always get sentimental this time of
year. If you know me well, you
know that I am by nature a sentimental
person (probably too much so for my
own good), but something extraordinary
happens each time this year that makes
me even more sappy. What is
it? VW show season. With
the coming of spring, VW fans in garages
all over the country begin to stir,
breaking out bottles of wax and wheel
polish, laundering the 'special rags'
saved just to detail a special car,
changing oil and adding this and removing
that and installing some more of those
and before you know it, were all at
shows drinking in the results of our
hard work. Call me sappy (its
been done before) but I get a bit
nostalgic every year right about now.
As I sit and write this, my club (the
Golden Gate Chapter of the Vintage
VW Club of America) is gearing up
for our annual VW Meet at Kelley Park
here in San Jose. This show
has grown from a very small local
event to a huge, 3-day extravaganza
attended by people from all over the
U.S. I joined the club in 1986,
right as they were preparing for this
same show. Of course when the
day came that year, Rob and I drove
Vernon (my 1959 Single Cab, who was
unrestored then and scary in all his
original-ness) out to Kelley Park,
to spend the day with some of our
new friends and their cars.
The show itself turned out to be perhaps
30-40 vintage Volkswagens; a good
percentage owned by club members and
the rest a few brought in by the public
who'd somehow found out we were having
a show that day. We did little
advertising other than show flyers
distributed to various VW businesses
in the area. There were no trophies,
no judging, and no swap meet.
What the show was - and remains today,
in large part - was a gathering of
VW friends who rarely saw each other
outside of club meetings. I
think this is the main reason why
I get so sentimental at our show now.
This huge event gives me the chance
to reconnect with people I don't see
any other time of year. Some
of my VW friends live on the other
side of the country, others I have
'met' only through email or phone
calls. The enormous number of people
I now call my friends is due directly
to this wonderful hobby we are involved
in, and even seeing them once a year
is better than not seeing them at
all. VW shows and events put
us all in one place at the same time.
What could be better than that?
I think I get sentimental about show
season because it also allows me to
actually enjoy driving my two oldest
Volkswagens. We generally don't
have severe winters here in California,
but the weather we do get doesn't
make for great vintage VW-ing.
I'm just one of those psycho-vintage-car-owners
who refuses to subject my babes to
wet pavement and flying goo.
I paid a lot for those paint jobs,
and I sure do hope they cover every
square inch of my cars, but I have
no desire to test that out by inviting
rust into anything they missed!
So, my three oldest cars spend most
of the winter indoors, covered up,
looking exactly like what they are
then: giant bookends.
Once the weather clears, its great
fun to fire them up and stretch those
tires with a short ride here or there.
But the best part of show season is
by far the people. I love showing
my cars, don't misunderstand me, but
the big deal now has become socializing.
Its kind of like it was in high school,
school itself wasn't BAD (I was also
one of those psycho kids who enjoyed
school), but the big thing was going
to school to hang out with your friends.
That's how I feel at a VW show.
I am surrounded by people who understand
how important this hobby is to me,
because it's that important to them
too. These people also tend
to think the same way I do, and don't
think it's strange to be in love with
a car. They understand how great
it is to see someone you only see
once a year, at that show. They also
understand the frustrations and rewards
of restoration, and most do their
own repairs so they also can relate
to any stories I might want to tell
of my own escapades with a wrench
(not that it happens that often).
We help each other solve problems
and refer each other to mechanics
and body shop people and other 'auto
artisans' that can help each of us
make our cars the best they can be.
No one thinks it strange to spend
$3000 on a round tool kit made to
fit inside your spare tire.
These VW people, my friends, are the
reason why I make such a point
to attend as many of these events
as I can. I simply enjoy their company
Sure, we admire each other's cars
and we trade tips and secrets.
But most of the time is spent sharing
what we've done during the year since
we've seen each other. At the
end of the day we know whose child
has started school, who's gotten married
(or divorced!), who has moved or bought
a new house or decided to sell the
one they have and go somewhere else.
Life constantly brings changes and
we catch up on that as we sit by our
cars and watch the crowds. We
chat and compare notes and become
comfortable with each other again.
And, if you're lucky like I am, this
is done over and over and over again,
all throughout the day with different
people. The cars are just the
catalyst, to get us all in the same
place once more. If you're really
lucky (again, like me), you find you
have friends that live a lot closer
than you ever expected. My email
friend Carla and I met for the first
time a few years ago and have met
each year since at Kelley Park to
enjoy the show and each other's company.
The amazing part of this friendship
is that we even get together when
there isn't a VW event to attend!
We live two hours apart, but somehow
that distance doesn't keep us from
having fun or seeing each other.
She is one of my dearest friends,
and if it weren't for the common bond
of Volkswagens, we never would have
So this year, as the show season begins,
go ahead and detail that VW.
Clean and polish and vacuum, and during
the process think about all the great
friends you've made in your years
in this hobby. Think of how
great it is to share this hobby with
people who care about it the way you
do, and how wonderful it'll be to
reconnect with all of them.
Think of all the people that will
be looking forward to seeing you again
this year. I'll bet you get
a little sentimental too.