MEANING OF VW LIFE, or, HAVE YOU CONVERTED
keeping with a 90's Volkswagen ad
campaign, how do you define FAHRVERGNUGEN?
Choose which apply from the list below:
Pleasurable experience obtained only
by driving a VW
2) Pleasurable experience obtained
only by driving a vintage VW
3) Warm fuzzy feelings experienced
upon receipt of letters and goodies
from faraway VW pals
4) The arrival in the household of
a new member of the VW family
5) All of the above
prompted all this? It's been a busy
few weeks at our house lately. But,
in the middle of all this hubbub,
I've had time to make up a little
quiz for you. What wakes you up in
the middle of the night? What demands
to be fed when empty? What can cost
an arm and a leg, only to sit around
all day doing nothing? What makes
you forget your work in the middle
of the day, causing you to lapse into
daydreams and ponder its future? When
you get a couple minutes to sit down,
what can make you jump up again to
tend to its every need? Then, just
as it gets OLDER, what constantly
requires your money to keep it going?
of you who will do well on this quiz
are most likely parents. But, parents
of WHAT? I'm not talking KIDS here.
Yes, we've had a Blessed Event at
our house recently, but the "baby"
weighed in at over 1800 pounds, took
ME home that night, and is already
55 years old. The Perfect Child, I'd
say. After wanting convertible for
ages, I now find myself in the enviable
position of being Suitably Converted.
My newest boy, Oscar, came home a
month ago and is a 1958 Volkswagen
Bug convertible. He's black, with
a black top, and for his age, is in
remarkably well-preserved original
condition. His arrival changed a few
things within our family, as new babies
one thing, I'm a Type II person. Vernon
has been my first love for as long
as I can remember, and that goes back
a considerable way. I've always had
a weakness for the Type II Bus Faces,
and if it happens to have a pickup
bed attached to the rear, count me
gone. As anyone who has been following
my ramblings for any length of time
knows, Vernon was my dream come true.
My daily driver, Bogart, is a wonderful
little fella, but he's NEW. He's a
1969 model, and while not what you'd
call the latest, he's still new when
you're talking in terms of Vintage
VW's. So, Oscar was a bit of a shock.
The steering wheel isn't flat! He
has a BACK SEAT. The gas filler is
under the hood! He drives like Vernon
but is shaped like Bogart! And, strangest
of all, he can actually flip his lid!
hadn't done too much thinking about
WHAT convertible I wanted when I found
Oscar. I knew I wanted a Bug convertible,
but that leaves about 189 years' worth
of bug convertibles to choose from
for me. So, when Oscar smiled at me,
I smiled back, but I wasn't sure he
was THE one. Nevertheless, I call
about him that night and drove him
the next day. I wasn't radically impressed
- his muffler leaked like a sieve
and his steering felt a bit like it
was connected with rubber bands. The
brakes were mushy. He had no taillights
- after sitting out for sale for one
day, they had been stolen. Heck, he
only had one license plate! But there
was something there that called to
me - he looked at me as if he was
hoping I'd want to take him home.
It had been a while since anyone CARED
about him - sure, they'd done all
the right things, more or less, but
no one CARED. Pretty soon, I stopped
making excuses and I bought him.
did he become Oscar? Well, he needed
a name, that much was obvious, and
after all, he IS an older gentleman
who wears a black toupee, so we had
to be careful. "Dudley"
came to mind. But, the day after he
came home I went out to greet him,
and OSCAR looked back. It was that
easy, and his name proved to be comical,
yet dignified. He seems happy with
it. Vernon and Bogart tried to make
him feel welcome, but I think Vern
in particular was a bit bewildered.
He was used to being the only Vintage
Beast in the house, and this new one
didn't even have a ROOF. What the
are funny. They love attention. The
first day I drove him someone wanted
to buy him from me at a stoplight.
It seems as though you are more VISIBLE
in a convertible; they're almost a
state of mind. You're sitting right
out there in the wind and the sun
and the smog. Everyone around you
can hear your radio. You can hear
their kids cry. Birds talk to you
as they fly over, smells are more
potent. The sun is warm on you but
the breeze is cool. It's easy to get
sunburned and in nearly every convertible
I'll bet you'll find sunglasses, sunscreen
and a Chapstick. It's more like riding
on a roller coaster than driving a
car. Even parking is different. You
don't just lock the doors and walk
away. You have to put the TOP up first.
And here in California, who would
ever think of driving around with
the top up- to begin with? There's
a lot to learn about this, and how
to Convertible Conduct oneself.
all sounds like tremendous fun, but
be aware, converting is not without
its hazards, and the most obvious
hazard is the sun. Sunscreen, sunglasses
and a hat can easily handle this obstacle,
but you'd think that if you needed
to apply all the foregoing equipment
just to drive the car, why not just
put the top up an forget the rest?
Because you'd look like a dweeb, that's
why. The same way you'd look like
a dweeb if you put the top and roll
all the windows up! It's dangerous
in California to be seen doing this.
So, I smear on the sunscreen, and
tie my hair back and grease up with
Chapstick, all for the privilege of
being out in the elements.
hazard might be flying debris, although
I haven't personally experienced this
phenomenon. Suppose the guy in front
of you tosses out a cup? Are you going
to get the ice in your face? Or, YUCK,
maybe they get tired of that chewing
gum - let's hope they're not smokers
either. But, I'm willing to face these
horrors if it means being Converted.
of the best things about a convertible
is that there is a lot of nifty stuff
on them. Take the rear view mirror
for example. The mirror and the visors
are connected, all one unit, but the
mirror itself is on a swivel. With
the top up, the mirror swivels down
to see out through the back window.
Put the top down, and when it's folded
it stick up so high you can't see
easily over it. Then, the mirror swivels
up, so you can see over the folded
top. Leave it to those clever Germans
to come up with something like this.
The front hood locks from inside,
so that when the top is down you can
lock valuables in the trunk. Getting
into the trunk requires the key to
unlock the knob. Really clever. The
grab straps for the back seat hang
from the frame of the top, then neatly
tuck into the top when it's folded
down so they don't show. They don't
get caught in the frame as you are
folding it either, as you might think,
since they are located far enough
forward to miss the hinge. I know,
I know, engineers get paid to do stuff
like this, but it still amazes me.
You should see the window rubber.
Now, about now you are asking yourself,
"How on EARTH can she get so
excited about window rubber?",
but you have to see this to fully
appreciate it. The window rubber perfectly
grooved to fit with the chrome trim
on the windows, so that when you roll
up the windows, nothing leaks. And
the structural support in the body
is a work of art as well, blending
in without being obvious. I could
go on for days about how clever the
top itself is, but I don't want to
bore you. All in all, quite a work
of art, worthy of the VW name.
every weekend since his arrival, I've
spent at least one day cleaning or
painting or replacing something. And,
with Rob's generous help, we've managed
to get Oscar more than presentable.
Once the bad weather hits, he will
go live with a friend, indoors in
his barn with others of his kind.
I'm sure I will miss him, but I've
promised Vernon he doesn't have to
give up his spot in our garage for
Oscar. So, to keep peace between the
siblings, small sacrifices are mad.
And, from now on, I will be a Type
II fanatic who also happens to have
adopted a convertible. And I say,
when it comes to Fahrvergnugen, the
more the merrier.