The Story of Cloudy
upon a time
.. Okay, fine, it wasn't
once and there was lots of time.
Cloudy is a Marina blue 1971 Super Beetle.
Not sure where her beginnings are, I
think in Texas, probably somewhere before
that but where I knew her from was when
she was owned by a musician. Apparently,
they had lots of adventures, including
a slide down a mountain side. She donated
her engine to another little Super Beetle,
he was Clementine orange and his name
was Sonny Reign. For years after that,
she sat in the field by the bug-barn
at the farm.
owner passed away, it was after that
when she came to me. Cloudy was quite
the mess. Despite the obvious absence
of an engine, she was in dire need of
some TLC. First, though, she needed
to be brought in out of the pasture.
All four tires had been flat for years
but a little air made them round again.
strap was attached to the rear bumper
and a lawn tractor was commandeered
to drag her out of her slumber. "Ugh!
Won't budge", "okay, let's
get a big stick and pry her out of the
indentions in the ground from the tires
Little more little more! Whew!"
"Okay, get back on the tractor,
pull!!!! Yay!!" "Okay, let's
hook up to the front bumper now."
want me to pull it through where???
Will we fit? Okay, here goes
success!" "Now you want to
go where?" "Seriously?"
"What about that fence?" "And
that other car!" "Eesh!"
"Okay, I'll try." "Yay!
I didn't wreck anything!" "Whew!
Glad that is over!" And
after much grunting, groaning and sweat,
Cloudy was out of the pasture and in
front of the shed where she would receive
her new engine. The game plan was to
go to the farm and put the engine in
with the help of Pop. (Pop was my adopted
dad) He and I worked on Sonny so I had
no doubt that we could put Cloudy together.
But something got in the way
sudden decline of his health. So, Cloudy
continued to sit in front of the shed
several more months.
Eventually it was decided that a relative,
who knew of a mechanic in another town,
over a hundred miles away, I might add,
would put the engine in. So, the day
finally came when this relative went
out and put Cloudy on a trailer and
took her there. I was told that one
of the tires was flat. How can that
be? They are brand new! So,
Cloudy was at the shop. But suddenly
there was a problem. The mechanic wouldn't
commit to a time, wouldn't commit to
a cost, wouldn't even return a call!!
After much stressing and fretting, I,
along with a couple friends, drove 5
1/2 hours to rescue Cloudy. When we
arrived, she was sitting behind a fence,
one (new) tire flat. With the help of
the non-committal mechanic, we got her
loaded onto the trailer, strapped the
engine on the front of the trailer and
off we went.
had to stop at the local MVD to title
this car. The law in this state only
gives you 90 days from the date on the
sale papers to get it transferred over
to the new owner's name. I had already
attempted to do that but didn't have
the car to show the MVD in the original
town. Anyway, it was decided that since
it was "sorta" along the way,
we'd stop and get it done. The MVD agent
came out to inspect the VIN, then, in
the end, I was given a title. Okay,
that dilemma is fixed. We
then stopped at the local Discount Tire
company and got the tire fixed. I think
what happened was when the relative
went to load the car onto the trailer,
he accidently kicked the valve stem
and broke it thereby creating the flat.
We got some real nice service and a
little "bug" conversation
with the store manager. After the repair,
we were jettin' down the highway with
Cloudy on the trailer. "Bet she
hasn't flown that fast in a while!"
mechanic that I located, with a little
help from my friends, to help me get
this little car back together, was north
of one of the biggest cities in the
state and we hit that city at rush hour.
Holy Moley! Bumper to bumper, three,
four, five lanes of traffic!! I think
I lost 10 years off my life. But we
made it. This
mechanic was the "man of my dreams".
He was a certified mechanic but more
importantly, he was a Volkswagen mechanic
from decades ago. Yay! We unloaded Cloudy
and the engine in the dark, visited
with the Mechanic for a couple minutes
then hit the road again to go home.
Talk about tired! Over 11 hours on this
little venture and I was ready to call
it a day!
LAW BEGINS ITS REIGN
In the meantime, the Mechanic put the
engine on the bench and began the process
of cleaning out the cooling tin and
other things. He found the belt on the
pulley was extremely tight, not a good
sign. The plugs were fouled. He found
what it appeared as some sort of STP-like
fluid was in the crankcase. "Bet
that's been in there a while".
