Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pity me...I had a VW Bug

Seems it's nostalgia time lately on many blogs I read.

Hey, I don’t share personal tales that often here. I know; you can thank me later. But I was over at FOMA (that’s harmless untruths if you’re not into the whole brevity acronym thing). Anyway, yellowjkt did a post on an orange VW super beetle he used to have and it reminded me that, yes, I too had an orange beetle for 13 years and 270,000 miles.

And with so many years and so many miles; well, if you ever owned a VW you know that surely there were a lot of interesting stories behind that. There were! I’ve been suppressing them for years. Time to share…
Quick observations from owning a VW bug:

- If the stick shift snaps off at the base of the floorboard you can still drive by using a screwdriver (it just makes for really small gear changes)

- The fact that the gas gauge isn’t very accurate at the bottom end doesn’t lend itself well with my lack of wanting to fill the gas tank up until the last minute. I distinctly remember passing six gas stations, crossing a large suspension bridge, driving down a long levy in the pouring rain and then promptly running out of gas and having to walk back.

- You can drive around town with the transmission stuck in third gear; you just have to accelerate REALLY high before letting out the clutch and chugging to a start

- Air cooled engines don’t do well in cold environments. I can remember several instances having to get out of the car and scrape ice off the carburetor…yes, the freakin’ CARBURETOR!!

- Making out in the VW was difficult at best. A removable stick shift helped…until you get busted by the cops and then forget that its not connected and try to drive while they are watching

- A rubber band makes a temporary accelerator cable in the event that you step on the gas and nothing happens because the cable has snapped

- If you go above the 120mph limit on the speedometer….it breaks

- VW bugs are so poor at ventilation that I’ve had ice INSIDE on the windows that I had to scrape off

- When the generator blows, you can coast and steer manually to try and get closer to somewhere that might fix it.

- Driving through the Mojave in CA could overheat and blow your engine. It’s a long lonely walk after that and you end up in one of those “auto shop” towns that exist only to screw you on fix it costs.

- “Tricking out” your VW and then trying to just go about your life is not a good plan if you live on the Coast of Oregon. You WILL get pulled over for no reason at all…

- Switching to a bigger engine and custom exhaust was handy for friends; they could recognize my car twenty blocks away.

- The battery cannot actually fall in the event that your floorboard rusts out; there is another chassis bar that prevents it from hitting the highway…

- Customizing and enclosing the storage compartment behind the back seat makes it handy to hide alcohol and other suspect materials from law enforcement; they needed a search warrant to open it.

In the end, the heater ran only in the summer time, never in the winter. The floorboards were rusting out. The air quality board here wouldn’t pass it due to the noise of the exhaust system and I was very happy to sell it to a 14 year old (ok, his father bought it for him).

A lot of adventures, misadventures, and memories were had with that damn car. VE out.

37 comments:

Serena Joy said...

God, I needed a few laughs today. Thank you! My first boyfriend had a VW Bug -- baby blue -- which was also my first experience driving a stick shift. He had a lot of those same problems you mentioned. It made for some interesting trips.:-)

VE said...

sj - Yes, never a dull moment driving a VW bug. It's been enough years that I can look back now with humor! Finally...

Anndi said...

So.. ice on the inside = beer cooler. Think about it.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

bet u miss that 50m miles a gallon now lol

Sans Pantaloons said...

Never had one but worked on them. Excellent air cooled engine in the back. Unfortunately never had any sexual intercourse in one, only 2CV front seat with the gear shift digging into my back. Memories are made of hot gritty sex, rampant in the full heat of lust, banging away between the desire of the decade, and the steering wheel. You have not lived until 12 comings in that situation... I miss that.

Jacki said...

Oh my God, that is the ugliest car I have ever seen! But what fun memories you have. But people today just don't get the same memories out of their cars as they did years ago. I mean, do people really have misadventures in a hybrid?

lime said...

so basically you're saying it's a smaller version of the old VW buses? we had one, gads the stories...but ya know, i loved that bus.

VE said...

anndi - That's a good point!

torrence - Yeah, I do miss the gas mileage...although I did have a beefy after market engine in it

sans - Well, of course, romping around in them was fun...but I think a big decked out Chevy Van would have been easier...

VE said...

jacki - No, I don't think there are as many stories about a hybrid.

lime - My dad had a VW bus. There are stories there too!

Marie said...

I love old cars, they have so much more personality than new cars. My first car was only three years younger than me. i had to keep a case of oil in the trunk and top it off every time I stopped somewhere. Fuses blew frequently, even at 75 mph on the freeway, and I'd have to stop and change them so I could get going again.

It looked like a garbage can, but it had a brand new engine in it. It was so much fun to race people in it because they had no idea what they were in for.

VE said...

marie - I just find it hard to visualize you out there hussling poor street kids to traffic light races...

Beth said...

