is happening to me? The older
I get the more I end up amazing myself.
First it was Vernon's restoration
('A TRUCK?' they said. 'Why do
you want to do that?'), then the GTi
came home with me (after I'd said
that nothing VW made with a radiator
would ever interest me). Now,
I find myself longing for another
project, another challenge, another
goal. But not just ANY goal:
I want a Type III. I want a Fastback
or Squareback. (My longing hasn't
narrowed itself down to just one yet)
I don't understand this: when
I bought the GTi it seemed like a
normal, sane thing to do. I
wanted to save my '69 Bug from the
perils of traffic here in California,
and I wanted something with a bit
more punch. It didn't hurt that
the car was brilliant red, had A/C,
and more horsepower than all three
of my air-cooled VW's put together.
It was a natural purchase -
since I am not planning on ever being
middle aged (I plan to go right from
the bloom of youth to incredible old
age, like redwood trees, cheese, and
fine wine), I couldn't even call it
a Mid-life Crisis. It just WAS. But
this sudden urge for the much-maligned
Fastback (or Square, don't forget)
has taken me by surprise.
It all started innocently enough.
I was driving to work and a white
Fastback pulled out in front of me,
being driven by one of those baseball-hat-backwards
Teenage Persons. The car looked
original (in other words, not waxed
or necessarily painted) and lowered,
and had a huge stinger out the back
end. And, catching a glimpse of that
car and its stinger, I was in love
again. Why? I have no idea,
who knows why these things happen?
It bleated noisily off into the distance
ahead of me while my mind wandered.
My chance encounter with the Fastback
had jerked some long-forgotten, primal
memory back into my brain. I
had always had a soft spot for these
two models but when the time came
for a VW of my own, I thought a Bug
would be a more practical purchase.
So I bought Bogie, my '69 Beetle and
put my Type III dreams away.
The years in between then and now
were filled with single cab restorations,
Beetle convertible restorations, engine
rebuilds, valve jobs, and Saab maintenance.
There just wasn't a lot of time left
over for nourishing secret dreams.
But the white Fastback with the stinger
awakened them all.
I have always thought of the Type
III as the 'forgotten child' in the
VW family. It seemed to me that
these cars just appeared on the scene
when new, and then when no one bought
them they faded gently away, never
to reach true collectible status among
the VW hobbyists. They were
driven by little old ladies with blue
hair (who had bought them new), or
Teenage Types similar to the one I
had seen that day (because they were
cheap to buy). Just exactly
why they weren't that popular remains
a mystery to many others and me:
they seem so practical. Who
wouldn't love a tiny station wagon?
OK, if you are snorting over that,
who wouldn't love a sporty-looking
little fastback? Maybe it was
the flattened 'pancake engine' or
the fact that this car looked nothing
like the beloved Beetle who had taken
the world by storm. It was also
not as spacious as the venerable Kombi
or Deluxe Bus, so those who wanted
room passed the Type III over when
shopping for a new family car. Who
knows? But they hold a special
place with me, in large part because
no one else seems to want them.
I had always been a bit guilty about
wanting a Type III. I think
it had to do with the fact that it
was hard to admit that I really wanted
something no one else did. But
I'm beyond that now. When my
GTi arrived it opened new vistas for
me. It wasn't air-cooled, but
that was all right! It had air
conditioning, but that was OK too!
And, I could actually feel OK about
wanting a Type III! I didn't
have to make excuses any more.
'JUST DO IT', screamed my Brain. So,
just for fun, I found one in our paper
here for what I considered a very
reasonable price. In fact, the
seller's asking price was less than
one of the last repairs I had done
on my Saab. Gee, that's strange:
Type III owners don't seem to think
their cars are worth very much.
There was still the very sticky question
of getting my idea past The Boss.
I very hesitantly threw the idea out
to my better half, Rob, one evening:
ME: 'Dear, wouldn't
it be fun to hear the pitter-patter
of little radials on the driveway
ME (pressing on):
'I said, I need something to do. It's
been a whole year since I bought the
HIM (glaring): 'OH
NO. You ARE kidding, right?'
No, I wouldn't joke about something
like this. I'm serious! Listen to
HIM (with hands over his ears):
'BLAH BLAH BLAH!! I CAN'T HEAR YOU,
NAH NAH. CAN'T HEAR YOU, BLAH
And it went on for a bit like this.
Once I actually got him to hear
what I wanted, he did what I expected
him to do: he gave me that OH
MY GOSH SHE'S DOING IT AGAIN look.
Never mind that I don't know a thing
about Type III's, not even what years
they were made! But I didn't
know much about convertibles either
when I bought Oscar. Being the vintage
enthusiast I am (and having a late
model VW to play with when I get crazy),
I would probably try to find an early
Type III, not the later versions.
Didn't these cars morph into that
411 somewhere down the line?
Don't Type III's have that notorious
'pancake engine' - hard to work on
and known for overheating due to its
poor air circulation? Don't
you think I should know a little bit
MORE about these things if I'm going
to lust after one? I have since
been enlightened about Type III's,
courtesy of fellow VVWCA club member
Larry Edson. I found out that
the early Type III's were blessed
with carburetors (I did know that
I didn't want to have to deal with
the infamous fuel injection), and
that disk brakes were standard on
most Type III's. While I have
a long way to go to even be slightly
knowledgeable about these cars, this
is a start. I no longer feel
guilty about liking them either.
I think it's because I always seem
to be hooked on something a bit 'offbeat'.
I've always wanted what others
didn't - and if you talk to
any VW fan, they will probably tell
you that the Type III is low on their
list, unless of course you were giving
away a Notchback (sold only in Canada
and Europe), which, for some reason,
is a Type III that everyone wants.
I also have no problem in being 'different'
and don't much enjoy going along with
the crowd. I'm sure I get this
from being my father's daughter:
Dad sure loved the oddball vehicles
(when we were kids he'd buy 'different'
cars, just because he'd 'never had
one'). After all, it was my
dad that bought Vernon instead of
a 'normal-looking' pickup!
What surprised me about wanting one
of these for myself was the fact that
I can now actually visualize it happening.
I think it's great, but Rob is doing
what he usually does when I tell him
about these fantasies of mine:
he's wishing I'd just visualize owning
a Ferrari 599 GTO instead.