By on June 2, 2016

1974 Volkswagen Beetle

If there was ever a hermetically sealed time capsule of a car, this is it. And we can thank an old, religious Italian man who hated driving for keeping it so fresh.

A beyond pristine 1974 Volkswagen Beetle, once a common sight on roadways everywhere, just sold at Silverstone Auctions in Denmark for a price that would make an original buyer choke on their Tab. Did they get a good deal? It depends on how much value you put on “perfect.”

1974 Volkswagen Beetle

The gavel came down on the ’74 Bug when the bidding hit 38,250 euros, or just shy of $43,000. For that price, the buyer drove off with a 42-year-old vehicle with 89.9 kilometers on the odometer.

Yes, the original oil came with the vehicle. Let’s hope those Polyester Era hydrocarbons are still up to the task of lubing the 1.3-liter engine’s guts.

1974 Volkswagen Beetle

The Bug was delivered by G. Terragni Volkswagen to one Armando Sgroi of Genova, Italy on January 23, 1974. Sigroi, an elderly, frail, and deeply religious man, had never owned a car before. When walking the short distance to church became too much of a chore, he relented and bought a car, despite not liking them.

Time was short for Sigroi, and the Bug saw its last “road trip” in 1978. When it was discovered recently in a barn, presumably by shocked locals, the vehicle was cleaned, waxed, and sent off to the auction house.

1974 Volkswagen Beetle

Everything about the car, except maybe the interior air, was original, right down to the brochures in the glove box and an unopened set of tools. For Beetle lovers, this was the cleanest example available on earth. And it still sold for less than a base Touareg.

[Images: Silverstone Auctions]

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39 Comments on “World’s Cleanest VW Beetle Sells at Auction; Buyer Even Gets Original Oil...”

  • avatar

    And I would rather spend the $43k on this than a Toureg. Nice find…

  • avatar

    Back in 1997 one of my managers when I first started working at Mobil across the street from my HS had this car.

    Never liked it.

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      Amazingly insightful comment, you’ve really propelled this discussion forward. Now we can stop wondering how a teenager 20 years ago at a gas station felt about someone else’s car.

    • 0 avatar

      My dad was a serial Beetle owner (’58, ’65, ’70). I learned to drive in the ’70.

      Super Beetles (curved windshield, MacPherson strut front suspension, binnacle dash) never looked “right” to my eyes. Yes, I know that Beetles changed over the years, but the Supers always seemed like some sort of Frankenstein creation.

      To my eyes, the US-market ’67 strikes the perfect balance: old-style bumpers (with Euro-optional guards), flattened hubcaps, upright headlights and body-color painted dash with chrome strips. My older sister had one in robins-egg blue.

      • 0 avatar

        My sister had a ’71 Super Beetle, it had a flat windshield and dash, but still the MacPherson strut front suspension. The hood was a little more aquiline that was the regular Beetle, and the fenders and front fascia were a little more curvacious, as far as Beetles go, I though it was one of the better looking models. Her love of Beetles has remained to this day, she is currently driving one of the latest generation of the front drive Beetles.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed, my dad had a ’67 on which I learned to drive. I loved it but he traded it in on “a great new car for the kids to drive”, a 74 Vega. Automatic.

  • avatar

    So conceptually beautiful, pure and iconic. Equally useless in today’s traffic.

    • 0 avatar

      In a crowded city this would be an EXCELLENT car. Not so much anywhere else, though.

    • 0 avatar

      Kenmore’s strikes me as a very odd comment. I actually rode around, behind and alongside a Bug of about this vintage for a few miles going home in traffic yesterday and the guy driving it looked to be having a good time. I was surprised by how much get-up-and-go it had from a stoplight and how well it seemed to scoot on down the road when traffic opened up enough, and found myself imagining whether that might be a more fun and engaging vehicle to drive back and forth to work in than my own car (G35s w/ 6MT).

      • 0 avatar

        Had three, family had two more plus a Type 3. I’m not idly trashing them. I’m pointedly trashing them from vast experience of daily driving in the snow belt.

        Try one yourself, preferably in a snowstorm. You’ll never fully appreciate the HVAC in a modern car till you do. Or the brakes. Or the engine.

      • 0 avatar

        The odd time that I’ve been behind an old Beetle or VW Van in the last few years, I’ve passed them as soon as physically – not legally – possible. I have no interest in breathing those exhaust fumes for any extended period of time.

        My climate is too cold in winter to understand why anybody would have ever driven something with an air-cooled engine year-round.

        However, I can understand why someone with excess funds and nostalgia for these cars would pay what they did for this example. It’s a nice piece of art.

        • 0 avatar

          “why anybody would have ever driven something with an air-cooled engine year-round”

          Young, poor and willing to wrench in the odd event. Bugs were cheap, ubiquitous and reliable like a pry bar is reliable.

          Plus, this was before the J-car invasion provided much in the way of used alternatives with anything like the build quality.

          Otherwise it was Detroit iron in the saltbelt. Clugga-da lugga-da….

  • avatar
    Piston Slap Yo Mama

    Someone in South Texas is bringing the last of the Mexican built bugs in and somehow swapping vins with pre-existing American rust buckets. We’ve regularly attended the show in Fredericksburg and seen a few. As long as the Feds keep crushing Land Rovers and Mini Coopers maybe they won’t notice what’s happening down south – as it’s an obvious way to score a modern-ish Bug with mod-cons like fuel injection, air conditioning and catalytic converters. The fit & finish is quite good too.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    That price seems surprisingly reasonable to me considering it is likely the best one in the world and there may never been another one as original.

