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Story by Lois Grace

Sometimes, I amaze myself. But please don't think me conceited. No, the reason for this marveling at myself is the fact that a few years ago I became something I never thought I ever would: the owner of a water-cooled Volkswagen. I know I've written about this phenomenon before but I still find it incredible. My like for this car is turning into something deeper.........could it be love?

The first 18 months had been great - but it was also an adjustment for me, owning a "new" VW. I like to think it's been an adjustment for him too, since it's been over 3 years and he still doesn't like any name I've tried to hang on him. I think this has to do with the fact that he's still used to thinking of himself as a CAR. It is also obvious that my little red friend and I are still getting used to each other. He did not spend the first 7 years of his life with someone who babied him, exclaimed proudly over his achievements, or treated him as if he were special in any way. His original owner thought he was buying a brand new Golf GTi. He didn't know he was adopting a friend. I forgive him that as not everyone can be as enlightened at we VW people. So, my obsessive behavior is probably a bit confusing to the little guy.

I'm just not used to my cars being CARS - they become like pets to me and are treated that way. I always thank my "boys" after a trip out, for bringing me home safely; the first time I did this to the Golf he seemed to pull up into our driveway, thinking to himself "Thanks? What's that for? I just did what I was supposed to do". I got out and peered curiously at his blunt, red face. His oversized, headlight eyes stared back at me, trying not to let his personality shine back at me. (it didn't work) Shortly after this, he found he could get quite a bit more attention from me (and various service-oriented people) if he just broke something now and again (I think this was just the way he was used to living his life). For the first few months I had him, various and sundry things would merely cease to function, causing all sorts of various reactions by me. The items ranged from the sublime (the first entirely MATCHED set of 4 Michelin radials the car had ever had - I've got a thing for fresh rubber) to the ridiculous (a perfectly good, barely-used, only-7-years-old, $825 "airbox" which of course the car could not function without and also cost more than the INSURANCE on my two vintage VWs for a year..............). And through each mechanical failure of this "wear cycle", I happily (more or less) motored on (when he was willing) and gave him the best possible care. I told myself that these little "flukes" were due to the fact that he hadn't gotten the very best of care and he was due. My hunch proved correct - once all the "little stuff" was taken care of, he has become totally charming, as expected.

All of you water-cooled VW drivers out there are probably - right now - thinking to yourself what an idiot I am. You already know the joys of these cars. I grew up with Volkswagens, and believe me; in my family no REAL VW ever had a radiator!  My father later saw the error of those ways and added two brand new VW diesels to his garage. With the peppy demeanor of my new GTi, my better half thought it was perfectly ridiculous for me to want to add more horsepower to the already-respectable pep that the car had. I say the more, the merrier! This car was already fun, couldn't it be MORE fun if I added just a touch more zoom? And so it was: after hanging on the new manifolds and the new downpipe and the new exhaust, it WAS more fun. With a few more horses under the hood, my appreciation for this car grew even more.  With the addition of the extra zoom, additional stopping power was in order so I added a set of vented rotors up front. I figured it might be a good investment someday, should I ever decide to actually stop driving this car. For now, these improvements will do just fine. I could, however, be talked into any other little goodie I can find that might appeal to me AND the GTi.

For the first time since buying my car, I had occasion today to fold the rear seat down. This is not a big deal, but the amount of space back there IS a big deal. The cargo area created by folding the seat down is immense. I had a friend comment once that you could probably carry a bathtub in the trunk if you wanted to. With the seat folded down you could not only haul a bathtub, but probably the sink and toilet to go with it, if you had a mind to. I put 4 VW wheels (with radial tires attached) back there, and had room to spare. I could probably have fit another 4 tires and wheels in if it had been necessary. (Remember, I am first and foremost a VW PICKUP owner, and have gotten used to enormous cargo areas, say, about nine feet by 5 feet)

I think my car is finally warming up to me too. Every single attempt I made to name him went down in flames. Every name with reference to the fact that he was bright red sounded silly, hung on such a tailored little man. I gave up trying to pick a name for him, and waited for him to suggest something he could live with. Meanwhile, I kept thinking he needed a small, uncomplicated name to match himself and his quite abbreviated rear end styling.  I had been calling him Buzz since he was such a buzzy little guy, but it soon became only another temporary name. Then, this past week I went out and he looked at me and said GUS. For some reason, Gus has stuck. Short and abbreviated, just like him. Poor little fella, had to wait 3 years to get a name. But I still say it's his own fault for not telling me sooner.

And so on it goes, life with Gus. Some people I know couldn't wait till they grew up and got a real car. While I am very glad that I can say that I am now a grownup, I am also equally glad to be able to say that I haven't completely grown out of VWs, no matter what some misguided car people say.  And, now that I have grown up I am finding I have a space in my heart for ALL VWs. Even small, red, uncomplicated VWs.


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