He used starting fluid to start the
engine then, after getting things connected,
he checked the compression. The engine
that Pop was sold as a "slightly"
used engine was apparently an engine
that someone else had turned in as a
much discussion, it was sadly decided
that I was in over my head and it would
be best to cut my losses and bail on
the project. It was agreed upon that
the Mechanic would put things together
so as to get the best money back out
of it and I would make it worth his
made a trip to the city to have further
discussions and to see the progress.
The Mechanic had the engine in the car.
When I arrived, the deck lid was off
and work was being done.Then
I learned the one thing no Volkswagen
owner ever wants to hear- there was
a fire. The day before, after putting
in a new fuel pump, he started it up
and the hoses blew off then it caught
fire. For some reason, the car rolled
out of the shop, the Mechanic had a
starter button connected to the car
and was holding onto it like a dog on
a leash as the car began rolling out
of the shop. He could just imagine it
rolling into the property across the
street and burning the place down. He
had a fire extinguisher and quickly
put it out. No damage, believe it or
not, unless you consider the fuel line
and filter that melted.
Mechanic did a lot of little things
to Cloudy and when I saw it, I was amazed
at the improvement in appearance. The
Mechanic started it up and oh, my goodness,
it sounded sooooo good! The throaty
muffler gave it a very beefy sound.
He said he has driven it around the
block and it drives and shifts good.
The Mechanic replaced the master cylinder
and the wheel cylinders so the brake
system worked great. The
Mechanic pointed out a glaring problem:
The VIN on the title didn't match the
VIN on the car. The first digit had
been left off. Oh, that is just great.
I called my local MVD office after going
home to see what I needed to do. A month
later I returned to the city to take
care of the problem. We put the tow-bar
on the car and dragged Cloudy down to
the local MVD. The place was packed.
We had to go around the parking lot
twice to try to find some place to park!
Finally, found a spot on the street.
We took a number and waited well over
an hour before it was our turn. My number
was called so walked over to the window
and a young girl asked how she could
assist me. I told her the problem and
she looked like a deer in the headlights.
Then she went for the supervisor.
manager at the MVD was real nice, shockingly
enough. These places are known for their
lack of, how should I say, manners,
tact and/or competency. She inspected
the VIN, then went into their database
and found out who made the error. (An
employee with little experience although
she'd received training) The manager
fills out all the paperwork, takes my
title and says it will be 6-8 weeks.
Terrific! We've already had it on the
market and even had someone interested
in it!! Talk about Murphy's Law being
in effect from the get-go!
drag Cloudy back to the Mechanic's place,
unhook from my bumper, took the tongue
off and then he backed it into the backyard
where it would be out of sight of "larcenous"
eyes. It was a real tight fit so the
Mechanic was inching it in, back and
forth back and forth into the corner
of the yard, when we both heard a metallic
thunk. Oh no. We check the clutch cable,
that wasn't it. The throw-out bearing
went out. Oh, that is just great. Now
the engine has to be pulled to replace
it! I've already dumped over a grand
in this project. I can't believe this!
I'm running out of daylight and I have
to head back north. We'll have to figure
this out later.
week or so later, I get a call from
the Mechanic. He pulled the engine and
found that the clutch that I had purchased
new wasn't the right one. It didn't
fit right with the pressure plate and
throw out bearing. I did some research
and learned that there was a little
difference between the parts of the
early 1971 and the late 1971. (sigh)
The Mechanic got it all put back together
and running again. I was dreading the
inevitable news of the new bill. I was
just happy that it was up and running
again. Then we got a call from the guy
that had test drove it right after we
put it on the market. He wants the car.
had to explain the situation with the
title. Surprisingly, he was cool with
that. He made an offer on the car. The
Mechanic called me with the information.
The interested party said he wanted
to look at the pan under the battery.
When he saw the small hole, he almost
bailed on the deal. After the Mechanic
soothed the interested man's concern
by lowering the price by 100 dollars,
the man gave a deposit to hold the car,
showing earnest in the deal. Now we
need to get that blasted title!!