    I have to imagine that it being a later model kept the bidding out of the stratosphere.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    New, that car was $2625… or $12740 in 2016 dollars.

    Its value has almost kept up with the S&P 500 since then.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    To me, that price was a bargain. Think of it as a piece of sculpture. If I had a big loft, I’d see if I could get it in the freight elevator.

    • 0 avatar

      The Boston MCA – Museum of Contemporary Art – had an exhibit a few years back which was an old black Beetle, completely disassembled, its parts hung by wires from the ceiling.

      I’m sure there were many deep artsy themes going on, but I just enjoyed seeing the Beetle in its simplicity.

  • avatar

    It’s only original once and there are enough Beetles out there that keeping the occasional freak of nature like this in museum storage is actually a good thing. It could be reference collection item so restorers know exactly what a new one looked like, smelled like, on occasional nice days, drove like.
    I don’t like cars being kept in storage for investments like self-propelled Krugerrands, but keeping something in totally original low mileage condition in storage is more about it’s value as a historic artifact than as something to make money off of. This holds doubly true for total frame off restorations that no longer have any originality beyond the serial numbers and some of the base metal.

  • avatar

    I bought one brand new in 1972, drove it through America, Canada and Mexico. I t never let me down, the only downside was the rear tyres would wear prematurely on the inside the car changed lanes without moving the steering wheel in windy conditions
    I think that I paid $2745.00 Cdn. for it, I was looking to buy a 1972 BMW 2002ti but the VW dealer threw in a radio to seal the deal

  • avatar

    Says a lot for the basic goodness of the old Bug. Amazing little piece of work.

  • avatar

    Looks nicer than the bugs in the lobby at VW Chattanooga Assembly.

  • avatar

    Sorry, I never understood the following these things had. Noisy, little heat in winter, hippie/professor/snob-mobile. Gives sport jackets with elbow patches a bad name.

    I have driven them, and while they are fun to drive for a while and relatively good on gas back in the day in comparison to domestic iron, I preferred Detroit iron all the way.

    • 0 avatar

      They were reliable in all weather for the time, easy/simple to fix with basic tools, stable at *then* highway speeds, replacement parts were in plentiful supply and affordable to buy, sturdy (for the time), had accessible everything in the rear engine compartment (my uncle was a bug-nut and used to literally take entire beetles apart and put them back together as well as do total rebuilds of their motors in his spare time), and were very affordable to purchase new or used etc.

      These were a much improved German/European version of the Ford Model T.

  • avatar

    A waste of money for the first owner and somebody else cashed in on the find.

  • avatar

    I don’t think it was a waste of money for the first owner, Armando Sgroi. He only drove it to church, but it seems to have gotten him there and home again for the four years he needed it.

    Yeah, it sucks that he didn’t get to cash in on it before he died, but what would he have done with the money anyway?

  • avatar

    I dunno. I love old cars but I think these ultra low mileage jobs are kind of stupid. Put this Bug’s purchase price in 1974 into a mutual fund and what would you have today? I bet at least 10 times more than $43,000. Just sayin.

  • avatar

    Not as virginal as they’re making it out to be. The rear deck is that of a 1968-69; after 1970s, cooling slots were put in the engine compartment lid. After 1972, there were four rows of wider slits…as the engine, stressed more with power and emissions demands, had more temperature issues.

  • avatar

    This bug is destined to be in the remake of “Sleeper”.

  • avatar

    @JustPassinThru: Euro Bugs were still available with the lesser 1200cc and 1300cc engines as a standard, whereas the US got only the 1600cc in the 1970s. Less engine equals less cooling slits (or none). A German model 1300cc ’74 would still have slits in the engine lid, unlike the 1200cc (and yes, there were 1200cc Super Beetles!) … but that says nothing about Italian models.

  • avatar

    The one thing I see overlooked in most of the comments here regarding the “why would anyone have driven one of these” diatribes is the gas mileage.

    Growing up in the late ’70s, Mom had a ’72 Buick Riviera which got about 12mpg. Dad had a ’68 VW Type I which was good for around 28mpg — with a 44 mile round-trip commute every day.

    Given malaise-era stagflation and a crappy interest rate on their new house (13.8% on $78,000 in 1977 — my mind boggles), Dad had to save money somewhere and saving it at the pump still seems like a reasonable place to do it.

  • avatar

    The VW Bug may have been strange-looking, noisy, not very comfortable (although its suspension was a lot better than that of its leaf-sprung competition) and really rather small inside, but it was really well-built. There’s a sense of sturdiness and (dare I say it) craftsmanship that radiates from every bit of it, even after a decade or two of use.

    My first Bug was a ’70, back in ’88. It had almost twice as many kilometres on it as did my Dad’s recently junked Chrysler Simca 1308, and it was more than twice as old as that Simca had been on its last day. And it wasn’t a well-preserved Bug by any stretch of the imagination — one of the first things we had done on it was add DM 500 worth of welding to its DM 500 purchase price so as to pass TÜV inspection. And yet — it drove really well, its doors and lids clicked shut with the sound of eternal solidity, its seats felt like new, and even its paint (where not affected by rust) shone nicely after the application of a bit of elbow grease.

    It was, in other words, far from used up. And in 1988, that was pretty good for an 18-year-old car, regardless of make.

    Add the toughness, the surprising offroadability, the fuel economy, the cheap parts and easy fixing, and yes, the chick-magnetism (which tended to attract the ones with brains and humour, which was just fine with me), and there you have it: plenty of reasons to own an old Bug. As if any were needed — I had been in love with the things from early childhood anyway :-)

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