1963 VOLKSWAGEN Beetle

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1963 VOLKSWAGEN Beetle


The VW Beetle is one of only half-a-dozen cars that can claim to have genuinely changed the world. With a design that can trace its roots back to the 1930s, the Beetle was engineered by Ferdinand Porsche to provide low-cost, reliable transport for those for whom the possibility of owning a car had previously been nothing more than a dream; no wonder he christened the company Volkswagen, or ‘people’s car’.

The Beetle’s simple, robust mechanics meant that even those new to motoring stood a fighting chance of keeping it running – and keeping it running was cheap too, at least compared to the cost of feeding and stabling a couple of horses; you might not view 25mpg as being especially fuel efficient but then I’m willing to bet you haven’t seen the cost of hay these days, either…

The Vehicle

Mr Arthur Barty, ex-Black Watch soldier and chauffeur to the Queen Mother, purchased the left-hand-drive Beetle in 1968 when it was first imported into the United Kingdom, part-exchanging a Vauxhall Cresta against it. He obviously loved the vehicle, meticulously maintaining it over the years before treating it to a full restoration in 2010 by a well-known VW specialist.

Finished in the rare and beautiful colour of Turkish Green, fitted with an ultra-rare three-quarter length folding ‘Golde’ sunroof and fitted with the cherished number ’71 GLU’, this 55-year-old example is one of the best in the country. Which means it isn’t going to be cheap but before we tell you the guide price, let’s run through its many good points, shall we?

On the Outside

Restored to an extraordinarily high standard in 2010, the Turkish Green coachwork is still immaculate, with tight, even panel gaps and the paint quality is utterly stunning and has clearly had many hours of elbow grease poured into after spraying. Cars like this are notoriously hard to describe as there is little to say other than plead with you to take your time when looking at the photographs in order to properly appreciate the quality of the overall finish and the care that has clearly been taken with even the tiniest of details. Better still, why not pop along to see it in the flesh? We’ll be only too happy to pop the kettle on while we wait for you to finish drooling over it...

And there’s plenty of jewel-like details to drool over. Like the plastic covers that have been fitted to the front boot springs to stop them fretting. Or the beautifully finished, bi-colour spare wheel. Or the high-quality matching Continental tyres (on slightly wider than standard wheels). Or the underside, which is as clean as the topside. Or the exquisitely detailed engine bay. (You know a car is a good ‘un when the only thing to criticize in the engine bay is the fact the label on the Bosch coil is a bit grubby and ripped.)

Another delightful touch is the Golde sunroof, which is a rare and very welcome addition to the vehicle, allowing the occupants to enjoy all of the benefits of a convertible car with none of the drawbacks, making this example perfect for summer jaunts and impromptu runs to the coast.

Much of the brightwork is brand new, but a few pieces, such as bits of the window trim, appear original as they are slightly pitted, but to replace it would be an act of vandalism; a vehicle like this should be preserved and maintained in its original condition for as long as possible, if for no other reason than it’s easy to imagine the Queen Mother running a glove-clad hand over the Beetle as Mr Barty proudly introduced her to his new car…

On the Inside

The grey and cream interior is still as good as the day the restoration was finished. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised to find that the quality of the interior fixtures and fittings is considerably better than the factory originals. Vast swathes of vinyl, painted metalwork, chrome and Bakelite all combine to deliver one of the most beautifully simple interiors we’ve seen in a long time.

The front Bambus vinyl-coated bamboo parcel shelf is a delightfully period touch, adding both practicality and an aesthetic appeal and is indicative of the care and attention to detail that has been lavished on the vehicle, as is the retro/modern chromed dash-mounted stereo.

But the interior isn’t not perfect. Not even close. Because pedants and obsessives will already have noticed the fact that there are some tiny paint chips on the handbrake. Sorry.


The 1200cc engine and gearbox are believed to have been restored in 2010 at the same time as the rest of the vehicle was although there is no paperwork to support this. Still, paperwork or not, the Beetle runs and drives like a dream, as might be expected given its relatively recent restoration.

The car has just been serviced and the MOT runs out on the 28th June 2018.

History Highlights

As we said in the previous section, the only significant fault with this Beetle is the lack of paperwork; while its provenance is impeccable and utterly verifiable, there is frustratingly little in the way of paperwork to support the 2010 restoration, so you must bid on condition.

There are over 100 images in the Gallery including some history: a factory guarantee for a replacement Volkswagen engine that was fitted to the vehicle in 1971 and the original 1968 purchase invoice. There are also some old MOT certificates that suggests the car was painted orange at one time!

What We Think

Sometimes a car comes along that takes your breath away, and this is one of them. It’s partly the gorgeous colour and partly the provenance, but it is mainly the sheer quality of the restoration, which has held up extraordinarily well, even seven years later. Every single component on it was perfectly judged and flawlessly executed; taken in combination they raise this example from a mode of transport into something that is as close to being a piece of art as anything we’ve seen for a few years - and given the reaction it received when displayed in the owner’s local Volkswagen dealership, we could see this car going to someone who is content to display it in their private collection or museum.

Which, in some ways, would be a shame, because the first owner clearly enjoyed the car when it was in his custody. The MPH speedometer, taken in conjunction with the left-hand-drive configuration and 12,000-miles-in-a-year history, hint at long European touring holidays, a role to which it would still be eminently suited.

The guide price is £18,000, which is a lot of money for an old Beetle but then you’re getting an awful lot of old Beetle for your money. If it were to be carefully used and regularly shown, this example has the potential to be both a show winner and a well-loved member of the family as it gracefully enters its second half-century.

Viewing is always encouraged, and this car can be seen here at Patina HQ in Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Thames Valley Car Storage for storing your car, AnyVan for transporting it, and Footman James for classic car insurance.

Please note that there is an Auction Premium of 5% of the hammer price (plus VAT in UK & Europe only). Fees are minimum £600, maximum £6,000 (min Euro 720€/max 7,200€ & US$ min $500/max $5,000).

All vehicles must be collected within 7-days of the auction end. Storage fees of £180 + VAT apply (per car/per week) thereafter.

IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst Bonhams|Cars Online always strive to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings, we cannot claim they are complete analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer the opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle prior to bidding, and we encourage bidders to take advantage of this. We do look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this gives our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional. We do not formally test drive the cars.

Please also note that localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

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  • Location: Abingdon
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 111500
  • Chassis Number: 4538110
  • Engine: 1200
  • Gearbox: listings/auction-view.Manual
  • Colour: Turkis
  • Interior: grey

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