PIECE OF INFORMATION
I was talking to the Mechanic on the
phone and told him that I had some more
parts to include with the sale of the
car. This included some maintenance
books. As we spoke, I mentioned one
of the books was the "How to Keep
Your Volkswagen Alive"- Idiot's
guide. Come to find out, this mechanic
actually had a part in writing this
book!! He was consulted in the chapter
on high performance. The author included
an illustration (later polished by the
publishers) that the Mechanic drew of
the ring function as well as mentioning
his name specifically. Well, how cool
continues to go by and the title has
not arrived. I get a call from the manager
at the motor vehicle department and
there's a problem. The VIN on the original
title is WRONG. Really!!! C'mon! Murphy's
Law continues to Rule. Now we need a
"level 3" inspection which
translates to "need a law enforcement
officer to read the VIN in all three
places on the car". Man, you have
got to be kidding. So,
I get on the horn and make phone calls
to the places the MVD Manager tells
me to call. The first one, I get voicemail,
still waiting for a call-back. Called
the second and they don't do them anymore.
Called state police and they don't accept
phone requests, you have to have MVD
do a digital request. Really??!
called the MVD Manager again and explained
what had transpired. She knew the one
inspector and said she would put in
a call, text and email to him to motivate
him to call me. And he did! He sounded
really cranky and skeptical. I explained
where the car was and when he asked
why I wasn't bringing it to him and
I told him that it was in the process
of being put together. I told him I
would drive down there then would have
the mechanic tow it to him. He said
since I was going to drive down then
he would save me a tow bill and go to
where the car was. Then he dropped a
. "make sure you
have all the documentation, proof of
ownership and title". What???!
explained to him that the MVD had the
title and other documentation. He said
that he can't do the inspection unless
I have the documents. I told him I would
get the documents and we set the appointment
for 2 weeks from the next day. Great.
called the manager at MVD and told her
what happened. She said don't worry,
she would call the guy up and explain
things to him. She calls me back a bit
later and said all is well, he agreed
to accept the scanned documents from
MVD and will complete the VIN inspection
as scheduled. (whew!)
day came to meet with the police to
inspect the car VIN. I arrived an hour
early (I hate being late) so I was able
to do some things, including start vacuuming
it out. The officer was late and I was
beginning to get worried "did he
forget?" Then just as I was calling
the MVD manager, he showed up. I was
expecting a very gruff individual looking
for any discrepancy possible but he
turned out to be pretty accommodating.
It took about 45 minutes or so for him
to do his inspection. (Part of that
was making sure the car wasn't stolen
and that I didn't have any warrants.)
Finally, he was on his way.
let me back up a little. The day that
I traveled to have this VIN inspection
meeting, I checked the email one last
time on my way out the door. Remember
the guy that wanted the car? He bailed
on the deal. (sigh) Okay, back to square
one. Now the waiting begins for the
corrected title. A
week has come and gone but no word on
the title. I called up the MVD manager
and she checks on it and said it will
be issued on Friday, two days from now.
That's great because now we have another
person interested in Cloudy and he has
put down a small payment to hold it.
Yay! Another week has come and gone
and still no title. I called the MVD
manager, left a message. The next day,
when once again, the title wasn't in
the mail, I called her and she actually
answered. And guess what? A new title
has NOT been issued!!! ARRRGGHH!!
checked in with the Mechanic, told him
what was going on. He hadn't heard from
the new potential buyer. (uh oh) But the
guy had put a deposit on it in cash so,
maybe he's just busy. When
I talked to the MVD Manager, I asked her
if perhaps I would be allowed to go to
the capital city and pick up the title
in person. She said she would send another
email and see if that's possible and then
get with me by the end of that day. End
of day came and went with no call. (sigh)
wish Murphy's Law would go live with someone
AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
afternoon I got a text from the Mechanic.
The potential buyer contacted him and
guess what?, he wants to pay for and
pick up the car! Tonight! And the title
can be sent to him once it comes in!
