Wusty Wagon: 1973 Volkswagen 412

This wusty, I mean, rusty wagon isn’t really that rusty, just surface rust. But, as you can see, there isn’t much that isn’t coated with it. Any TV reality show worth their salt would clearcoat this car just as it sits now and sell it for a healthy profit. Well, maybe after spending a few weeks (months?) on the mechanicals and interior. This 1973 Volkswagen 412 wagon is on eBay with incredibly one bid of $2,550 so far. I say incredibly because when you look at the photos, wow. It’s located in bone-dry Buckeye, Arizona.

A lot of the photos were in a vertical format so I had to modify them to fit. The seller calls this one a barn find / field find, and if you know anything about most parts of the southwest, that means that a rodent convention was probably held inside this one. I could be wrong, but I doubt it, at least in this case. The body has a few dings and dents, but there really any rust-through other than “one little rust spot on the pan underneath the driver side seat where the battery is located.” This is a Type 4 Volkswagen and the 412 is actually somewhat hard to find in two-door wagon form. In the spirit of nightmare should-have-gotten-one themes, a really nice version sold at Barrett-Jackson for $5,500 in 2012. I wonder what that car would have sold for today? That’s basically only $3,000 more than the current bid on this car. $3,000 wouldn’t get a lot done on the restoration of this one; maybe 1/3? 1/4?

The 412 was designed by legendary designer Brooks Stevens. Or, actually he restyled the previous VW 411. I really like this car in fastback form, that would be the one that I would personally want, but it’s hard to argue with the utility of a wagon, even in two-door configuration.

Here’s where things start to get hairy, maybe literally. It looks like parts of the interior are in ok condition but parts of it are pretty rough; real rough. Between the sun and possible rodent damage it will take a lot of work inside. For anyone who has purchased a vehicle, or vehicles, recently from online ads, this line will give you goosebumps: “the interior is in fair condition”. That’s how the seller describes this interior, just so you can prepare yourself for what’s really in store for you when it shows up at the end of your driveway. Bbbbbb.. (shivers)..

Speaking of a lot of work, I’m not quite sure what’s going on with the engine. This was a fuel-injected car and someone spent $3,602.25 on various repairs, shown in a receipt in the seller’s photos, including work on the AC and other things. You can see that the formerly-injected engine is now carbureted, taking up a lot of the usable space in the rear. Unless the previous owner planned on doing a highly-detailed glass-covered engine, I have no clue why this happened. It doesn’t run but they say that it “fired for a quick second.” Bbbbb.. (shivers, again). This would be a very unique and unusual car, but, how are your restoration skills and your patience? And, most importantly, your checkbook?

Fast Finds


  1. Mark

    That receipt is for when he bought car used in 1974, replaced trim, roof rack fresh and something with radio. Almost 100.000 miles over that invoice now

  2. Adam T45 Staff

    The seller says: “The interior is in fair condition,….” Bahahahaha!!!

  3. Rex Kahrs Member

    Given the color of the body and the state of the interior, I shall borrow from a friend and call this car Leroy Brown. It looks like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone.

  4. Blyndgesser

    Engine parts for the Type 4 are hard to come by. Other parts are virtually impossible.

  5. 408interceptor

    Fill it with more garbage and send it to the crusher.

  6. Miguel

    Were these cars ever popular?

  7. Steve

    Well……no one like the yenko clone wagon earlier, and I did………and I kinda like this. It was a neat transitional time for VW, going from air cooled to liquid cooled. I say this car is cool, but im not buying it or restoring it.

  8. Dave

    I have two of these. I have had them for years. The engine is the same as the 70’s vw van, so parts are not hard to find for that. The rest is a lot of one off stuff, and very difficult to come by. 2500 is too much in this condition for a car that is only worth about 6000 is great shape.

  9. Will

    I had one identical to this one in Arizona in the early 80s. It was gold also. I loved that car. The fuel injection had been replaced with a carb just like this one. The carb didn’t fit under the engine cover so they installed a small black plastic dome in the engine cover over the carb. I acted just like a speaker amplifying the carbs sound into the interior. It sounded awesome. At least inside the car. Outside it sounded like a VW. I drove it from Tucson to south Florida and shipped it to England when I got transferred there. On the way it developed an oil leak that I fed a quart to every hundred miles for over 2000 miles. That was one clean engine after that trip. Eventually the Tranny went out in England and I sold it cheap. I would love to buy another but I want a mint condition one.

