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).
you never want to hear from your mechanic:
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 cooler.
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 Ernest were/are??
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
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 service bays)
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
--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
And, this is sorta like the end of my
column so I'll stop here. Sorta.