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PRECIOUS METAL
Story by Lois Grace



I drove my '69 Beetle to work today. That normally wouldn't be a big deal, but driving Bogie again scared me. I live in a large (meaning huge), densely-populated (meaning over-settled) urban (meaning full of crazy people) area of California. Driving here has gradually gone from being a pleasant way to get around to a matter of survival. If you are to survive the ordeal of the highway here in California, you need the best machine you can find to protect you. The machine of choice is this paved-over valley is anything with 'SUV' in its name. Put 4 wheel drive, a fancy metallic paint job, and more doors than Let's Make a Deal on an ugly, overblown, glorified station wagon, and you'll have Yuppie Soccer Moms lining up by the dozen to buy it here. And, I suppose in one way (although I hate to admit it) they might be right: if you expect to share the road with these monstrosities, something similar would be required. It's not a nice feeling to face traffic littered with these behemoths driving a 40-year-old Volkswagen Beetle. Bogie doesn't seem to mind, but I do. He just doesn't have enough sheet metal between him and the gargantuan next to him.

It is amazing how precious your Daily Driver can become when you don't daily drive it anymore. To some hard-boiled vintage VW enthusiasts, Bogie has not nearly reached vintage status yet, and some of them doubt he ever will. His was the second year of a new design for the body style, and he sports mechanical improvements over the '68 and earlier models. But his look and the lack of things vintage cause these die-hards to scoff at such a car ever reaching the vintage plateau of, say, a split window Beetle. His look doesn't generally translate to 'vintage': he's got bigger fenders, bigger taillights, and just looks more modern than earlier Beetles. To the true elitist, Bogie isn't just non-vintage - he's a classic example of how VW ruined the Bug. It goes without saying that I do not agree with these folks in any way: all things are old if given enough time! I must point out here that Bogie hit his 40th birthday in April this year. My brother's Model A coupe was 30 years old when my dad bought it in the early 60's. No doubt there that the Model A is vintage and collectible, why not my Beetle too?? I think it's because there is a snobbery that dictates what will and will not become collectible.

East coast VW fans are well aware of the value of 'newer' Volkswagens. Water-pumpers and Super Beetles share turf space at East Coast VW shows with Split Beetles, Barndoor Buses, and other early lovelies. This is a phenomenon that is so rare out here on the West side of things that it is practically unheard-of. VW show fans in California walk right past boxes of 'new' VW parts at swap meets, and snicker at a Golf or Rabbit daring to enter a show. I know what that's like, I used to do it myself. Now that I am a Golf owner, this disparity shines in a different light. 'Newer' VW owners exist in a sort of limbo, a netherworld of belonging to neither vintage nor true New Beetle groups. It's a lonely life. Parts are not readily available at VW dealers or auto parts stores for these newer VW's, and they are not old enough yet to be offered by (or profitable for) aftermarket sellers. We outfit our late-60's and early 70's VWs with used parts we are lucky enough to find at swap meets. And yet thousands of these 'mid vintage' Beetles are still on the road. Something that tenacious deserves vintage status, don't you think?

At the first meeting of the year, our club always makes note of which VW model year has now become vintage. Back in the year 2000 it was the 1975 VW model year. Our president's announcement of this brought groans from many of our members. Actual, audible groans! Snobbery in action again. And these are nice people who would never dream of hurting anyone's feelings! A few years ago I would have been among them. But I have seen the error of this thinking (as well as having been the owner of such a 'new' Bug myself, not to mention the even more snubbed Golf) and this issue deserves a second look. Don't the people with Super Beetles, and fuel injection, and auto stick transmissions love their VW's the way we 'vintage people' do?? Don't they lavish the same care and attention and devotion on them the way we do to ours?? Don't they get the same thrill from seeing their car win an award?? Come on, people! There is room enough in this hobby for everyone! Give them some credit! Their VWs are just as precious to them as ours are to us! Just because it doesn't have a split windshield or rear window, just because it has a synchromesh tranny or air conditioning doesn't make it worthless. It makes it different than ours. But different doesn't mean any less precious.

Just think, there is going to come a day when Rabbits, Dashers, and Jettas are going to be 40+ years old. (shush up, none of that snickering now) Whether that day will see these cars in vintage shows alongside the Things and Hebmullers and Split Windows is something we will all have to wonder about until it finally gets here. I am not suggesting that all VW shows everywhere should have classes for every VW from 1949 to the present day. What I do think should happen is an attitude adjustment, for every VW fan who thinks that the two can't coexist peacefully and readily with each other. NO Volkswagen owner should be made to feel that their particular car of choice is unworthy, for any reason. We're in the same Family, remember?

VolksWoman

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