LONG AND PROSPER
on a car is like gray hairs on a human.
At least, to me it is. Not that I enjoy
gray hairs, but I figure if I do have
any I have earned each and every one.
Gray hair means youve lived long
enough (usually) to experience enough
of life to know yourself. Gray hair
means longevity. Gray hair means wisdom
and knowledge; of yourself and others.
If you have no gray hair you either
must not have been around very long,
or want to cover up the fact that you
have been, something that I find vaguely
distressing. Why not share your smarts
and your experiences and your stories?
Why on earth would anyone be ashamed
to be wise, smart, and vintage?? True,
you dont have to look like you
are, but why not admit it?? Babies are
fun, yes, but they arent that
interesting (unless your thing is drool
and babble). Its not a character
aw. Its because babies are new,
and havent been here long enough
to be interesting yet. New cars are
like babies. Fun to look at and play
with, but lets not get one. There
is lots of potential in a new car, as
in a baby, but experiences and wisdom
are still years down the road for both.
speaking of roads, here is how my theory
applies to cars: I have never been a
huge fan of vintage, low- mile-wonders.
They are, to me, a sad example of what
can happen if one has too much money,
too much storage space, and not enough
time to drive. What is a car for, anyway??
I like to think of my Volkswagens as
mobile art. I like to drive, and I like
to drive vintage VWs. Im
not much for collecting things just
for the sake of having them. I like
to enjoy the things I collect, and take
them out and play with them once in
a while. Low mileage vintage cars have
never been played with. They are 50-year-old
babies, babies who get played with for
a few minutes, then put away and forgotten
for a long time. Or, if not forgotten,
bragged about and doted on but never
truly enjoyed. This is not to say that
I am among those hardy and brave few
who REALLY enjoy their vintage Volkswagens,
by driving them in long-distance treks
through snow, sleet, rain and every
other sort of phenomenon Mother Nature
can throw at them. No, Im not
such a hardy and brave soul. Im
also not 25 years old anymore and that
could be part of the reason why my bravado
is, frankly, worn out. I value my life
and limbs the way I value my Volkswagens:
healthy and in one piece. But I sure
admire those who put foot to the door
(in their vintage VW) in December and
drive up a mountain to camp for 3 days.
The Volkswagens these folks drive are
the ones with the gray hairs. These
are the coveted Bugs and Buses (and,
probably, other models as well) who
have experienced life to the fullest
and probably have more than 200,000
miles on the clock (even if its
not the original engine) These are the
VWs that are truly loved and cherished.
And, there is the other side of this
coin as well.
back in the early 80s Rob and
I began going to every VW show we could
find. Mostly because I wanted to (and
he really liked the swap meets) but
also because I was hoping to and some
stuff for Vernon. I still cherished
the hope that Vern would be restored
someday and I wanted to see what kind
of parts were still out there for an
old beat up Single Cab. Then, as now,
these shows drew all kinds of people.
One group we consistently ran into at
the shows out here on the West coast
where what were rumored to be foreign
investors. These folks all seemed
to be (from what I could tell) from
Japan, and they were as easy to spot
at a VW show as a tattoo on Martha Stewart.
They were always in a large group, with
the men walking in front and the women
following behind them, looking bored.
All of them were dressed impeccably,
and by that I mean in 3-piece suits!
It didnt matter what time of day
it was, or when the show was held: these
guys wore Armani to a car show, be it
the middle of July or on a rainy Sunday
in January. The women were usually decked
out in their own designer clothes, with
only the very best of everything. They
seemed to speak little English, and
had an interpreter with them, who would
ask the questions. They would casually
stroll the show car field, seeing what
was there and if it were for sale. If
an offer on a particular car was made
and accepted (which seemed to happen
frequently and out of the blue, oddly
enough), they paid in vast wads of cash.
These investors and their
entourage would tour the entire show,
stopping now and then to have their
interpreter ask a vehicle owner something.
Sometimes, they stayed for quite a while
asking questions. And, more rarely,
sometimes the car they inquired about
stayed behind at the show once the event
was over - the supposed sale being analyzed.
As the tale went, it was said these
investors had been buying Volkswagens
for export to Japan. Apparently, vintage
VWs were so rare in Japan that
entire groups of people would come here
to buy up as many nice ones as they
could, to take back. Once there, I heard
they were sometimes set up in their
own little rooms and displayed like
fine art, never to be driven again.
I have no idea if this story is true
or not. There is likely some truth in
all of this, somewhere. Probably more
often, these cars were resold at a tidy
pro t to some Japanese buyer to enjoy.
I do know that a friend of mine sold
his award-winning 57 Oval to a
Japanese man that shipped it back to
Japan. I dont know what became
of the car once it got there, or how
it was used or not used. Maybe it was
set up in its own little life-size
display case, to be admired
anonymously forever. Or, perhaps it
got a new home with an owner who adored
it, and drove it whenever he or she
could. Id prefer to think that
was the case, rather than to think that
these poor cars who had enjoyed such
a busy and active life here in the States
would simply be allowed to sit idle
for many years, with its odometer
doesnt matter to me where its
driven, as long as it gets out now and
then for some fresh air. Does a VW deserve
any less?? I dont think so.