I learned long ago to follow a simple rule of thumb when buying a used vehicle: don’t buy it at night and don’t buy it in the rain. If you think about it, you’ll know why those two statements are important.
But, aside from pithy sayings, I have some pertinent information to dispense regarding the purchasing of a used vehicle. And, in particular a used 1967 Beetle.
1967beetle.com receives A LOT of emails daily a from across the world. Most readers are wanting an opinion on the 1967 Beetles which they contemplate buying. I thought to put many of the pointers which I give into one concise document.
First and foremost—decide what you can spend. If you have not made this decision, you will become frustrated. Prices vary considerably. If you want a really nice car, put away a “war chest” of funds for the purchase which accords with your desires. Remember: if you are looking for a $2500 dollar car, you will get $2500 dollars worth. Today’s vintage 1967 Beetles in nice driving condition will cost from $6K to $10K. Unless you just stumble across someone who doesn’t know or who is just trying to unload a car for the cheap, don’t expect much if you don’t spend according to the market.
And, don’t go looking for a car and go through all of the business of talking, writing, phoning, etc., only to come to the buying point and you don’t have the money in hand. That’s going to be very awkward. If you negotiate—be sure to have the money ready. Sellers don’t like to spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with someone only to find that he doesn’t have the funds.
I hasten to add: don’t get in a hurry! A hurried purchase is the recipe for disaster! There always will be “another car out there”—so be patient and deliberate in the process.
Now, it is time to educate yourself. Find a prime example of a fully restored-to-factory-specifications 1967 Beetle. (Like below) The purpose is not that you have to buy one to that standard necessarily. A lot of us don’t have that purchasing power. However, the point is to look at a Beetle which is at its very best, one which exhibits all of the correct features of this year/model. Studying such a vehicle gives the prospective buyer knowledge of what to look for. That’s so simple, isn’t it! If you need a good example, contact 1967beetle.com.
You can do a year search to limit what you have to study, along with a distance and even a price range search. If you can find a Beetle within striking distance of your home and within your price range, all the better. Transport-shipping is expensive.
Now, study the examples that you find.
Be skeptical! Sellers are puffing their ads—you can count on it. Remember, it’s your money that you are going to spend. You’ve done your homework, now, put it to work. See if the advertisement meets the standards. “The engine is all stock?” Think again and do your research.
Ask plenty of educated questions. If the seller really wants to sell, he will be glad to answer educated questions about the car. Request additional photos of areas not shown in the ad but which are important.
Never assume anything. Recognize that a used car is a used car. It is old and it will have problems—some unseen even by the seller. Eliminate as many of these as you can. The less money you have to spend once you do buy the vehicle, the happier you will be.
If the vehicle is at a distance from you, learn about transport conditions and costs before finalizing negotiations with the seller.
A vehicle that is not running will cost more to transport.
It is best to view the car in person. If this is not possible, for a nominal fee, you can contact any one of several agencies On-Line to do an on-site report on the vehicle. Another avenue is to contact a Volkswagen Club in the target area. Often club members will be glad to view a car and do a report for you. If possible drive the vehicle or have someone to drive it to evaluate its performance. The more you know about the vehicle, the better.
If you are required to leave a deposit for the car, have it in writing as a record of this transaction. And, remember—a deposit usually is non-refundable.
Be sure that you and the seller are agreed on everything. Including the manner by which funds are going to be transferred. If through Paypal, for instance, there will be fees incurred on the part of the seller. So, the seller may ask for compensation for these fees. Never deal in cash at long distance. Get receipts for all funds. For vehicles which I sell, in addition to the title and title transfer papers, I print a Bill of Sale in duplicate which both I and the buyer sign and share pertinent information about the vehicle and conditions of sale and that it is an “as-is” sale.
Make certain that the car has a viable title that can be easily transferred. Third party titles can be not only tricky but often result in great expense or even impossible title transfers. Out-of-state title transfers can be difficult. Talk to a title company and to the Department of Motor Vehicles in your State to learn the laws governing such transfers.
Never, never buy a vehicle that doesn’t have a title or one for which the seller promises to send or obtain a title at a later date.
Make certain that the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the car is the same as the one on the title. The VIN will be found stamped into the chassis tunnel beneath the back seat and there will be a small aluminum tag riveted into the spare tire well. Both of these VINs should be the same as the VIN on the title.
Learn about the title transfer fees levied by your State. Know the laws. Don’t get caught at the last minute and find that you are going to be out hundreds of unexpected dollars.
Learn the conditions of insurability of the vehicle required at the time of title transfer.
And, a few little tidbits:
I usually rule out purchasing a Beetle that has spent its life in the “salt belt” or in a coastal area. Rust is expensive to “cure”. “Just a little rust” often is a warning of more to be discovered once the vehicle is in hand. Pass on such vehicles—there will be others that will be less problematic to restore or recondition.
If a Beetle has been wrecked, you may want to pass. Unless you just like to cut and weld, move on to a better vehicle.
Also, if you want a stock Beetle, don’t buy a modified vehicle and think that it will be easily returned to stock condition. Take it from an ole VW guy—you will nickel and dime yourself to death before it’s over!
And a picked-over VW Bug, missing a lot of those hard-to-find parts, is also a money pit. Pass on such a car and find one that is complete. I’ve had people to tell me…”But, Jay…I can get this car for (naming a very low price)!” Yes…but if they did their homework, they’d find that they are going to spend more money tracking down those missing parts than if they’d bought a complete car in the first place.
My final word for the day. Knowledge is power. And you want power on your side. Those are my two cents’ worth. Spend them wisely!