It is difficult to speak to this subject without stirring some controversy. Although I recognize that situations vary, in general I believe in what I detail below. Also, I realize that my views are not necessarily endorsed by 1967beetle.com. However, it is because of 1967beetle.com that I have gelled my thoughts into what “makes me go” these days regarding a Policy of Conservation when it comes to the Vintage Volkswagen Community.
Because I have remained active in the Volkswagen Community for many years, daily I find myself being asked advice on one thing or another. Giving advice requires that a person not only have some degree of knowledge but that he also be able to give direction.
Do we turn right here or do we turn left? We certainly can’t do both. And, to do nothing could be disastrous. To give an indiscriminate signal or, worse, just throw up the hands and let the car do what it will, makes no sense. That’s part of what goes on in my mind when I am asked advice.
I spend countless hours giving counsel to people who call, write or come to see me about buying a vintage Volkswagen. Since meeting Eric Shoemaker and 1967beetle.com, I come into contact even more with persons interested in buying, specifically, a 1967 Beetle.
One of the most common inquiries regards purchasing a ’67 for a son or daughter to use for driving to and from school and their jobs. Safety for the child is one of the major concerns voiced.
Two factors immediately come to mind when I hear that a parent is contemplating the purchase of a vintage vehicle for a child:
- A vintage vehicle is an old car, to begin with. No amount of “restoration” is going to change that fact. Owning a vintage vehicle is not a money-saving measure. Some parts are scarce and, as a result, are difficult to obtain and can be quite expensive. This often leads to the economy of using inferior parts. This further moves the situation to the next concern…
- A vintage car is not a “safe” vehicle for a person of any age. But, especially it is a poor idea to prepare a vintage vehicle for a child. By reviewing the insurance stats, we immediately can see that rates for young people are high. There’s a reason—children are an increased risk due to the number of accidents they have.
Armed with this increased risk of accidents, we must face the fact—a vintage VW is not a “safe” vehicle. There are no air bags, no crush-factors, no power steering, no power brakes, no safety glass and no real safety seats and seat belting. We can do our best but in the end, what we have is a car which is known to be substandard when it comes to safety.
There is a third factor that jumps to mind when I hear that someone is contemplating the purchase and restoration of a VW for a child. That is the fact that these cars, which rapidly are becoming scarce in good running, driving condition, should be conserved—not used for a child’s “first car”. We get carried away with thinking how cute it is going to be or how great it was for us when we were young and had a VW. Times have changed. We all know that youth plus vehicles usually results in disaster to some extent or other. Often this means that another VW is put out of commission—usually for good. Oh, I know—that boosts the value of my Beetle…but, at what cost.
Probably the next area which I deal with concerns people who want to use a 1967 Beetle as a daily driver. Some write wanting advice about buying a Beetle and add that they want to restore the car while driving it to school or to work. My equation is the same as it has been for some time: there are 3 things necessary for the restoration of a vintage vehicle—Time, Space and Money. It will not happen if only two of these criteria are there. You can mix them however you want—it cannot happen.
Serious vintage vehicle hobbyists know that the vintage vehicle is for pleasure driving—not for daily driving. I have mentioned some of the reasons above. Now, to be perfectly fair, I do know a few people who daily drive their Beetles to work and so forth. Usually these are people who have the time, knowledge and means to keep such a vehicle repaired and going. A Volkswagen is a high-maintenance vehicle. Irregular maintenance is a chief enemy. I try to alert anyone who has plans to use his vintage car for daily driving to be aware and prepared for the eventualities.
I have an acquaintance who, I believe, thought that once he had restored his Beetle it had a “new car warranty”. Nothing could be further from the truth. When little things happened, this friend became discouraged and finally sold his car and completely dismissed the VW Scene.
The next major category of buyer is the one who admits to not knowing the attributes of a 1967 Beetle. My most frequent encouragement is to study the targeted vehicle to know what attributes it should have. This costs no money—it involves only time and diligence. The information gleaned can be used to judge any car that may be viewed as a possible purchase. During this time of study, the prospective buyer also should be gathering funds for the purchase. Chiefly, people fail to do either of the above and end up buying a cheap, junky car (“which fits my budget”). In the long-run, this type of purchase costs thousands more than had the buyer saved his money to buy a nice, complete vehicle in the first place. I guarantee that any vintage car, no matter how good it may be, is going to require maintenance above what a modern vehicle will. Purchasing a vintage car in better condition puts the buyer into the driver’s seat more quickly and more comfortably.
For over a year I have been telling folks that within 5 years the average person will have to pay between $10K and $15K for a running, driving (not restored) 1967 Beetle! I arrived at this “formula” by closely watching the sales of many 1967 Beetles. We are 4 years away from my target date—2019. By conserving these cars—buying and using them wisely–my hope is that the average person who wants to get into a VW Hobby Vehicle still be able to do so in the next while. But I am becoming more doubtful by the year.
Realism is a harsh master which often is viewed as pessimism. Long ago I recognized my driving realistic philosophy. LOL It often has gotten me into trouble but also has kept me out of considerable trouble. In any case…my parting point would be to buy carefully and wisely with knowledge.
Long Live the Volkswagen Beetle!