Ah, Puerto Rico. Land of beautiful beaches, mofongo, and the largest private Volkswagen museum in the known world. VolkyLand is one of the island's most unusual crown jewels: 170 pristine VW Beetles, Buses, Karmann Ghias, Things, and eye-popping one-offs, all the determined work of a single obsessive mind, sitting in a nondescript warehouse in a small city on the southwest coast. And now the entire collection is for sale.
The museum's closure and liquidation has been a long time coming. Its owner, a local man named Dr. Norman Gonzalez, is getting to an age where the ad-hoc operation is too much to maintain. Regular public hours dwindled to the occasional Sunday before ceasing last summer; recently, his family enlisted the help of noted car appraiser and host of Discovery's Sticker Shock Randy Carlson to begin parceling out the cars, which can be browsed on his site OldBug.com.
"I guess I just got lucky! The owner of the collection had bought a few cars through my website in the past," Carlson told The Drive. "He first contacted me to try the sell the whole collection at once, but that never transpired. Finally the decision was made to sell them one by one."
One by one, two by two, or the whole shebang at once—however you want to buy these VWs, Carlson is your man. In April, he trekked out to the island to see the collection in person for the first time and take a full inventory. Though he'd seen pictures of the collection before, he described walking through the door that first day "like Charlie entering the Chocolate Factory." Looking at the photos and videos he took—not to mention the listings themselves—that seems about right.
Despite the museum's operational struggles, the facility itself is impressive and well-maintained, looking a bit like Jay Leno's Garage if Leno had a one-track Volkswagen addiction. Its gleaming swarm of Beetles might be the most impressive showing, dozens of models including a trio of rare 1952/3 "Zwitter" cars, no fewer than five '50s examples equipped with the wonderful semaphore turn signals, a few Baja Bugs, and two of the 2003 VW Beetle "Ultima Edicions" built as a final send-off for the model, which was still being built in Mexico nearly 70 years after its forerunner first hit the streets in Germany.
Such is the breadth of the collection that it almost feels like a disservice to pick out specific examples, lest one of the scores of cars not mentioned be the true prize you're seeking. But nevertheless, the Type 2s deserve their own highlight reel: A turquoise 1964 21-Window that's just about perfect, an all-original '62 ambulance and '64 fire Bus that'd make a synchronous pair for some vintage Porsche club's track days, and come on, this 1966 High Roof special is just begging for a tasteful RV conversion.
Still haven't scratched that oddball itch? Check out this mid-2000's New Beetle that some nut converted to a proper rear-engined, air-cooled setup like the Bugs of yore. You'd probably be the only one on the block with a 1983 Grumman KubVan, a predecessor to the Grumman LLV mail truck still used by the U.S. Postal Service. There's a drag-built Beetle on offer, a Beetle panel van, and Beetles rebodied as everything from Hummers to MGs. And yes, a whole bunch of Things for those who like weirdness as a factory option.
It's only been a few days since the listings went up, but both Carlson and VolkyLand are getting hounded by people looking to get in on the garage sale of a lifetime. He recently had to put the word out that the museum won't be hosting any public hours in response to all this new attention; prospective buyers hoping to see the cars will need be vetted before a viewing appointment can be made through Carlson himself. Still, the craziness is warranted. It's not every day the world's largest private Volkswagen collection hits the market.
"So far we have sold about 10 cars, and that is on the first day of official sales," Carlson said. "There are dozens more that are being battled for right now and we haven’t even finished loading all the photos on the website yet."
Got a tip? Email the author: [email protected]