Working Bug: 1968 VW Beetle Truck

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The use of air-cooled VWs as promotional vehicles and shop haulers is hardly a new concept. But it does strike me that their presence is shrinking as a generational shift likely means the use of a familiar, smile-inducing vehicle means less and less to those who were born many years after its introduction. I hope cars like this 1968 VW Beetle here on eBay with a custom truck bed and front end never fully disappear from the roads, and this one looks like a deserving candidate for restoration. 

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This particular Bug has a fiberglass truck body on the rear and the popular 40s Ford nose kit on the front. Personally, I like the Rolls-Royce nose for more of the laugh factor, but this will do as well. The interior looks OK for the age but far from perfect; whatever the restoration entails, I hope those door panels survive. I’d swap in a more period correct head unit and also go back to a stock shifter rod and knob.  The steering wheel can stay, however.

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I did some digging but can’t find out much about this old VW tuning shop. I’m assuming they did the original fiberglass work, which the seller says is deteriorating in places. With the bed in place, I wonder how you gain access to the engine? This is a critical question, especially since the seller indicates motor mount replacement should be a priority for the next owner. The last time I saw vintage air-cooled Bugs being used as company vehicles was in the Caribbean for the Truly Nolen pest company, which used yellow Beetles dressed up like a nuisance mouse.

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From this angle, I actually like the original steel wheels and hubcaps better than the white rally-style wheels. If it were mine, I’d have some widened steelies custom made with color matched hubcaps for an OEM+ look, while cleaning up the custom body work and perhaps incorporating some sort of rear apron to finish it off (or otherwise eliminate some of the wheel gap out back). This Beetle would make an excellent shop vehicle or parts hauler and I hope it returns to those duties soon – how would you use it?

 

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Comments

  1. van

    Sweet

  2. JW

    In my area of the US you would be the only person at the car shows with one of these. Interesting find and I wouldn’t mind owning it.

  3. Howard A Member

    While I never cared for VW’s, this is a pretty cool conversion. I’d bet someone drove this around as a delivery vehicle for many years. We can’t really see the bed, but I’m sure there’s a panel that lifts up to gain access to the engine. Never liked those custom hoods either, and would replace it with a stock one. Still, one of the coolest VW’s I’ve seen in a long time. VW probably should have made something like this ( and not the Type 2 pickup) Great find.

    • Hoos Member

      I’m with you. I’d want a stock hood, as well as returning the interior to stock. I would want “stock looking” wheels, although the set in the first picture are nice, and I’d put ’72 Chevelle tail lights on it. Some kind of skirt/tail panel to finish with a body color bumper integrated would do me just fine. I’d love to have it. Fun project to make a driver.

  4. William H

    As a kid I always loved the VW conversions. I’ve seen the front end on this one but never the bed so I’m assuming it’s a custom build.

    I always thought it would be neat to come up with conversions for the modern bug though I would imagine they are not nearly as easy to work on.

  5. rangeroger

    Truly Nolen was out of San Diego and was an avid car collector. Almost anywhere you went in the San Diego area was a vintage car, parked on a corner gas station or parking lot, painted in the Truly Nolen colors ( black and green) and his advertising on the side.
    The mouse VW’s were every where.

    • Charles

      I remember seeing the Truly Nolen mice VW’s in Central Florida in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

  6. Wayne

    40 Ford grilles etc., look good on 40 Fords, and Volkswagen fronts look great on Volkswagens, and never the twain should meet.

  7. OttoNobedder
  8. Charles

    Thanks for the link. It seems that the only limits are people’s imaginations.

  9. rick hutchinson

    I love a vw .the only thing is put raily weals …an leave the rest alone……

  10. KMShook

    Well, it’s 2021 and I finally found this article. I wish I saw it sooner and when she was for sale. I’d LOVE to have her back again. She was a sweet girl but you HAD to keep sand in the trunk(front) to hold the front firmly to the ground or she would try drift up on you. I had a set of 88 jugs on her and a slightly bigger solex carb for a wee bit better performance. LOL I response to working on the engine… There was plenty of room under the bed, by the engine to sit and work on her. Behind the seats there was also a ‘hidden’ cargo area that went under the bed a bit. I have looked for this girl for a long time. I was living in Acton CA, and when my family car broke down was forced to give here up in a trade. My wife and I had 3 very young kids at home so “Lil’ Joe” was just to small. Wife refused to drive her because she was my girl and she was afraid to scratch her… lol I wish I could say I even got a good deal on the trade, but you know when you need, you do. ANYWAY, I’d love info about where she is and how she is now…. PLEASE post me back any info…

  11. KMShook

    Just rechecked your pictures… top picture is how she was when I owned her. She seems to be missing her tailgate in the picture. Also the panel with the ‘Vega’ tail lights was hinged to allow easier access. LOL Yeah I remember her…

  12. KMShook

    I owned this sweetheart of a car back in 90-91. I had put 88 jugs on her and she had a little bigger solex carb to feed them. I so LOVE her. LOL With the little extra power, all the weight of the bed, I had to keep sand where the spare went in the truck to hold the front down firm. I was pulled over by PD now and then so they could give her a look. :) Working on the engine was pretty easy as there was a lot of room underneath. I could sit under it to work on it. I had picked her up off a retire dentist who got it from the builder. LOL Funny story there… I’ve looked for this girl many time but couldn’t find her. I just found your article in Feb 2021. My wife wouldn’t drive her because she was afraid the mess her up… lol. When our family car died, I had no choice but sell “lil’ Joe”. We had 3 young children so we needed a real car. I ended up getting what turned out a bad trade, but another deal came around so… the pic with the VW wheels in front looks like the vinyl along the side was torn… sigh… Wish I still had her to make her right again. I’d love an update on her now if possible… thanks.

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