eBay Find of the Week: 1971 Volkswagen Beetle and the art of the deal

1971 Volkswagen Beetle

This week’s eBay find is a potentially interesting car and also provides a lesson in how not to create an eBay listing. As an avowed collector car bottom feeder and bargain hunter, I relish listings like these for their bargain potential.

The auction listing is for a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle, known and loved by millions for decades. The seller claims the VW is unmodified and has only 33,000 original miles. If true, the Buy-It-Now price of $6,500 is quite reasonable and, using Hagerty’s valuation tools, is below the average value for a car in #3 (or “good”) condition. That alone makes the listing notable.

Unfortunately, that’s essentially all that it says, which leaves plenty of questions unanswered. For instance, notice the wider front trunk cover and horizontal spare tire? That makes this a Super Beetle, although the car isn’t listed as such.

Is the paint original? Considering it is a Midwest car, is the undercarriage clean and are the floor pans solid? Do the few basic features of the car operate properly? How did it remain so clean and accumulate so few miles in its 46 years? There has to be a story there.

Interior photos are minimal, but they show minor and common modifications like an aftermarket steering wheel, stereo, and trim around the single center gauge. These are acceptable and reversible; some consider these changes to be improvements. Regardless, the car isn’t “all stock,” as described.

The Beetle’s appeal is more limited in rural Michigan, where the car is located, than in other parts of the country, so eBay is the perfect venue to sell it. But without adding more information, a remote buyer won’t be convinced to take a chance on it. This car might be worth more, but it’s a risky proposition for the buyer without seeing the car in person. By adding a few more photos (perhaps taken in a more appealing location with less background clutter) and also including the Beetle’s backstory, the seller could ask for—and garner—a higher asking price.

For local buyers or those willing to roll the dice, this under-served listing could make for a good buy. Without more information, however, there’s no way to tell if this is a dream or a nightmare.