Weekend Project? 1970 Volkswagen Beetle

When it comes to weekend projects, everyone has a different opinion as to what’s possible. The seller of this 1970 Volkswagen Beetle convertible, equipped with the rare Autostick transmission, believes the flaws are minimal enough that you can press the reset button on this Bug over the course of a weekend. Can you install a new pan between Friday night and Sunday? Perform a manual transmission conversion? Get the engine running? Swap out the waterlogged front bow for the convertible top? Well, then – your ship has come in. Check out this Beetle listed here on eBay for $3,100 or best offer.

To be fair towards the seller, he’s correct that this is a surprisingly honest and straight Beetle. The body panels are original, the steering is tight, and the interior looks downright nice. Nothing is perfect, but convertibles in particular usually have completely roached cabins that even a homeless person would find off-putting. Not so here, with what looks like just a few tears at the seams and carpet that isn’t acting as a gigantic sponge.

The engine is said to turn freely and “…looks ready to run.” I don’t know about you, but if i judged all of my projects on how much it looked like it was ready to run, I’d own many, many more projects. Actually running is a different story, although a Beetle is one of the simpler vehicles you can bring back to life after a long slumber. It does come with a new carburetor; the bigger concern is that blasted Autostick, which has a few lines missing and needs a full servicing.

Personally, I fail to see the point of buying an Autostick-equipped Beetle in the first place, given the prevalence of stick-shift models available at any given time. I happen to like this 1974 hardtop Bug found in the large Georgia collection we’ve listed here as a Barn Finds Exclusive; it’s a complete car with a decent interior and manual gearbox. No matter what, Beetles will always hold appeal as an affordable classic with a huge enthusiast network behind it – which could come in handy if your restorations need to be done before the weekend is over.


  1. Buffalo Bob

    Personally, I’ve had an AutoStick (in a Ghia), and you couldn’t pay me enough to have another. It was pretty good out of the hole, but your parking brake had better work, or else you could find your car has rolled away. That & you can’t really palm the stick without disengaging. Shame it’s not a 4-speed, otherwise it could be a great li’l project.

    Like 5
  2. Jim Lee

    I’ve owned a lot of VWs in my time. All stick shift except for my wife’s low mileage 1969 autoshift. She liked it. My Dad had a citroen with an electric clutch, when you touched the gear shift the clutch disengaged. Or maybe it was the Hillman Minx he owned.

    Like 1
    • Solosolo UK ken tilly Member

      “Jim Lee. I’m sure it was a Citroen as it was fitted to French Peugeot cars as well. My friend had one which I drove and I found it to be a brilliant idea, as long as you remembered not to sit at the traffic light with your hand on the gear lever while waiting for the light to go green! I have owned several Hillman Minx cars but have never heard of one of them having an electric clutch.

  3. Cncbny

    Enough with the, “ a stick is always better” crowd. When you sit in two hours of traffic to go 20 miles just to get home, a stick is a curse! No one is going to be doing 50bhp hole shots in this. It’s a nice sun cruiser. The auto stick will save you from meniscus surgery on your left knee. Fix the floors, and enjoy!

    Like 7
    • Doug B

      lol. guessin’ ur from LA. Who’s gonna use this as a commuter my friend? These are weekend warrior rides and to get any buzz at all a stick is a necessity.

      Like 3
  4. art

    Apparently a few folks have never owned an AutoStick. If they had, they would tell you hands down, run away from it. And in doing so, you’d outrun the AutoStick VW.
    You have to pull over on the slightest grade and no matter what you do, slower and slower you will go. Knowing this, I used to give my 71 Super Beetle the fastest running start that I could and then head up the hill, knowing about half way up that I’d have to pull to the right and engage the hazard lights. It was unpopular for a reason. Think about it.

    Like 5
    • Ian C

      I agree completely. In the early 90’s I used to buy really nice a/s VW’s dirt cheap and do a 4spd swap, drive it for a while, and sell it for a decent profit. There is actually a few a/s transaxles literally buried on my old man’s property! lol

      Like 2
  5. Matthew Wright

    I dated a girl who drove a Karmann Ghia with autostick back in the 1980s. I don’t remember it being as much of a dog as some here say, but I was 17 and was happy to be going anywhere, especially with a girl. I’ll never forget the hilarious duck-like quaaack sound it made when you shifted gears, or “changed driving modes” as VW called it.

    Like 1
  6. Eric B.

    The auto stick is not “rare”. Just uncommon because nobody liked it. It will never be a sought-after option on air cooled VWs. I had a Beetle with one in it. Drove it for part of a day. Put a standard transmission in the next day.

    Like 2
  7. Bob McK Member

    I remember when these were new and everyone hated the auto stick. Is it a hard job to switch it out to a manual transmission and clutch?

  8. Louis Q Chen

    As a VW person and had owned and rebuilt many, I didn’t have any problems with the auto-stick shift! The auto-shift is a 3 spd. tranny minus the clutch. I find that the comment about going uphill, there’s the low gear (1st.) which does fine from my experience. As for the rolling down hill on it’s own are basically careless owners’ fault. It was a fairly reliable trans. The only tricky part is the adjusting of the solenoid for the trans and the vacuum booster. Rebuilding the trans is straight forward. To me this auto-stick trans is misunderstood and the modern term for it is the paddle shifter trend in new cars! If I had the space in my yard, I’d probably go for this one!

    Like 2

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