Sunroof Bug: 1968 VW Beetle

This 1968 Volkswagen Beetle was found at an estate sale in “barn find” condition, and it’s rare among air-cooled models equipped with a factory steel sunroof. Like all projects, it’s a long ways off from running, but the honesty of the presentation indicates you’re not starting with a train wreck but just a typical needy project car. The seller notes it has its original engine and that he hit the body with steel wool and it cleaned up decently enough. Find it here on craigslist for $2,950 in Fresno, California.

The factory sunroof is an interesting thing. It’s a big deal among collectors of certain vehicles, owing to its relative rarity among cars of a certain age. While we may consider the sunroof to practically be a standard feature along with subwoofers and heated seats, there was a day and age where ponying up to a sunroof was a big deal. When you consider that context with an economy car like the Beetle, you can appreciate why finding a car with a sunroof installed by the factory is a big deal.

The seller notes that the original dash pad was cracked beyond repair, so it now resembles a ’67 dash. In addition to the engine, the transmission is believed to be original to the car as well. While the engine turns freely, he’s not been able to get it to start and he suspects there’s a wiring issue somewhere that’s preventing it from charging properly (he says “juice” which I interpret to mean power). The bucket seats are in decent shape but the door panels are rough, and the carpets are described as so-so. The floor behind the driver’s seat needs to be replaced; the passenger rear floor has already been fixed.

The backseat doesn’t look bad, either. The seller notes it also needs a new headliner and rubber molding around the windows, but that’s pretty typical for any project car this age. The Beetle appears to still wear old-school California black plates, so it seems likely it’s been a West Coast resident for some time. Old Beetles are easy to love and cheap to bring back to running condition, especially when you’re not fighting copious amounts of rust. I’d leave the paint as is, forgo the bumpers, and just drop the suspension on some period-correct wheels. How would you restore it?

Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    Parts availability remains strong for these which makes it a good first time project for a person who wants to learn how to work and recondition a old car. Like Jeff said rust is the hardest thing to deal with and fortunately floor stampings make the job much easier given a clear weekend and a mig welder. The first thing I look at is the frame heads on these. If there is rust in that area I move on unless I have another pan to swap. Then I look at the heater channels. There are still enough in circulation to still be picky on your first project. The sunroof is nice and not real common but usually they are broken and add to the expense to make it right. Plus it is another reason the pans rusted in the first place.

    Like 1
  2. Big C

    Ah, the sunroof. Order that floorboard, ASAP.

  3. MTBorst

    Beetles always been an easy fix. If this is a true California car why the rust through ? Besides battery acid where the battery sits there shouldn’t be any. What happened to the days of “Bug In ” car shows ? If it wasn’t so far away from me I’d be swooping it up, nice little project car. I’d probably be making some kind of street machine out of it. Concierge a small block v8 kit in the back seat

    • dan joyce

      The bug-in is Oct 30 2022 Irwindale speedway. 7-3pm

      Like 1
  4. Dwcisme

    Picture shows the sunroof slightly askew. If that’s the best position it can get into, it explains the floor rust. However, the sill on the drivers door looks like the metal termites have gotten to it. Rust may be a bigger problem. Just because it’s a California car doesn’t mean it’s necessarily been in the warmer climes. There be mountains and such too. Obviously a re-paint (That’s what I inspire in you? Burgundy?) and I’d much rather have the orange. It looks like the rear windows are pop outs. Never saw a factory pop out. Aftermarket conversion? I believe there’s a lot more work here than is obvious at first glance. But, the rarity might be worth it for the right price.

  5. steve

    Pop out windows were an option. The rust is a concern and headliner? I’ve done those and it is like trying to wall paper the inside of a basketball…Add a sunroof opening???? Arrrgh…

    Like 1
  6. djkenny

    That’s a lot of money consider It’s condition. Theres a 69 sunroof one in waaaay nicer shape near me for $500 Less.

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