My first personal encounter with an air-cooled VW happened this afternoon. I was on my way to make an exchange at a local restaurant due to an incorrect order. Upon my return visit I saw this light blue beauty taking off from my upcoming intersection. When it took a right into the next parking lot, I followed.
I was greeted by a nice lady who seemed thrilled when I asked her if I could photograph her bug. One of the first things she mentioned was that she purchased the vehicle new in 1970. She went on to proclaim that it had been a good reliable car over the years. Other than replacement parts and two coats of paint, it is all original. She also has had the same mechanic since she bought it. This man was the very first black man in Alabama allowed to work on Volkswagens. He worked at the first VW dealership here. Today his son continues his work but occasionally has to ask dad for some senior advice.
This particular coolie (that’s what I’ve decided to call air-cooled’s, now hush) is fitted with a carbureted 1.6L flat four. The boxer is matted to a 4-speed manual. When I exclaimed “Oh wow, it’s a stick!”, she quickly replied “But of course”. I did not know this woman but I was starting to like her. She told me that in our ice storm she had deflated the tires a couple of psi and gotten home no problem.
I began to wonder if this VW was ultimately the reason for the success at Porsche. When that nasty man ordered Ferdinand Porsche to build a car for the people all those years ago, did he have it right? Of course modern technology made strides in safety, performance, and effeciecny but maybe...just maybe Ferdinand had the base correct. After all, Porsche is still using the same basic layout eighty two years later.
The Beetle went on to become on of the most successful cars ever produced. We know it today as a FF econobox with a bit of character. Still, that hasn’t stopped it from doing incredible things.
I wish I had more time with this VW and nice lady. I am quite thankful for this piece of history that happened to roll my way. Here are the rest of the pictures:
P.S. If someone wants to share this with Jason Torchinsky (aka Torch), please do.