you never want to hear from your mechanic:
THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
some reason, various disconnected
Volkswagen thoughts fly through my
brain every day. Some of them stick
in clumps, and a story is born. Others
fly around in there, not connecting
to anything but repeatedly bashing
themselves inside my head till I write
them down. So, here's my list of Random
Thoughts and Observations:
It's impossible to drive anonymously
in this Valley in a Beetle:
Most of this is due to New Beetle
hysteria - people just notice the
Real Thing more than they used to.
Bogie gets more looks now and I enjoy
the attention. But for those of us
here in California wishing to remain
just another commuter on the road,
perhaps a Real Beetle is not the car
Bugs can be scary to drive:
This is not due to my car having any
faulty engineering: the brakes work
fine, the steering is tight and the
engine is nearly new. No, this is
because NOT driving my now-classic
'69 Beetle has suddenly made him worth
much more to me. He was always precious,
but he was my daily driver. Driving
him every day sort of ratcheted his
worth down a notch or two. Tailgaters
and the ever-present stunt drivers
really annoy me now. Not that I wasn't
annoyed by these idiots to begin with.
Bugs are noisy: Bogie
has various little rattles and clunks
(he does have over 200,000 miles on
the clock) and the engine makes quite
a bit of noise on its own. To hear
his nice little stereo, I had to put
bigger speakers in back and an amplifier
in front. But that's OK; his voice
is part of his charm.
Contrary to popular belief,
Bugs have wonderful heaters: At
least in California they do. One day
it was 32 degrees out when I left
for work and before 2 miles had passed
I had enough heat in the car to burn
the side of my foot. I have never
understood why folks whine about VW
heaters being so awful: all of mine
have always worked just fine. Of course,
32 degrees is not 32 BELOW so in colder
climates I'm sure it would be harder
to warm up. But I tend to believe
that a VW heater in good condition
and working properly would at least
keep you comfie. (and FED: Bogie's
heater could probably cook a turkey
on the floor.)
Beetle Prejudice is Alive and Well
in the Bay Area: Believe
it or not, there are still some drivers
who get really bent when they have
to follow a Bug. They are still laboring
under the illusion that to be a Bug
is to be slow. Not true! Of course
even if they could see all the Gene
Berg goodies on and in my engine they
would most likely not be impressed.
But as they say, the proof is in the
pudding. And, NEENER NEENER to that
woman in the Nissan that found it
so degrading to have to drive behind
What's with these SUV's anyway? I'd
like to know what's up with the massive
glut of SUV's around here. They're
proliferating faster than a herd of
cockroaches. They're ugly, the 4-wheel
drive never sees any action, and they
guzzle gas worse than an early-60's
Lincoln. So why do soccer moms think
they need these things to haul one
stroller and a toddler around? If
all you want to do is drive safely
in the wet and cold, heck, a VW can
handle that. I say it's high time
we exterminate these 4-by-horrors
and get some REAL Bugs back on the
road (pun intended).
I've never seen one fail like this
These usually last forever...
What did you DO to this?
Nah, it won't be that expensive to fix...
It's time. Don't fight it...
Sorry, that part isn't made anymore...
I've got some good news, and I've got
some bad news...
While we're in there, we might as well
replace the _______________.
(fill in the blank, but be sure to make
it something obscure and expensive)
New Beetle Thought:
Will someone please clue in all the New
Beetle owners who insist on cramming an
entire BOUQUET into the bud vase? To vintage
aficionados everywhere, a bud vase is
not news: most of us have been showing
our cars with these for years. But to
a new Volkswagen owner, this must be a
real novelty. Someone please tell them
though that it's called a BUD VASE for
a reason: you put a single BUD into it,
not the entire contents of the florists
Concours de Elegance Car shows:
A few years ago, San Jose broke into the
hoity-toity world of the Concours car
show. I guess that someone thought that
now that we had a (supposedly) world-class
pro ice hockey team, we should probably
enjoy a creme-de-la-creme car show as
well. After entering Vernon in his first
Concours experience a few years ago, he
has been invited to others in the Bay
Area, including the prestigious Blackhawk
and Silverado shows. But you don't merely
ENTER a Concours: you have to submit an
application and photo of your motorcar,
to be approved by the judging committee
as worthy of acceptance into the show.
