My dad’s 1968 Volkswagen Super Beetle. He bought this car when it was barely a year old and had less than 10 miles on it. Apparently the old boy that had bought it, just drove it home and parked it in the garage. My pops grabbed it up and never let go.
It’s taken him and me all over the western United States. When I was two, I potty-trained myself while on a trip in this car to visit family in Montana. Luckily this was before car seats and seatbelt laws, so I got to take over the hatch above the engine behind the back seat. My sister had the whole backseat to herself.
My dad loved road trips, whether they lasted one day or 10. We drove all over the north state on weekends. He would let me drop the backseat and build a lounge area so my baby dolls and I could travel in comfort. We camped in Klamath and went fishing at Lassen. We spent countless hours in that car and the drive was always a big part of our trips. I think this must be why I love to drive. I don’t care if I have a destination or a reason for going. I love the feeling of being in a bubble, but still seeing the world around me.
Then seatbelt laws went into effect. My dad is a stickler for the rules, so as of that January 1, he wouldn’t even start the car until everyone was buckled in. he would just sit and wait so patiently, never saying a word. I would start to wonder why we weren’t headed out; when it would occur to me that I hadn’t put on my seatbelt.
My dad taught me how to drive manual in that bug. Of course, he couldn’t let me drive it all the time, so he bought my own for me. Mine was a green 1976 beetle with wide tires and would go anywhere a Baja could go. But I sold my bug a long time ago when I decided it would be cooler to have a newer car. My mistake, the “new” 1988 ford escort I got only lasted six days because I totaled it hitting a telephone pole at 35 mph. I should have kept the bug. The difference in handling between the two was unmistakable and probably helped lead to the accident.
In a way, you could that my dad’s beetle was like my big sister. He had her before me and cared for her as much as he cared for me. There was nothing he wouldn’t have done for either of us. He has kept it up more than he has restored it. He would just tinker and fix things as needed. The bug was always blue, but had a red hood for the longest time. I can’t even remember when he finally painted it to match the rest of the car. It’s had countless rebuilds and new engines put in. She has a great paint job, new upholstery and he even redid the dreaded headliner before he got sick last hear. She has all new window seals and carpet. He has even added amenities like an aftermarket console with cup holders and a modern stereo with a cd player. It had a two-way radio in it long before cell phones existed and still does, though technology has even made them much smaller than when I was young.
My dad was a member of our local Volkswagen club and always participated in Kool April Nights. I will be honored to carry on this tradition next month. I will cherish this car like none other. I may never think of it as mine. It will always be my dad’s car, even if he isn’t here to drive her anymore and my name is listed on the title. I will never sell her or let her go into disrepair. I will rebuild and replace engines as needed. I’ll keep the upholstery, carpets, interiors and exteriors in good condition.
This is what I owe my father, and this car, for years of memories. I will be proud to own her. I will love to drive her.