HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: 1964 VW dune buggy with Porsche 356 SC...

Pick of the Day: 1964 VW dune buggy with Porsche 356 SC power

Desirable late-model air-cooled engine makes this fiberglass buggy quite special


Sure, there are plenty of these VW dune buggies floating around, many for sale at bargain prices.  But the Pick of the Day, a 1964 Volkswagen dune buggy, has something special indeed bolted on behind the seats: a late-model Porsche 356 SC engine. 

While the Porsche 356 engines might appear to be nearly identical to those of VWs, both being horizontally opposed, air-cooled, 4-cylinder designs, the later 1,600cc Porsche engines are superior in quite a few respects, with key differences that make them more robust with greater power.   Porsche engines were built for performance while VW engines were designed for reliable everyday driving.

Very early 356s used essentially identical mechanical components to Volkswagens, but it wasn’t long before they deviated to make the Porsches significantly different, real sports cars that performed well on the race track as on the road.

Porsche engines are also a whole lot more expensive, which makes the $23,000 asking price for this dune buggy seem quite attractive.  This 95-horsepower SC engine from a 356C, the final 1963-65 model in Porsche’s original series and the hottest pushrod engine then available, could cost nearly as much as this entire buggy. 

There are lots of 356 restorers who would like to take this engine and transplant it into their Porsches, as well as VW owners who would like to perk up their hobby cars with a hotter engine.  You could wring as much power out of a VW 1,600 engine with the right expert tweaks, but the Porsche engine output could be boosted higher than that with aftermarket parts.  

Although, this classic SC engine is best left alone.  And it should make the street-legal dune buggy a hoot to drive.  The engine “makes this dune buggy fly!” says the private seller in St. Augustine, Florida, advertising the car on


Aside from the Porsche engine, this dune buggy reportedly is in good condition and ready to drive on or off road. The 1964 Volkswagen designation is most likely for the chassis and suspension from the donor car. 

“The body is in good condition, teal-green fiberglass, it has a custom but still vintage look,” the seller says in the ad.  “It is fitted with alloy wheels and T/A radial tires (like new).   Black vinyl seats.   Brand new gauges.”


The photos show that the buggy has one damaged headlight bucket, and a new housing will go with the sale, to be installed by the next owner, the seller notes.

Porsche fanatics might consider the $23,000 asking price to be merely for a Porsche SC engine with a dune buggy attached to it.  Really, one could take off the engine and use it for a 356, then install a good VW engine in the dune buggy, and sell that for not much less.

To view this vehicle on, see Pick of the Day.

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.


  1. The appraiser got it wrong. The engine series number on this car is 616/6, not 616/16. The engine in this car is a late 1955 1600 normal – 60 hp. There are other details that would be easy to see if you were to compare the case in this car with a real SC case side by side. One big difference is that the SC’s use big 40mm twin throat Solex carburetors, as opposed to the 32mm Zenith carbs that it now has. Not trying to be negative, but knowing what this car actually has is important for everyone involved. Because of my professional involvement with Porsche (40 years) I have seen many bad deals – some of them involving legal action – because of this kind of oversight. I would hate to see that happen here!

    • Same reason rodders switched to Cadillac engines in lieu of hopped flatheads. Starting out with more power before modifications. Lots of questions about this car. When was it built? If the ’64 VW pan was older to begin with, the 50’s Porche engine would not have been that valuable. The recent surge is just that, recent. I’m not that old, but 356’s were still being scrapped in the 70’s. Part of what makes them rarer now.


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