I bought my first ‘67 Beetle in 1987. After graduating High School, I really needed a car but, just like any typical teenager, I didn’t have much money. Growing up in Southern California, there were plenty of old VWs that would fit my budget. I found myself a blue 1967 VW bug for just under $1000. Sadly, I had to sell my Bug when I was in college but I knew some day I would buy another one.
That “day” took about 15 years. It all started with my brother, John, talking about VWs to a friend at work. During their conversation, his friend mentioned that his wife owned a 1967 VW Bug which they drove on occasion, but that it mainly stayed parked in their garage. My brother mentioned to him that I would be interested in buying the car when they were ready to sell. See John-L and Kurt-R sitting on the bumper of the newly acquired Beetle.
About a year later, Fred and Michelle Laccabue were ready to sell their Zenith Blue ‘67 Beetle. My brother and I drove to their house in his 1965, 21 Window Microbus. We thought that would be fitting for the occasion. Fred had the car all ready for us when we arrived. He also provided the original manuals, years of old maintenance receipts, and 30 plus years of California registration stubs. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to discuss the family history of it. I had a feeling that it was a very emotional moment for Michelle and really didn’t want to push the subject. See Kurt and Charmagne enjoying the rear bumper of the newly acquired ’67.
The Bug has remained virtually unchanged since I bought it 17 years ago. I plan to keep it that way. I just enjoy driving it on the weekends with my kids.
I have added a few period specific options. One in particular is a Sapphire V Radio that I bought from Jay Salser. My wife and I drove over to Jay’s house to pick up the Radio. We stayed a while and had a great time talking about VWs and other things. That visit and further conversations with Jay really motivated me to know more about my Beetle’s history.
I decided to reach out to the original owner, Michelle, after these 17 years. My wife, through social media, was able to track down Michelle and send her a message. Michelle responded within a day and was really excited to hear about the car. I sent her photos and we shared stories about the Bug. She told me all she could remember about the car.
In May of 1967, Michelle’s father, Paul Savage, purchased the car brand new for $1600 from Spartan VW in San Jose, California. He used the car for his daily commute from San Jose to San Bruno for work until 1971. At that time, Michelle had just graduated from college and needed a car. He sold her his Bug for a low Bluebook price of $900. Now she had a new set of wheels and named her Bug, “URBIE”. That name came from the first three letters of the car’s license plate, URB. See Paul and Michelle—the two previous owners of Kurt’s Bug.
She told me all the adventures she could remember with URBIE. Nothing crazy, just local driving and some road trips with her friends around the San Francisco Bay area.
One moment she really remembered was driving down Hwy. 280 when the little red light came on. She remembered her father talking about the white light** but not the red light, so she kept driving. The car finally quit on Hwy. 280 and Stevens Creek. The little red light lesson ended up costing $500 for a VW exchange engine, which still is in the car.
She also said that URBIE made his part in history. Michelle laughed as she told me that URBIE participated in Flower Power in the early ‘70s. She explained that all she really did was to put Flower Power stickers on the Bug and placed a hippie colored “Powered By Michelle” sticker on the dash. Thankfully, she didn’t use spray paint.
URBIE also was used for the daily commute to the courthouse for the highly publicized Angela Davis Case in 1972.
Michelle used the car as a daily driver until she married Fred in 1978. After that, URBIE became a 3rd car in the family and was used only on occasion.
Talking to Michelle has brought a lot of closure for her and me. She shared with me that for years she really regretted selling her Bug. But when I reached out to her and sent photos of URBIE, she felt that it couldn’t have gone to a better person.
Kurt and Charmagne visited the Salsers a few months ago. We memorialized the visit with a photo shoot.
Doesn’t Kurt’s Beetle show well on the front lawn?
Note: Names of former owners were used with permission.
**Kurt and I discussed the “white” light and assumed that the green oil light had faded. In fact, Kurt examined the speedometer and tells me that the green oil light gel has faded to a very light color. Since the former owner affirms that the red generator warning light showed, we surmise that the fan belt had broken. Once the fan stopped turning, the engine over-heated and quit.