Featured ’67 Beetle — Jay Salser

This L456 ruby red ’67 Volkswagen Beetle began its life in Wolfsburg, then made its way across the Atlantic probably to the Texas Coast where it disembarked and was trucked to Lubbock, Texas, (Montgomery Motors at the time), the lone VW dealership in the lower South Plains area.

Time has erased some evidence, but probably its first owner was someone that used the little car as a delivery vehicle. When it came up for sale about 1970, my family was home in Lubbock from South America on vacation. We needed a car and located this one from a newspaper advertisement. Dad, who had past experience with his ‘65 Bug and I went to check it out.

We took it for a drive. The day was particularly windy and as we turned southward off the Loop, the hood popped open and we were blinded. Dad managed to pull to the side of the frontage road and we closed the hood. I recall the car cost us six or seven hundred dollars.

The first thing I did was a thorough cleaning, polish and waxing job. With a little elbow grease, the car looked new! I left a sticker on the dash which someone had lovingly placed there. The sticker read: “The Red Baron.”

Our son was nearing 18 months old at the time. We found that we could make the back seat into a nice bed and play area for him. The floor between back and front seats could be filled with baby supplies that made the area between the seats level.

In this car, we traveled about the Panhandle of Texas visiting friends and relatives. Then, we headed for Washington State, then down through Oregon and California, visiting along the way. Finally, we cut through the desert, across Arizona and into New Mexico.

When we returned to South America in a few months, the car passed to my sister who eventually took residence in Dallas. She made numerous trips between Dallas and Lubbock.

In 1976, we returned to Dallas to live. My sister still had the car but was terminally ill. She lent the car to us to drive. Following her death in ‘77, we purchased the car from her husband.

The Red Baron saw our children grow into teenagers. He faithfully took children to school. He took my wife shopping. He took me to work until ’83 when I bought a pickup to aid me in my contracting business. He eventually helped the children to learn to drive. He even became our daughter’s vehicle for getting to and from work.

The Baron’s engine finally “dropped a valve” at just over 129K miles. I rebuilt my first VW engine on the living room coffee table and The Baron had new life!

When our daughter needed a car with air-conditioning, The Baron began to sit for longer and longer spells in the driveway. Finally, following some renovation in the ’90s, he went to a new owner, a long-time VW friend who worked for the Postal System in Plano, TX. A few years later, he returned to our place for a complete brake system overhaul, tune-up and general cleaning. Shortly, he also received his third paint job.

My friend even installed a new engine, although he admitted that my rebuilt engine showed no sign of wear. He just “thought that the car needed a fresh engine.”

It wasn’t much after that that I received a call from a lady. She explained that she had purchased the car but was having some problems with it. I helped as much as I could but soon found that although she had purchased the car for her daughter, her daughter had nothing but disdain for it and purposely did things to side-line the Bug. The Baron looked more and more worn.

Not much later, I was informed that the car had been sold to yet another person, in Sachse, TX. I made a swing by the place to see my old and faithful friend and found him with dented decklid, faded paint and very run-down. There were those familiar marks from the care which he had received during the years at our house but they were fast waning.

That was the last we heard of The Red Baron. Perhaps he lives on. We may never know. But we can certainly say of him, “He was the best of the best!” We’ll never have another one as fine and dignified as he.

Thanks, Jay for sharing your story with 1967beetle.com.

The Finishing Touches for Your Vintage Volkswagen™

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