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Story by Lois Grace

OH NO. I've got it again. Sure, I've been sick before with this, but I've always recovered in fine form. This time, though, it feels different. It feels as if it's out of control. I've got THE BUG. Again.

When I restored Vernon, I figured I'd be happy with just finishing him. All I wanted was to see him whole again, resurrected to his original condition. OK, if he came out a bit better than original, so what, I wouldn't complain. I got all that, and more. Winning trophies didn't hurt either. I never entertained the idea of giving Vernon a sibling, not at that point. One vintage VW was enough for me. Then, a couple years after Vern was completed, I was still feeling pretty happy about all this. Until a trip to the mall. There, sitting in the parking lot while I waited for Rob to join me, I looked across the street and saw IT. It was a VW convertible, it was old, and it was for sale. Now, bearing in mind that I had NO intentions whatsoever of owning another car, I just went over to "look" at it. It looked fine from a distance, but upon closer inspection it was obvious it needed someone to care about it. Still, I had no desire at all to restore yet another vintage VW, and even more importantly, I had no MONEY to restore another vintage VW. Vernon had eaten up all my savings and I was still recovering. Still, this particular convertible called to me so I looked it over. The more I looked, the more this car fixed me with as pathetic a stare as it could muster. I called about it that night and drove it a couple days later, still never thinking I would actually buy the thing. It called to me to take it home, begged me to care about it, and like a fool, I listened. Within a week, it came home with me and became Oscar. Now, a couple years after this momentous occasion, I fear it is about to happen yet again.

As these things usually happen, I was driving along, minding my own business and there IT was. This time, It was a '67 Beetle, sitting in someone's driveway. I'd seen this car before - I'd been keeping an eye on it for a few years. It had sat covered up, in front of this particular garage, for years. As a matter of fact, it had been there so long that the canvas tarp covering it had rotted completely off of it the last time I'd seen it. Now, as I drove by, it was not in its usual spot but had been dragged (kicking and screaming by the looks of things) to the curb. On the front was a large white sign: FOR SALE - MAKE OFFER. Famous last words, right? Now, keeping in mind here that I do not WANT another car or another project right now, and knowing that my poor hubby would probably toss me out in the street if I showed even the slightest interest in this Bug, I did what any calm, responsible person would do: I made an immediate U-turn to go back and look at it. When I bought Oscar, I told Rob that it had followed me home - I doubted this explanation was going to work twice. Going back, the poor Bug did not look any better close up than it had from across the street. It was obvious that this Beetle would need some tender loving care.

It had been some sort of dark color, most likely blue, and looked as if it were now painted over with dark blue. The body itself was no great beauty, but neither did it seem rusted or abused. It looked remarkably whole, and mostly straight. The few small dents I saw here and there would be easily fixable. The bumpers were horrid. They looked as if they'd been taken off the car, set out to rust, then wrapped neatly around a small tree and reinstalled on the car. I couldn't imagine how they'd gotten into this terrible condition, still attached! The nose was straight and undamaged, and the car looked as if it were all there. Upon further inspection, I could find only one thing missing and that was one headlight rim. Other than that, all the important stuff was there: inside trim, '67-only backup lights, running boards, door handles, decklid, it was all there.

Looking inside, it had no interior to speak of, unless you want to count one back seat rest and numerous assorted unidentifiable front seat components, all laying in a jumble on the floor behind what would have been the front seats, if it had had any. I peered further inside, and noted the glove box door in fine shape, along with a stock-looking radio and the chrome dash trim. The speedo said three-thousand-and-something, and given the looks of this poor beast, I was not inclined to mistake those miles for original. It had no windshield, just an empty hole in front. The engine was in it, but I didn't look under the deck lid - sticking out in back were a couple of very sad-looking, rusty pea shooters that had bent themselves into a pitiful downwards droop.  A couple of almost-flat tires completed this appealing picture. The door handle was begging me to give it a pull, so I could really look further inside, but I didn't dare. To TOUCH this creature would be to create the bond necessary for adoption. I wasn't sure I was ready for that commitment yet, or how Rob might react to the news that I'd take yet another one "under my wing".

The best thing about this car was the fact that it seemed to be all there (have I said that a few times yet?). Anyone contemplating a purchase of a '67 Bug knows that if they do, they'd better make sure the car is complete. Finding parts for a '67 can be difficult, since many items are one-year-only and unique to a '67. Things like the door handles, mirrors, and back up lights are such items. These are also things that were easily removed and replaced with others, if they broke. If you just want to drive the car, it's no big deal if it has '65 fenders, but if you plan a restoration of a '67, it's best to assure that as much of the car is as original as possible. This poor Bug was so sadly neglected that it looked as if it were a car that someone would have bolted just about anything onto, just to keep it functioning. And, when that eventually failed, they just parked it and left it. The nice thing about it seemed to be that since it probably hadn't been a functioning vehicle for quite some time, no one had bothered to screw it up further. So, neglect can be a good thing in some cases.

Now, you might ask, WHAT ON EARTH COULD SHE BE THINKING?? And, I have the answer for you: I wasn't thinking. I was reacting. All I could see was that this Bug needed a new home. I was going by gut instinct, a very dangerous thing with me. My gut never lies. I've learned to trust it and it has led me down many a merry, cost-intensive lane. It led me first down the No Return Road of Transporter Restoration, and the last time my gut kicked up I ended up with a nifty little '58 Cabriolet. So, this time it happened at a very vulnerable time in my life: I am without a project. For the first time in 10 years, I've got nothing to restore or take apart (unless you want to count that spare 36hp engine in the garage I keep intending to rebuild). I am adrift, awash in seas of show-car glaze, Windex, and tire shine. Instead of being immersed up to my elbows in paint stripper and sandpaper, I'm fiddling with clean white terry towels and other assorted trinkets designed to keep two very pampered show cars looking good. I didn't even KNOW I longed for Rust Mort and primer again! Just when the pride and joy of your life is done, finished, along comes another project that needs you. That project is completed, and the natural progression is to find another. My "babies" get finished and I'm left with the old no-more-rust-to-weep-over syndrome. This is not a place that many others would envy, I'm sure, but for some reason I thrive on this. But really, this time, I didn't WANT another Bug, what I really lust after is a '63 23-window Deluxe (among other things). And, until I find that Bus, I've promised myself (and my long-suffering husband) that I won't buy any more cars. I'll have to just say NO! No more Volkswagens! No more Saabs! No Citroens, no Nash Metropolitans, no nothing'! And, I managed to get a grip on myself somehow that day and told this '67 Bug NO. I felt terrible doing it, the poor thing looked so dejected, but I had to. Common sense won out and I lived through it. Sure, I still have the urge to drive by and see if it's still there. (it was) I find myself wondering who will end up with this little gem-in-the-rough, and what they will do with it. Will they appreciate it? Will they part it out? Will they restore it and drive it? SIGH. I avoided driving down this street for a long while after this. The way I figure it is the more I hung around this grungy little guy, the more likely it was that it would end up in my driveway. I've often cherished thoughts of my Dream Garage containing (among other things) a Navy blue '67 Bug, with white interior. I just hadn't thought I'd find it so soon after "growing" my last project to completion. Yet there it was, mine for the asking. Well, I'd had my heart set on a sunroof anyway, so I guess it's all for the best. Unless, of course, we could MAKE this one into a sunroof. HMMMM, I wonder...................................

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