The first time I did this I found it all
hilarious - calling Vern a motorcar was
like calling a Coke and fries High Tea!
When they returned my car show number
to me, saying they were pleased to inform
me that he'd been accepted for the show,
I was delighted and secretly amused. I
couldn't wait to see their face when this
motorcar showed up. Best of all, the funky-looking,
inexpensive truck from Germany has won
awards twice at this show.
Does Volkswagen even care:
that sometimes, the VW they are helping
keep alive and well is not quite new,
and certainly not vintage? I swear, I
will never understand this one. Try to
find genuine VW replacement parts for
a 1990 Golf GTi (the only water-cooled
VW I know anything about and that knowledge
is limited). One would think that the
GTi would not be hard to keep equipped
with replacement shift lever boots, seat
back handles, headliners (a sore point
in particular for THIS GTi driver) and
the like. But VW has other plans for their
dealerships and we mere Volkswagen owners
can only guess what that might be. It
certainly isn't selling parts to help
keep our cars running and looking great.
When trying to acquire the now-defunct
headliner for my GTi recently, I was told
that VW concentrated their parts efforts
into providing parts necessary to keep
your car running, not generally a piece
considered cosmetic. Well, I don't know
about YOU, but if my headliner is falling
down around my ears and I can't get a
new one it won't matter HOW great my car
runs. I won't be driving it! So, I have
a suggestion for VWOA: get your act together
and keep our OEM parts available for a
while! It'd be nice to have them accessible
for, say, the first 100,000 miles, or
10 years. Whichever comes first.
What I've been hearing: My years
within this great VW hobby have produced
some really fun quotes from notable people
in my life. It has also generated some
hilarious stuff from UNnotable people
I had the misfortune to cross paths with.
For example (and please keep in mind that
while most are not exact quotes, the essence
of the statement is still as correct as
my memory will allow):
I'm sure it's nothing serious.
--My husband, Rob Grace, circa May, 1978
during the Vacation From Hell. This comment
was heard as he was sitting in a dead
VW Bug on the side of Interstate 80 45
miles west of Laramie, Wyoming, in a thunderstorm.
A replacement fuel pump solved the problem.
THAT problem. The '69 Beetle in question
continued to spazz out reliably on nearly
every mile of a 1600- mile journey.
Hey, it's REALLY fun to drive and I like
the way people look at it!!!
--My VW-hating sister Janice Gussin, after
driving her daughter's '74 Sun Bug for
a week or so. Janice has since seen the
error of her ways and claims she loves
the Beetle now.
--Some kid at a car show a few years ago,
after finding out my truck's name. I wonder
if kids nowadays even know whom Vern and
GOD, I just love doing stuff like
--The artist who restored Vernon back
to new, Garland Rush, after looking him
over carefully to give me an estimate
of the cost of the work.
ARE YOU SERIOUS??
--Me, after being told how much Garland's
work was going to cost. (I think I recovered
nicely though once I realized exactly
how much Garland loved doing things like
Why on earth do you want to spend
$300 to fix rust under the windshields
of a $100 truck???
--The owner of a body shop I mistakenly
contacted for advice on repairing Vernon,
before I found Garland Rush. (I have so
far resisted the urge to drive Vern over
there now and parade him before the open
OH GOOD GRIEF.
--My mother, Jeanne Kile, who uses her
favorite saying with regards to anything
GEEESH!! For that you could have sent
a kid to college!
--Dr. Robert Manly, my boss, after I told
him how much I'd spent so far to restore
Vernon. I think my next step will be to
send VERN to college.
WOW!! 36 horsepower!! How do you get
--car show spectator, after viewing Vernon's
mighty power plant
OH. I guess it's supposed to be sorta
like a PICKUP then, huh?
--car show spectator, at the same show,
after looking at Vernon's obviously PICKUP-type
And, this is sorta like the end of my
column so I'll stop here. Sorta.