November/December 2023

What’s a classic VW worth? 

Hagerty Valuation Tools acknowledges … it depends

By Cliff Leppke

Hagerty’s sense of vintage VW trends shows that despite the carping about its new-vehicle lineup, people are enthusiastic about its older models. People are spending more money for people-cars and Transporters.    

I asked John Wiley at Hagerty’s Valuation Analytics what’s up? Before we explore the data, you should know Hagerty’s Valuation Tool is problematic. Sometimes its taxonomy (listing of vehicle types and their names) isn’t accurate, doesn’t match VWoA’s marketing language or mixes histories or production dates from Europe. 

For example, Hagerty’s Mk2 GTI coupe, Motor Trend’s 1985 Car of the Year, has 1983 as its first model year. For 1983, however, the big news was the American-made Mk1 Rabbit GTI sedan. If you relied solely on Hagerty’s tools, you’d wonder why no Mk2 GTIs until 1985 — the first year VW made them in the USA for the USA.

Wiley says his department has considered my critique and that his team will modify its VW-related tools. He argues that rectifying differences in European car model names, trims and years is difficult.

Wiley’s explanation is this: The GTI, which is a hatchback sedan, is called a coupe because that’s the body style in Canada. So, although the Scirocco or Corrado were VW’s official water-cooled coupes, Hagerty adds another. Because coupe, these days, is a slippery description, you’d think the VW’s distinction of coupe and sedans would stick. Sometimes you’ll find a similar weak spot when comparing the Beetle and Karmann Ghia; some taxonomies list both as coupes. Some people think all two-door cars are coupes. They’re not.

Sale price ranges for classic Beetleson Hagerty’s website.

Hagerty’s taxonomy is based on vehicles imported for sale in the U.S., no specific sub or trim used. Therefore, almost all VWs are given the submodel “Base.” Thus, the U.S. Deluxe Beetle Sedan is Base. This might lead one to think you could buy the spartan standard Beetle in the States. It wasn’t officially exported.

Wiley says the breezy taxonomies and vehicle histories are due to the fact Hagerty doesn’t make a delineation between sales markets. The U.S. taxonomy was built first and later expanded to accommodate Hagerty’s UK Price Guide. Yet, many times the final model years are for the USA, not the UK. 

The vehicle histories, often poached from the Hagerty Driver’s Club magazine, aren’t fact checked. Thus, you’ll read that the 1967 Beetle has a rear sway bar. No, the 1967 Beetle has a rear Z bar, or compensator. It doesn’t work like a U-shaped sway bar. Instead of increasing the roll couple like a sway bar, it decreases it. In turn, the front wheels take on more cornering forces, increasing understeer.

The Z bar is different. On one rear wheel, it faces rearward. On the opposite side, it faces forward. Thus, when you raise one side, the other moves in the opposite direction — down. This is technical, for sure, but most swing-axle Beetles won’t corner predictably if you put a sway bar in the rear. Instead, you use a camber compensator or a Z bar. The Z bar let VW soften the rear torsion bars (springs), further increasing the front’s roll control. It acts like an assist spring, however, when the vehicle is loaded with college students. 

Hagerty’s Valuation Tools and taxonomies sometimes skip entire VW models — no Type 3 Fastbacks, Squarebacks or Notches. No Type 4s either. Look closely at Hagerty’s transaction prices. You’ll notice values reflect a specific model — convertibles. For example, convertibles dominant Beetle and Karmann Ghia listings. Hagerty’s VW vehicle line prices might reflect just one version.

For instance, dive deeper and you see Hagerty lists only 16-valve Sciroccos. In condition No. 1, it’s $47,000. Then, Hagerty’s taxonomy offers these model years: 1981-1988. VWoA sold the 16-valve model from mid-1986 until 1988 and early ’90s in Europe. VW’s other front-drive coupe, the 1993 Corrado VR6, is 64% greater than the earlier G60 model sold in the USA. You win extra points for knowing there was a 19921/2 VR6 Corrado. For 1993, the car sported various exterior refinements, and inside it received new instrumentation and switchgear.

Are you into VW Transporters? Campers rule. 

Hagerty’s Stefan Lombard offers these trends from its Bull Market report. 

He says the 1990-1994 Corrado G60, a member of the 2020 Hagerty Bull Market List, is “our top pick of all time.” No. 2 value average grew 61.5% (2020) $6,500 to $10,500. Since picked, the average has grown 268% to $23,900. VWoA discontinued the G60 in model year 1992. It might have been available elsewhere until 1995.

The 1980-2002 VW Vanagon (what happened to the EuroVan?) had a 38% bump in its Bull Market. 

Several VWs are on the rise. The top five for condition No. 2 between 2018-2023 are:

1990-1994 Corrado: +306% from $7,550 to $30,683 (VR6/SLC leads). Fall 2023 update: 1993 Corrado is $56,500.

1981-1988 VW Scirocco Mk2: +300% from $7,700 to $30,080 (19861/2 -1988, 16-valve). Fall 2023: $34,800. (We’re using 1981-1988, but VWoA introduced the Mk2 in fall 1981 as a 1982 model — so it’s actually 1982 through 1988 for the States).  

1949-1967 VW Beetle: +176% from $26,645 to $73,767 (convertibles lead). Fall 2023: 1964 Beetle sedan, $50,700.

1983-1992 VW Golf Mk2; 1983-1984 Mk 1 GTI: +150% from $4,233 to $18,116 (mostly 16-valve GTIs 1987-92). Fall 2023: $22,600.

1946-1949 Beetle: +136% from $41,600 to $98,066. Fall 2023: $87,600. 

Auction records: the 1964 VW Deluxe Microbus at $217,000 and 1960 Beetle Sedan at $121,000. 

Youthful water-cooled fans

VW owners tend to be younger than the average car enthusiast.

This is particularly true for Golfs, with 42% of Mk3 Golf owners Millennials or younger. Millennials own 31% of 2002-2004 Golf R32s (42% GenX). Baby boomers? Where are you? 

Gen X owns a majority of Mk1 Golfs 62%, Mk2 Golfs (52%) and Type 2 Transporters (54%). Boomers make up the largest ownership of Karmann Ghias (49%), 1968-1980 Beetles (and you thought the 1979 Convertible was the last) (49%) and Things (46%). 

By Cliff Leppke |


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