Another fantastic story, Jay. Thank you for everything you do for 1967beetle.com and the ’67 Beetle community worldwide. -ES
Your story is both amazing and exciting. I find these stories of ’67 Beetles and their owners very intriguing. There are some very amazing situations that bring together people and cars and your story certainly bears evidence of that!
I gather from your latest reports that you are plenty satisfied with the way your car looks and how it performs. What influenced you to begin to show your Beetle?
My friend Tom, in Traverse City, MI, originally proposed the idea to start doing car shows last year. He has an ‘83 Olds Cutlas/Hurst 15th Anniversary Edition that he purchased new. It is immaculate and he has been showing it for years. I knew that my Beetle was not near to the standard of Tom’s car but we decided to give it a go anyway. I learned from a VW Festival that VW people, including me, are very forgiving and rather just appreciate these iconic cars as-is, bringing back fond memories.
I understand that there were prizes for winning cars at this first show? What were the criteria for winning?
Most of the shows in Michigan have several classes of competition. Chairman’s Choice, Best of Show, Top 20 or Peoples’ Choice, etc. Votes are cast by club members, judges, participants and/or spectators–or all the above. One never knows what may strike the fancy of the voters on any given day. I do believe from observation “criteria for winning” is grounded on the display you present to the viewers and their experience. Although every participant has great pride and passion for his vehicle, it’s the nostalgia which spectators remember about these cars that wins the day.
Given that your geographic location isn’t set for early spring-time weather, didn’t you find it a bit intimidating to enter your car in that first show? I know that many vintage car owners won’t take their cars out of the garage if the weather is not fully cooperative.
Yes, Tom and I did talk about the rain and cold we would experience during the first show (May 1st) and the “what if” plan. I never had driven my Beetle in the “driving rain” before this show and I was paranoid with regard to my electrical system. You are “spot on” with regard to weather and participant turnout. The usual 100 plus cars was down to 30 due to the weather. In any case, we had a great time and look forward to the 81st National Trout Festival Car show in 2017!
What did you learn from the first show that helped you as you prepared for the second one?
It’s all about presentation! My wife, Mary, actually is the driving force behind our current winning streak. She was the one who had the vision and sourced the Roof Rack and Bambus Tray from Eric & Amanda at Lane Russell. It was the Roof Rack and Bambus Tray that drew the attention. Keep in mind that our Beetle is not a “show car” or a “trailer queen”….we drive her! In addition, Mary sourced vintage picnic baskets, wine bottles, cake tins, table cloths and vintage Beetle books, adding them to the display. Because our interior is “original”, it presents as though we just drove to the show from a picnic in 1967. Mary caught the “bug” at the Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Festival last year….it goes without saying that I truly am blessed. Thank you Mary!
You also say that your friend, Tom, entered a car into this second show. Had you two already been “car-ing” together in the past?
Tom has a lot of experience with car shows and is passionate about any car from Detroit. Because we enjoy doing these together, we have certainly made every effort to dial into the shows that are within reasonable distance. We tend to do day trips staying within a 1 to 2 hour radius since we do drive our vehicles to the shows.
I know what you mean when you say something about people wanting photos of themselves with your car. Apparently this was especially the case at the Mushroom Festival Classic Car show. Tell us some of the reactions by the viewing crowd, Gavin.
The kids, especially, love to see and get their picture taken with the Beetle. I make every effort to tell the parents that it’s ok to let the kids jump into the driver’s seat, beep the horn and have some fun. I guarantee that this is the exception at car shows. The “sniff but don’t touch” stickers are plastered on most of the cars!! The funniest and most awkward interactions were from a few of the ladies. I’ve had at least two ladies tell me that their parents offered them a Volkswagen Beetle as a wedding gift–or the cash equivalent for their honeymoon. Looking back, one lady wished that she had chosen the Volkswagen! One of two of those interactions included the husband standing there to receive that news with me! The look on his face was priceless as he mock-recoiled, “Would you like a second opinion, Dear?” We all burst out laughing to tears…
Did you have people wanting to buy your Beetle?
I did have one gentleman who wanted to trade me for an ‘86 El Camino. Charlie was his name, nice car guy. I have a car and a pickup so I declined, but thanked him!
I know that no matter how much one has cleaned his car before the show, if he has to drive to get there—the car accumulates bugs and dirt. How did you cope with that—especially for that first show?
Tom and I DO drive to the shows. I have learned everything I know about “speed detailing” from Tom and another good friend, Ken. Ken, whom I met through Tom, maintained high-end inventory for years with GM. The cars you saw in the GM commercials years ago were detailed and delivered by Ken and his team. Pretty Cool! Tom’s car is immaculate inside and out, whereas my Beetle has a a few “warts”. I wash and spray-wax the night before. I use ‘Simple Green” in a very diluted mix with warm water. Nothing too concentrated or harsh. I dry thoroughly and spray-wax (Griot’s or Mother’s) then finish and shine the entire car, especially the chrome.
At the show, I do the once-over, removing bugs, then dust the vehicle. To remove the “bug guts” I have found a soft sponge and an old nylon stocking to be ideal. Simply ask your wife for an expired nylon stocking and stick a sponge into it. With your bucket, fetch some clean water (warm water if possible) and a gentle scrub will wash away the entrails nicely.
What necessities did you take when you went to the show—did you take spares of anything, for instance?
I learned the hard way! You will need a comfortable chair and something to offer you shade during the show. Or lately, perhaps a winter coat, hat, gloves and boots! Because we show up early, we’ve been fortunate to find a shade tree. Plenty of water, something to eat or cash to purchase both. I do take my small bucket, spray wax, tire shine, nylon sponge and duster for prep on the Beetle.
Elaborate on things that would be important for the Readers of 1967beetle.com to know and to do when they plan for showing their cars.
A. Have fun! Not everyone will love your car as much as you do, no matter how shiny, custom or valuable your Beetle is. However, others will love it MORE than you do and will make it a point to approach and argue with the judges why your car is Best in Show…true story! Maintain a sense of humor, emulating friendship and goodwill and be an ambassador of all things Beetle! You may find that you are the only Beetle or Volkswagen at the show. This is an important opportunity to educate and invite new members to the wonderful world of the Peoples’ Car. Many people at these shows tell me they’d love to own a vintage beetle….I always joke with them and say, “It’s a 1 in 21 million chance to become a member of the VDub Club!” It always gets a good laugh….
Gavin, you won trophies in both of your first two shows. What other benefits do you believe can be derived from attending car shows?
It’s important to be an active participant in helping others. That is, whenever possible we make it a point to participate in shows that benefit the community or an organization. Notwithstanding, networking among “car guys and girls” is priceless. We all have special places in our hearts for our vehicles and people in our lives. Our pride and passion for both is a reflection of who we are and the legacy we want to pass on to our loved ones.
Do you have events lined up for the rest of the year?
Oh Jay, its going to be a great year! We live in a paradise (summer months) and very near to the Home Office of Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty has compiled a list of car shows all across Michigan. Tom & I are actively plotting our course and look forward to a great show season.
Gavin and Mary…thank you for your contribution to the 1967 Beetle Community and, especially, to 1967beetle.com. My best to you as you continue to be Ambassadors of Volkswagen Goodwill. Happy Motoring!