  10. mxb

    I had a Texas Yellow 411, which was the earlier version of the 412. It ran great. It was not your typical air cooled VW. It had McPherson struts in the front and coil springs in the rear, AC and an automatic transmission. The fuel injectors had a lot of problems with leaking gasoline, and since the passenger compartment heat came as hot air from the engine, the vapors were right there with you! That may explain why this one was converted to a carburetor setup. Mine had a gasoline burning auxiliary heater, so the leaking injectors made me especially nervous! I got a job as a mechanic at a VW dealer in 1979, and on my first day at work, the other mechanics were looking out the window at my car, thinking it was a customer’s car, and talking about how they hoped that they weren’t going to be the one to have to work on it!

  11. Wolfgang Gullich

    I still cannot fathom why people replace the fantastic injection system on these cars with carbs… They are relatively easy to troubleshoot and cheap to repair. I had this same engine in an ’82 Vanagon GL and never had any trouble with it daily driving for 4 years.

  12. John b

    This was the engine in the 914 also

  13. steve

    Owned one of these in light blue. Automatic trans gave up so bought a wrecked 411 fastback and converted the wagon to a 4 speed. Smooth, quiet and high 20s for mileage. Was everything the beetle wasn’t. Goofy mechanics? Sure, but actually simple to maintain.

  14. Roger

    Never heard of this model before – it resembles a little the second generation of the Variant here in Brazil.

  15. Eric Wildfire

    I had a 72 311 fastback with the fuel injected suitcase engine ~was my first car ~still miss it ! had a blast with that car and loved going through the sand of the Salt Lake Valley (and running from the local cops until they got 4X4 squad cars )
    the original fuel injected motor would make this worth a lot more ~imho still I think the $2500 bid is a bit high for the condition ~ you will more then likely need redo all the wiring and interior and then get to the motor

  16. Fred

    I worked for a VW dealer in 74 and we worked on a lot of these. In their day, they were a nice comfy car, but unreliable as hell. They converted the fuel injection probably to get the damned thing to start and run. Don’t buy this thing unless you want the challenge of working on it all the time.

  17. Anthony

    My very first car was a VW 411 and all beat up and ugly. Had flames coming out of exhaust when it back fired. Winter time the snow would come in through the vents when you tried to put the heater on. Had a lot Good times with that car and memories.
    It eventually caught on fire a few years later and burned all my college books I just bought while driving to school one morning. Even one firefighter said to me he never saw a two door version…

  18. Scotty Staff

    Auction update: this VW sold for $2,550.

  19. Jubjub

    Wow, I must’ve grown up in the most ideal demographic for these. Two neighbors had them and several others were frequently seen about. My sister even ended up inheriting a really rough, “Detroit proven”, 15 year old, 411 four door from a cousin. Rusty all over, dull original silver paint, mismatched fenders, randomly primered…surprisingly nice inside though. It survived cousin’s harsh ownership, made the trip down south and provided reliable enough transportation for a year so until Dad condemned it due to terminal unibody rust.

    • JYA!

      It’s not “rust” when you are selling a pile of scrap on wheels. It’s “patina”

  20. Tom

    When my last relationship ended it was in “fair condition” too. Always liked the 411/412 and the Variant before too it for some reason.

  21. Tako

    If more people would know that the Porsche 912E from the 70 used the same engine than the 412,
    price would might been different…

  22. Roger

    I owned one of these cars. Loved it until I was told they have a tendency to go up in flames. So I sold it to a friend with the knowledge of the warning I had about the going up in flames thing. He didn’t believe me. Well, about 2-3 weeks later, I drove by his house only to see the car in the driveway burning to the ground. The fire department was there trying to put the fire out, but it kept burning. The fuel pump pumping gas feeding the fire. So if you buy a 412 be aware of the fire problem!

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