I have to imagine that there was once a circus somewhere that decided to skip the typical slapstick Benny Hill skits and decided to re-enact Smoky and the and the Bandit…but with clowns. Smokey would drive something black-and-white, it doesn’t really matter, but Bandit would need a properly clown ride and I can’t imagine a better car than this next thing. Find this 1978 Volkswagen Beetle offered for $5700 in Buffalo, NY via clownbook markettent. Tip from Matt.
The Type 3 was a Dustin Hoffman approved Fastback, Notchback (coupe) and Squareback (wagon) that offered an improved driving experience for VW lovers over the ancient Beetle, but in a familiar rear-engine air-cooled setup. Prices for the Type 3 were always higher than a similar condition Beetle, and the days of cheap examples is long gone, but you don’t need to be a Rockefeller to afford a decent version. Find this 1969 Volkswagen Type 3 Squareback offered for $6,600 reserve-not-met via eBay with 5 days to go in Lakeland, FL.
You can get a pretty nice late model 7-passenger minivan for a lot less than the asking price of this next Vanagon. That 2010ish Honda/Toyota/Kia minivan will be more reliable, more comfortable, and faster…but it won’t be cool and it won’t come with a manual gearbox. So, what is the price of driving something cool? Pay more up front, pay more to repair, and pay with bad driving experience…but this is the burnt avocado toast of the automotive world versus the Kia Sedona (peanut butter on Wonder Bread.) It might be overpriced and horrible…but you’ve got a reputation to uphold yah dirty hipster. Find this 1990 Volkswagen Vanagon offered for $14,000 in South Florida via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.
Dick Dean was a custom car builder who managed George Barris’ famous Kustom City garage for a few years, and is credited for building (or helping build) TV cars like the Munster Koach, Dragula, the Green Hornet’s Black Beauty, the Monkeemobile, Death Race 2000 cars, and the Ghostbusters ECTO-1. In the late 1960s Dean launched his own line of custom dune buggies built on shortened Beetle pans, including the Shalako and Shala-Vette. This work eventually lead to Dean building the Bricklin SV1 with Malcom Bricklin, but I still think his best design is the strangely appealing (not appalling) Shala-Vette. Find this 1969 Shala-Vette offered for $13,000 in Madison, WI (along with a number of other classics being offered by the seller including a ’59 Morris, ’70 Siata Spring, ’69 DAF 55, and others).
The Volkswagen Squareback is a wagon variant of the popular Type 3 platform, which was a shared floorpan that used Type 1 Beetle (and Type 14 Karmann Ghia and Type 2 Bus) parts to build rear-engine air-cooled Notchback, Fastback, and Squareback. It is funny to think that 50 years ago Volkswagen was this tremendous builder of economy cars that were interesting and different from the mainstream, but today it owns Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and Porsche — and it mostly sells boring same-as-everybody-else-but-marketed-different junk. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about being the largest seller of vehicles in the world, but where did all the aircooled fun stuff go? Find this 1972 Volkswagen Squareback offered for $2700 in Sacramento, CA via craigslist.
BMW’s experimentation in the economy car market started long before they acquired the Mini brand — in fact, it started with the Isetta minicar and later moved to rear-engine aircooled BMW 600 and 700 models. This next 700 saloon looks strangely similar to a Glas Isar/Goggomobil T700, but this was before BMW’s acquisition of Hans Glas GmbH and purely coincidence. Find this 1960 BMW 700 with VW engine offered for $10,000 in San Diego, CA via craigslist.
Back before Volkswagen got in massive trouble for their diesel emissions cheating scheme, VW sold diesel powered Golf and Jettas that only cheated their owners out of performance. I’ve never owned a Mk 1 Jetta, but I did have a Rabbit diesel with the same 1.6 liter diesel lump of scrap iron and it was slow. Mind-numbingly slow. But the advantage of having an engine with the BMEP of a balloon animal is that the engine will last forever, or at least past 421k miles like this next thing. Find this 1984 Volkswagen Jetta Diesel offered for $2500 in Salem, MA via craigslist. Tip from ME.
To say that prices for the vintage Volkswagen Type 14 Karmann Ghia is an understatement at best. People seem to ask anywhere from $5k to $25k for a basic running/driving example, and I can’t tell if it the cheap ones are total junk or the expensive ones are overpriced junk. Hagerty lists a surreal jump from $10k for a #4 fair example to $71k for a #1 concours perfect example. This is not the typical spread for a classic car, and it indicates some interesting market dynamics, particularly for a car produced in prodigious numbers like the Type 14. Anyway, today’s next example could probably be turned into a basic running driver by a few weekends of labor and is offered for a cheap price. Find this 1963 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia offered for $7000 in Novato, CA via craigslist.
The world is filled with yawn inducing boring stuff. Just look at your nearest Toyondaordmotorstallanis dealer. The stuff you see in the showrooms is an insult to the 7 year old version of yourself who dared to dream about driving someday. It is boring, safe, comfortable, and gives you this false sense of security about arriving at your destination without stopping to diagnose a strange noise or soldering a coil pack harness on Christmas eve (true story from this past Xmas). These safe and sensible cars are fine for the zombified masses who wear name brands like RFID ear tags and read the fine print before signing mortgage docs — but readers of this rag know better. We know the feeling of success and relief when reaching your destination. And we understand that swapping a modern 1.8T Audi/VW engine into a vintage Caddy is a thing of beauty. Find this 1980 Volkswagen Rabbit Pickup Sportruck offered for $7000 in Machester, VT via craigslist. Tip from Cory.
This next car comes as a tip from David who writes: Look, run it, don’t run I’m aces either way. But just tell me that’s not actually the air cleaner mounted on what should be the top of the quarter panel. As the proud owner of a ’90 C4 Corvette I’m tempted to get this just to confuse everyone. Yes David, that is a rare optional headrest/aircleaner attached to a single piece Vettish fiberglass body sitting on a Beetle chassis. Wow, that was harder to write than I expected. Find this 1973 Volkswagen Beetle Custom Corvette offered for $1234 in Apopka, FL via fiberbook glassplace.