Oh WOW! That's the best news I've had
since, well, since a year ago! I see
light at the end of the tunnel! Still
time goes by. I called the MVD Manager
to see what was going on. She said that
it seems to be time to become the squeaky
wheel. She commended me for being so
patient through all this nonsense and
told me I need to call the governor's
office and talk to the director of the
motor vehicle division. And if not him,
the deputy director. She gives me the
number and tells me to let her know
what transpires. Great.
Mousy me is going to call the governor's
office and pitch a fit. Um hm.
put on my most stern voice and dialed
the number. Someone finally answers
and I tell them I want to talk to the
director of the vehicle department.
She patches me through to a line where
a woman says she's not in and to leave
a voice mail. Uh, NO. I dialed right
back and a different person answers.
Very sternly I tell her I want to talk
to the director! She said he wasn't
in but would put me through to the deputy
director (but not of the vehicle department
but the licensing department). He gets
on the line and I tell him I want to
know what is going on and I explained
the situation from the time I got the
title in Roswell to this point and expressed
to him that I wanted some answers. He
asked when I had the VIN inspected.
I told him January. He apologized then
told me the woman who was supposed to
be working on my case up and quit with
no notice and a stack of paperwork remained
on her desk! He said he would look into
it and be back to me by the end of the
day. An hour later I get a call from
another lady who explained she would
be handling my case. She asked me some
questions about emails and such between
the MVD in Rio Rancho and the Santa
Fe office. (yeah, all this is happening
in New Mexico) She also mentioned that
they were waiting for TEXAS to respond
to them admitting to their error all
those years ago. (Yeah, like that's
gonna happen.) Two
weeks came and went since all that and
still nothing. But my buyer took the
car. And he's not going to chop it up
but make it into a nice little car!
That made me smile.
decided to contact the lady at the state
department to see what the status was
on the title. She calls back and tells
me that either I or the MVD Manager
has to contact the state of Texas to
get this "acknowledgement letter"
that New Mexico wants in order to reissue
the title with the corrected VIN! "What??!
Seriously!". I said to the lady
"who am I to the state of Texas?
Why would they even talk to me ???"
She told me that the previous lady working
on this case had sent an email to the
MVD Manager stating that she or I had
to contact Texas and that there was
no reply to this email. I told her that
it we were told that it was not necessary
that Texas be involved, that it was
only a matter of reissuing the title.
I asked the lady if she would resend
that email to the MVD Manager and she
said "No, I'm sorry, my email is
full and I can't send or receive or
forward emails" Excuse me? LIAR!!!!
(okay, so I didn't say it out loud but
I didn't fall off a turnip truck this
then politely told her that I was now
getting unhappy and would call the MVD
Manager regarding this email. Next,
I went online and sent the state of
Texas an email with a brief description
of what I needed. The automated screen
said I would be contacted by phone to
resolve this issue or receive an email
within 3 days. Really? Grrrrrrr!
I hate Murphy!!!
get a call back from the MVD manger
and she is ticked! After some discussion
with her, I get the number to the director
over the director of MVD and I pitched
a fit. I told her what I thought of
her "person" who said she
can't send or receive email because
it's full. I also told her that I don't
work for the state and that I shouldn't
have to do the work of the Error Resolution
Department! This was at 2 minutes before
5 PM. She said she would be back in
touch with me in the morning.
sit back in my chair, drawing a deep
breath and wonder what's next. Then
I think "oh crud! I need to call
the man that bought Cloudy! He may think
I forgot!" So, I find his number
in my file and call him up. What a nice
man! Very patient. He said he'd rather
go to the dentist than to deal with
the motor vehicle department. (Personally,
I think I'd rather take a beating than
to go through this.) I assured him I
would keep him posted and he assured
me of his trust in what I was trying
to get done.
morning and afternoon came and went.
