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Would You Rock a 1.6L Diesel Baja Bug?

Tim Odell April 19, 2016 For Sale 18 Comments

1973 baja bug diesel for sale

The original VW 1100-1600cc engines weren’t great at anything in particular, save being ubiquitous enough for their quirks to enter near common knowledge for a generation of gearheads. They offered mid double-digit horsepower and 20s mpgs in exchange for major maintenance intervals shorter than today’s oil change gaps. Today’s eBay find forces us to wonder: is a 50-ish horsepower diesel a better option?

Listed only as a “1.6L diesel”, we’re left to assume it’s a non-turbo from a late-80s model. How it’s driving those wheels (adapted to Beetle transaxle or somehow using its own) remains a mystery. 40mpg is attractive, and maybe there are some tweaks to be implemented on the motor to get a few more lb-ft or hp, but even then you’re left with a clattering nag of a motor.

We could overlook the shortcomings of the oil-burner were the car in great shape, but the rustbelt location and generally half-assed looking interior suggest otherwise. When the address is in Chicago, “surface rust on floor pan” means “start shopping for replacement metal”. Luckily, it’s only a few hundred bucks to replace . After you’re done with the metal work, there’s the stained headliner and plumbing on the engine to deal with.

Opening bid is already optimistic at $1200, but apparently there’s a reserve. What’d you pay for something like this?

  • dukeisduke

    With all that weight hanging off the rear end, wouldn’t it be wheelie-prone? Assuming it can get out of its own way.

    Also: “…needs ac lines and ac will work…”. I think that would be the least of your worries.

    • Vairship

      I’d be more concerned with whether the dc works…

  • kogashiwa

    That sounds pretty miserable.

    If not the original motor, I think I’d want something light and high-revving. Maybe a rotary.

  • tonyola

    It’s probably a good thing that there is only 50 hp to motivate this FrankenBeetle. With that engine/pendulum hanging off the back, imagine the oversteer that would always be lurking as a hazard at any high speed.

    • Think of the wheelies!

      • dead_elvis, inc.

    • BigRedCaveTroll

      Or the lackofsteer.

    • Rover 1

      Or low speed, on any slippery surface.

  • Batshitbox

    With cars like these we don’t consider the price for ownership, rather, the price of ownership.

    • Oh, I avoid that line of thought. I’ve found it threatens to promote reasonable decisions.

    • Alff

      It’s the kind of thing I want someone I know to buy.

      • I’m stealing this phrase.

      • Batshitbox

        Heh, I convinced my old housemate to buy a ’63 Scout 80 2WD just before I left town for 7 years (to go back home to my ’61 Scout.) When I returned he was so swamped with having an adult life he just gave me the ’63.

    • Troggy

      It’s for this reason that sometimes even a free car is still too expensive.

      • Batshitbox

        Ah, memories. Redusernab’s evil twin sister site, AtomicToasters.com used to have a regular feature about free stuff that wasn’t worth it…

      • Rover 1

        Did i tell anyone about the time I was given two Renault Fuegos ?
        That showed the truth of that phrase.

  • This is an interesting idea, but I can’t take a Baja Bug seriously unless I see a set of steering brake handles in it. Preferable cable-actuated via the parking brake mechanism, inasmuch as I imprinted on these things on the Oregon coast in the ’70s.

  • karonetwentyc

    Rust issues aside, I probably would drive this just for the sheer perversity of it. I’d also make sure to toss three or four 90lb. bags of cement in the front first.

    Actually, having re-read what I just wrote… No. This one needs to be someone else’s problem.