Not a heck of a lot of good memories there (except for hiding the alcohol, etc.) but you certainly knew that car intimately. I actually loved the look of those VW Bugs.

Kurt said...

The bus and the bug had the same engine in them, so you bus owners, now you know why it couldn't climb hills.

VE said...

beth - Yeah, I've got some good memories too...they're just not as funny.

kurt - You got that right. Of course, I had a much bigger modified engine in that bug; it was quite fast...and with those wide wheels quite useless in the snow.

Yes, my name is Arizona said...

Too funny. My first vehicle was a bright red and white VW Bus with red, white and blue curtains. Seriously. I was totally popular in school because of that thing. NOT. But i loved it and it hauled a ton of stuff.

Anette said...

When I was 12 my family had a red beetle, just like the one on the photo. We went on holiday to Denmark in it, and had to pack our stuff in carrierbags to make it fit under the front of the car. (only 2 pair of jeans, 1 pair of sandals, 4 pair of t-shirts and so on per person) Did I mention there was 6 of us? Mum, dad, 2 sisters and a brother. Remember that little room in the back of the car? That was my 8 year old brother's space. The tree sisters 11, 12 and 15 years old, sat in the back seat. Car safety wasn't such a big thing in 1981. We had to go by ferry too, and the paper sheet with the number 6 on in the window (showing how many persons in this car) really embarassed a poor 12 year old girl!
That was my sharing concerning this subject!

VE said...

arizona - Wow, the total hippy van. Yeah, I can see how driving up in a VW bus to school would not be popular...

anette - Thanks for sharing. Wow, your brother in that back space? Crazy. That's a lot of people in a VW for sure and that front storage area wasn't real deep so practically nothing fit in it. Too funny.

Alan Smithee said...

More VW bashing. What is your problem, anyway?

EmmaK said...

the heater running only in summer, might be quite useful if you get the chills after a coke bender maybe....
I don't care how faulty this car was it is so so cool and I hate the new Beetles in comparison.

VE said...

alan smithee - Good one...

emmak - Yeah, it's like they tried to make them too cute

Anonymous said...

VW's are so unique and so fun - what other car can offer such entertaining tales of the road?

dawn224 said...

hee hee. I never had one, but my friend Rachel did - I'm sending this to her now.

VE said...

anonymous - There aren't a lot of cars that you can do such simple temporary repairs to; that's for sure.

dawn224 - All former VW owners will know exactly what I'm talking

Kelley said...

In highschool a freaky weirdo chick that would turn into one of those 'shabby chic' morons, had an orange VW like that.

She painted BEES on it and then put in CURTAINS!

Matt-Man said...

I would have kept it. Old Bugs rock. Cheers VE!!

VE said...

kelley - VE does not do curtains. Period.

matt-man - I know, I know. I thougth about it but didn't want to just leave it sitting around and there was never enough garage space.

Mrs. R said...

I see they haven't improved things much in 50 years. The first car I ever bought was a 2001 VW Bug. The weather stripping melted off and the transmission got stuck in park on my way to work one day. Good times.

But I still love that car.

Maureen said...

I LOVE that car! But I too can attest to it's failings... in the 70's we had a VW 1/2 ton truck. That's right 1/2 ton. It was really small, but because of the way it was built witha low center of gravity, it could haul that much.

But when it was empty, it got sucked into Semis on the highway... gad that thing was a deathtrap.

VE said...

mrs. r - Glad to see they kept some of the breakdown traditions in the new line of VWs! Misery loves company you know.

maureen - Ha. I remember those VW pickups and they looked so much like a toy to me. I'm amazed they could haul that much...never knew that...I thought they'd tip over if you put in a single Lego in them...

yellojkt said...

Great post. I'm glad to inspire your. Any one of your stories beats all of mine. Those cars sure had personality.

Bunk Strutts said...

Hadda light blue '66 six-volt, with corrugated cardboard seat covers to keep the springs from poking you in the butt, and a racing stripe down the passenger side from when Pete Robinson puked before I could pull over.

Fun times.

VE said...

yellowjkt - No, thank you for rehashing all those memories!

bunk - Oh yeah, springs in the seat covers...forgot all about that! Yes, fun times.

G-Man said...

Remember that old Woody Allen Movie "Sleeper"?
After coming out of a 100 year old sleep, he found an old VW bug in a cave all dusty and covered with cob-webs!
He got in the car, and it started right up!!
hehehe....G

VE said...

g-man - I forgot about that scene. Classic...only the bug would do that. Of course the heat STILL wouldn't work...

leelee said...

My best friend had an automatic Orange VW bug. we had a lot of good times in that in HS. Did you know it is possible to put like 10 high school girls in there...oh of course you knew that!

VE said...

leelee - Not only is it possible, it's a personal fantasy!

CG said...

I have an Orange VW Beetle/Bug. Any1 else get fed up with the shifter grinding into reverse unless u r completely stopped?
Great fun tho'.