked to a crisp in the sun. The car does come with some history and there is a photograph of a Veteran standing next to the car on the day of purchase in 1957. So this early VW Beetle needs a full-on restoration, but what would you do with the body – start again with a clean coat of paint or give it the ‘oily rag’ treatment and leave it as is?


  1. alphasud Member

    I like the original color as seen from the interior photo. Looks like petrol blue. Hopefully the buyer is willing to negotiate on price. Unless you are going to do all the restoration work yourself for zero pay it would be cheaper to buy one in nice shape in the long run. I certainly don’t care for the patina look so I would have to paint this one.

    Like 10
  2. Jason

    The seller means 8,000 pesos, not dollars…

    Like 1
  3. Karl

    With just a couple hundred miles on the engine why does it need a rebuild?

    • MGSteve

      Maybe ‘cuz everybody thinks they can rebuild one of these “simple” engines???

      Like 1
    • Miguel - Mexican Spec

      If an engine sits for a long time things rust.

  4. Kurt Member

    Hard to tell if needs new heater channels or not. Body rust looks fixable. Would you use lead for that “authentic” resto?

  5. Rod

    For that price in that state, I would want a split-screen.

  6. Miguel - Mexican Spec

    The price for this car is jaw dropping. What is it worth all done?

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