What to Know When You are Looking to Buy an Air Cooled Volkswagen

Buyer beware, things you need to know before buying an air cooled VW Camper, Van or Beetle.

To Avoid getting in over your head follow these steps:

We have uncovered reality for many customers over the years. It pains us every time we have unexpected news. We see  consistent hacks time and time again. If you follow these steps you will go into this marriage more prepared, confident and informed.

  1. Have a realistic budget set aside for purchase and repairs. We will talk numbers a little further along.
  2. Find and get to know a trusted air cooled VW mechanic, as in they are putting your interests over their own, and preferably they are within driving distance. Be prepared and willing to tow your vehicle that distance. Consider yourself lucky if one is close by.
  3. Before you buy an air cooled Volkswagen camper, van or beetle you should, we highly recommend it, bring it to this trusted air-cooled VW mechanic to have it assessed.
  4. Get an estimate for repairs, a complete health check on the electrical system, suspension, brakes, body, chassis including photos of the undercarriage, and a diagnostic of the engine. Know that an air cooled VW mechanic can not make a full diagnosis of your engine until it is pulled out and torn down. Of course one can not pull the engine until after one purchases the vehicle. However, your mechanic should be able to give you a list of concerns.
  5. Drive it, if it runs. If it doesn't run find one that does and drive it. Drive it up hills, down hills, and on a windy day, especially if it is a camper and make sure you LOVE it. Driving a VW Camper is like driving a loaf of bread down the road. Don't get me wrong I am a huge fan, love my camper, but you need to feel the car under your control and know you are comfortable before making this investment.
  6. Now that you know the vehicle, you like driving it, and are familiar with what it needs and you are convinced you want to buy it; add the selling price to the estimated repair bill and add 50% to that. For example ($3,200 selling price + $5,000 in repairs) + $4,100 (50% more)  = $12,300.

Dear lord, why? How did that price go from $3,200 to $12,300. Well, we will explain.

Now if you have the budget for this project and that number didn't scare you that is awesome because air cooled Volkswagens are super fun vehicles. When they are repaired and maintained properly and fed the right gas they can be very reliable. In addition the engine will not leak oil. Honestly.

However, they are 43 - 63+ years old. In that time many hands were in your engine, your electrical system, and water has gotten into spaces that were hidden with hack paint jobs, Bondo and sloppy welds.

In addition to that the parts are harder and harder to find. Especially good cases. They no longer manufacture some of these parts and if they do you can't count on them being made properly so things don't fit or simply don't even work. So all this hassle costs you more money.


We have a lot of photos and stories to share in this article, but alas I must get back to work for now! To be continued...