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Buy a cheap VW Beetle project

Who says that classic VWs are out of reach for those on a budget? Well, whoever it was obviously hadn’t seen these tantalisingly cheap eBay Beetle bargains…

Brew in hand, it’s difficult to resist a quick browse of what’s coming up on the nation’s favourite auction site. Indeed, a Saturday night session after an evening on the sherbets is often all that’s needed to tempt you into making a cheeky bid and bagging a new project. If luck’s on your side you’ll accidentally end up with a real gem – at worst you spend the next day nursing a hangover and relisting it in an attempt to recoup some of your losses…

Well, obviously we don’t advocate making rash purchases – but sometimes it’s fun taking a punt on a new project. Especially if you manage to find something with potential for not much money that you can work on at weekends, perhaps taking over where someone else has left off…

Few classics are as easy to work on or as well catered for when it comes to spares as the Beetle, so out of curiosity we did a search of what’s available at the bargain bucket end of the market. And it was surprising what we found…

beetle red

First up was a faded red ‘70s era Beetle which looked sorry for itself but seemed largely original and superficially at least relatively solid. The very short description said it was for ‘spares or repair’, the vendor confirming that it would need ‘heater channels and other bits of welding.’ It’s mostly complete with a gearbox but no engine. What got our bidding finger buzzing was the fact that it looks relatively unmolested. And when you’re doing a car up that’s good because you’re starting from fresh and not spending time and cash putting right someone else’s bodges… Sadly you’re too late for this one because the auction closed without any bids, despite a ridiculously low starting price of just £200. The one that got away?

beetle blue

Next, we spotted this ultra rare 1972 1302S. Being sold again without an engine (or gearbox this time) and in need of welding, as the vendor sensibly suggests, “It will not be put on the road in a weekend.” Nonetheless, it looks like the ideal restoration project because it seems mostly original and un modified – and that’s rare, these days. The starting price was a very realistic £95, and by the time the auction had ended just two people had bid, with the virtual hammer dropping at just £410.

beetle convertible blue

Okay, the summer’s on its way out but there’s still hopefully a bit of sunny weather ahead – and time to enjoy some top down motoring in our next potential project. It’s a Beetle Cabrio, and from the vendor’s description it sounds like he bought it on a whim without even viewing it. What a rebel! That said, flat screen Cabs are incredibly thin on the ground, so with some serious elbow grease it could prove a good little investment… Obviously a new floorpan will be required and no doubt there’s lots of rust throughout, but with a decent grinder, a welding kit and the necessary repair panels, nothing is impossible. There seems to be a bit of confusion about its provenance; the vendor says it ‘started off as a semi-automatic’ but we can see a clutch pedal in one of the photos. By the time the auction had ended, just six people had bid it up to £1550 – that’s not much money for a car that might be worth the thick end of £10,000-£12,000 if restored with the proper attention to detail.

beetle green

We loved this green 1300 Bug, not least because of the seller’s description which makes War and Peace look like a Post-It note. They’ve even gone to the trouble of listing precisely what work’s been done and what’s left to do which could prove very helpful. Again, it’s all there – and there’s lots of nice bits like the steel GT wheels and the relatively original looking interior. Some work’s already been done but to cut a very, very long story short, lack of funds and storage space means that it’s become one of the many unfinished projects out there. Certainly a really good prospect… and a flurry of bids (24 in total) resulted in a sale with the lucky winning bidder getting it for all the ones… namely £1,111.11.

steering beetle beetle engine

Our last possible project pick was this 1956 Oval. Beetles from this era rarely come up for sale, so this Classified Ad stating an asking price of just £6,500 seemed rather tempting. Crucially, the body is described as being ‘really nice and straight and free from body filler’. More interestingly, apparently it’s never been repainted so all that rare Coral Red paint is original. There’s a 30bhp engine included in the sale, but obviously this would need a rebuild. On the whole, it would make a smashing little winter project ready for next year’s shows…

beetle project red

As always with these things, it’s caveat emptor, or buyer beware – but if you go into a project with your eyes wide open and don’t spend too much money, then hopefully you won’t go far wrong. Just be careful if you do after a night out on the tiles or a Saturday night session!


The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage.






12 responses to: Buy a cheap VW Beetle project

  1. How do we go about purchasing one of these, bought wife a 1970 for Christmas and floor is completely rusted away, got burnt. But engine and tranny are good maybe I can rebound

    1. Hi Ricky, we don’t sell vehicles ourselves (well very rarely) so it’s a case of keeping an eye on Ebay, Facebook and Forums for a bargain, then checking it over to make sure it really is!! Good luck!

  2. I want to buy one but restore to a vehicle that I can take to re-enactments as a Army car need advice and help as haven’t got info where to get a runner and restore it, and a place where will make repro parts for this type of restoration.

    Thanks for your help to anyone that can.

    1. If you are looking to produce a faithful replica of oa WW” Beetle, you’ll need to at least start with a pre64 model, as the windows are smaller, idealling you’ll need a Split Window model (pre 53) but these are very expensive. Good luck with your project.

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