Home » This Video Of An Old Mine Filled With Old VW Beetles And Golfs Has A Mystery

This Video Of An Old Mine Filled With Old VW Beetles And Golfs Has A Mystery

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A number of readers, knowing my fetishes and sources of joy remarkably well, sent me this video to check out. It’s a video from the Exploring the Unbeaten Path YouTube channel, which features a lot of videos exploring places like abandoned military sites and ships and, in one especially interesting episode, the hangar where the dilapidated Soviet space shuttle Buran was left to rot. In this episode, though, they’re exploring a mine in Switzerland that is, improbably, filled with a metric (remember, it’s Europe) crapload of mostly ’70s (but some ’60s)-era Beetles, Mark I and II Golfs, and the occasional Polo, Passat, and New Beetle.

Volkswagens all, sitting there in the damp mine, getting slowly covered in mold, a strange colony of VWs in the darkness and dankness. It’s fascinating and strange, but there does seem to be a reason why all those VWs are down there. There’s also a sort of mystery under the decklid of one of those Beetles I need to show you, too. And some other weirdness!

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The reason for why these VWs are down there seems to have been solved, though, so that’s good. The cars seemed to be owned by the proprietor of the Musée Volkswrecks, in St. Sulpice, Switzerland. These seem to be parts cars or cars that were deemed unfit for public viewing, based on whatever arcane and complex criteria the curator has. The museum (and bar, it seems) is described like this:

Museum of old VW air cooled cars. More than 125 vehicles to discover. Discover the magical world of the Volkswagen dating from 1950 to 1980 in more than 40 reproductions of sets. A design bar made of car parts and an alley of 60 beetles where visitors can sit behind the wheel and enjoy memories and discoveries for young and old.

That sounds pretty amazing to me! Next time I’m in Switzerland to get my chocolate watches repaired or my cheeses perforated, I’m going to be sure to check that out, because if it was any more up my alley, I’d be dragging my trash cans out into it.

Okay, you need to see this video already, so we can discuss:


Pretty amazing! I’m still not clear on what the logistics of getting them down in there was – were these driven in? Towed in? How did all that work? I guess there’s an entrance off a road? None of that part is clear.

I’m happy to leave that to be a mystery, but let’s look at the cars. The first one they encounter is this at least 1973 Super Beetle with a golden hood:


If I owned this Beetle, I’d name it Tycho Brahe, after the 16th-century Danish astronomer who had a golden nose, because he lost his OE nose in a duel over who was a better mathematician. He also died because he wouldn’t get up to pee, so, take a lesson, people. The condition of this Beetle is pretty representative of most of the cars down there: not much rust, but lots of mold and decay, and missing glass.



For a lot of the missing glass cars, I assume the glass was just used for other cars; what really baffled me was this car, which seemed to have its glass (or is that plexiglass?) really clumsily replaced by securing it in place with that spray-foam crap. Why? What’s going on here?


This other Super Beetle was pretty fun as well – someone had modified it to look a bit like a Hebmueller cabriolet, or, really, like a DIY version of the famous Stoll Coupe, a one-off Volkswagen with that very prominent bustle-back.



It’s actually pretty well executed, I think, at least the bodywork. The flame job I’m less sold on.


This is an interesting car, one very unusual in America: the second-gen Passat, in five-door hatchback form. I always liked these. It’s the big triangular-ish C-pillar window that makes it for me. There’s other good water-cooled VW stuff down there, too, like this well-preserved Kamei aftermarket catalog:


I like those colander-style wheels especially. And the quad-rectangular headlamp Golf looks surprisingly good!



This DIY Remus sport exhaust made of square-section tubing is also pretty funny. What are the little needles for there? To keep out nesting birds?

Okay, let’s get to the big mystery. It was under the engine lid of this 1302 Beetle:


It’s odd seeing the two-vent decklid (1970-1971) with the big “elephant’s foot” taillights (1973 and up) but you know how Beetles are, parts get mixed and matched all the time. Anyway, look under the hood:



So…what’s going on with that plastic jug? It sure as hell isn’t coolant – you’re breathing Beetle coolant right now. The hose doesn’t seem to lead to the fuel pump or fuel feed lines, but instead seems to disappear back into the lower part of the fan shroud. It’s not the crankcase breather, which is combined with the oil fill tube on a Beetle, and vents into the air cleaner, as pointed out in the picture.

So what the hell is that plastic tank doing? Could it be a fuel expansion canister? Those were usually up front in the trunk, near the gas tank. There was also another canister under the left rear fender, but I don’t think it’s that, either. What would it be filled with? The only liquids in an air-cooled VW engine are fuel and oil, and it doesn’t seem to be either of those.

Hmm, the oil cooler is in the fan shroud there – could it be plumbed into that? And if so why? And if so, why is that white plastic tank so relatively clean-looking?

What am I missing here? Someone help me make sense of this.




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20 days ago

Next time I’m in Switzerland to get my chocolate watches repaired or my cheeses perforated

chefs kiss

20 days ago

Seeing how they’re in a cave you’d expect the oldest models to not have headlights.

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