A bit before 3PM, I called the woman
who was supposed to call first thing
in the morning aaaaaand- I got her voice
mail. Okay, let's climb the ladder a
little higher. I called the MVD Manger
again and she gave me the number to
the Cabinet Secretary.
secretary to the Cabinet Secretary said
that he wasn't answering and offered
to send me to someone else (who, incidentally,
I've already gone over their head) and
I told her no, that I need to talk to
the Cabinet Secretary. She asked what
it was concerning. I already figured
out that if you didn't tell them the
whole story, they aren't going to understand
and I will end up in file 13. So, I
explained it to her. I told her all
of whom I had contacted and that I was
running out of time according to what
the law stipulates. She said she would
send a note to the Cabinet Secretary,
the MVD Director and the head of the
department (I assumed the person under
the secretary of the deputy director)
She said I would be contacted by morning.
little after 8:30 the next morning I
got a call. They will have that title
corrected and sent out by the end of
the week. I requested to be called when
it actually goes out. Half an hour later
I get a call from the Director who said
she wanted me to know that she hadn't
ignored me and that she knew I already
had received a call from the other person.
I reiterated that I wanted a call notifying
me of the actually mailing of the title.
between the two calls I get an email
from Texas. They said that the error
must have occurred before August 2000
when the last Texas title was issued.
I zipped them an email back telling
them that I'm sure it was but as to
where it began is unknown. But I still
needed the acknowledgement of the error.
This afternoon I get a short note from
a different Texas employee telling me
that the number on the title that was
surrendered to their state and the paperwork
all match. And I should order a VIN
inspection of the vehicle. (really?)
With fingers on fire, I shot out an
email right back at her and explain
that yes, they match but it was WRONG!
And I already did all that and I already
TOLD YOU THAT! I sent them pictures
and the VIN inspection report. Good
grief! Doesn't anyone read anymore?
I continued my typing of this drama, I
become more and more concerned, "what
if the secretary to the Cabinet Secretary
doesn't check her email? What if it goes
unnoticed? I gotta call her!!!"
secretary did get the email and she forwarded
it to the lady who called the car a '72.
She assured me that she would contact
her again to make sure she understands
everything and does not make an assumption
which would send me spiraling in to the
pit of having to start this all over again.
This afternoon, as I sit in front
of a fire and ponder the events of the
day, something stuck out in my mind-
that first call this morning the one
from that woman, she said the car was
a 1972 and I corrected her by saying
it was a 1971- why did she say that?
Oh, crud! From August 1971 to July 1972
the first three digits of the VW vin
is 112! Does she still not understand
that the error was the first digit,
a one, was omitted??? Is she going to
assume that the car is a 1972 and send
me a title with THAT error on it???
I got back on the computer and send
photos to the secretary to the Cabinet
The next day as I am thinking of nothing
at all, my phone starts ringing and
it is an Austin, Texas number. "I
don't know anyone in Austin. As I am
staring at the screen of the ringing
phone, I decided to answer it. It's
the first lady from the Texas DMV that
emailed me!!! What was exciting is that
the pictures and inspection that I sent
them yesterday motivated them to agree
to send me an acknowledgement of error
letter!!! Wow!!! Maybe Murphy is tired
of tormenting me on this car!
letter came within minutes of the conversation
so I forward it to the secretary of
the Cabinet Secretary to distribute
to the other officials that I had been
dealing with. I got an email back from
her stating that she had, indeed, distributed
next morning, I got a call from the
woman who implied that I was stupid.
She said that the title was going out
in the mail. Has the war finally been
won? Has there been a victory? We'll
know if that title shows up in the mail
on Monday. Hoping
against hope, I went to the post office
on Saturday after work. "could
it actually arrive in one day?"
Do you know how hard it is to wait for
time to go by so as to be sure not to
go too early? Eesh. Finally, I went
to the post office. "Do I dare
to believe that it's there?" Better
prepare for the worse. I
slip the key into the box aaaaaaand-
It's there!! It's actually there! Oh,
wait, is Murphy playing a cruel trick
on me? I held my breath and looked at
the pertinent information, is the VIN
correct? Yup. Did they put the correct
year of the car on it? Yup. Yay!!!!!
The nightmare is over! Whoo Hoo!!
THE END OF AN ERA
A final note to all those who have the
privilege of owning one of these little
cars, which we all know it comes with
much frustration and education, my advice
is to enjoy it while you have it and
teach others. There are fewer and fewer
of these little cars left on the road
and even fewer available to rebuild.
love for these Bugs began with a ride
in this little car and now, after the
love and loss of Sonny Reign and the
attempt to regain it through Cloudy,
the love affair comes to its end with
the sale of Cloudy.