We’ve been going through the archives a bit tonight, here at 1967beetle.com. This fantastic, unique story deserves another moment in the spotlight.
Tell us about the history of your ’67 Beetle?
I’ve wanted a classic Volkswagen since I was a kid. I’m not certain where the influence came from. I found very quickly that I was not going to get more than the rusted remains of a classic VW Bus in my price range, so I started searching through Beetle listings out of financial necessity. We test drove a handful of them across California and none of them were really right. They were all molested, with big bassy stereo systems and funky junk going on in the engine. I didn’t dig it. I wanted something original, but not in showroom condition as I wasn’t up to such a responsibility. I figured I might bump into a few curbs along the way. I wanted something more on the hoodride side but also something semi reliable that wouldn’t fall apart. I was pretty particular about it. We were worn out after a few weeks, and my budget was beginning to dwindle when I finally found Walter listed on The Samba. We drove to Palo Alto, and instantly when I saw him I knew he was perfect. Love at first sight. It was a very short transaction – we drove around in a little circle down University Avenue.
“This is absolutely the one.”
We handed the guy $2,750 cash, he handed me the keys. He mentioned he was the second owner. He had several project cars in his driveway and said he was selling it to free up some space.
Have you done any restoration work on the car?
Not much to speak of. Walter was in pretty original condition when I picked him up. Rough around the edges, but very original. I’ve done everything I can to keep it that way. He could certainly use some restorative maintinance, but I kinda love to see the age on him. Sometimes I want to get him clean and shiny, back to showroom standards and then I don’t. Why? because that really isn’t me. I have holes in my shoes and snags in my sweaters, hair unbrushed, hands dirtied. My ’67 matches me on a cosmic level; paint fairly oxidized, speedometer busted, offensive phrases etched into layers of dust. I wipe my hands on my clothes and I dunno if I could ever be comfy in something I’d be stressed about spilling a soda in.
How reliable has the car been over the years?
Walter works for me. I’ve led a bit of a strange life since buying him. He only gets irritated in July. It seems to be an annual snapping-of-the-fan belt tradition. I don’t know if it’s heat-related or I’m a complete dunce (probably both). But anyway, a snapped fan belt is incredibly minor. Have you had any major mechanical issues? Last Summer I had to replace the generator. It’s the only engine issue I’ve had in four years. Other than that it’s all fan belts and oil changes. I replaced the brakes shortly after I bought it; and eventually the tires and a handful of minor things that had worn down with age.
What makes the ’67 Beetle so unique?
It’s the only car I’ve ever owned and the only car I know how to drive. That makes it one of a kind to me.
You’re a photographer. What is it about the Beetle that works in terms of subject matter for your ideas?
It’s the stuff of my life basically. It’s the only possession I can be sure of. In the years that I’ve owned it my life has been rather unstable – moving from one place to another with a day’s notice. That little car is my only sense of stability. When I see it I feel home no matter where it’s parked. I tend to take photos of it mostly because it personifies me that way – “That’s Manda, and that’s her car.” Everything else is more or less inconstant.
What Do you enjoy most about owning a ’67 Beetle? It appeals to my nature. It’s incredibly idiosyncratic. Predictably unpredictable. I love the way it handles, I love the intamacy of how little space there is, I love the simplicity of its levers and dials, I love the way it sounds and smells. Mostly, I can’t stand new things. The newer a thing is, the less real it seems to me. Older things are more tangible. That might not make sense but it’s really very important to me. A thing has to have survived years and seen things. It’s character.
What do you think about the VW German engineering of old? It’s the only thing I’m acquainted with – works wonderful for me! I’ve attempted to drive my sister’s 2010 Jetta and I have to wonder, how do people get around in a car that drives itself? It’s highly unnerving to me. I like to know I’m the one in control, moving my own tires without the help of any mysterious electronic impulses.
Thanks, Amanda for sharing your story with 1967beetle.com.
All Photography: Amanda De Vito
She spoke from the heart and for all of us.
My favorite part was about “attempting” to drive
the 2010 Jetta, that drives its self…perfect… and so true.
This article made my day. I’m going to save it and send it to
people who ask me why I own my ’67 instead of a Lexus.
great interview… and love her photography.
Thanks guys. Mike, I agree. I’d never own a brand new car. No way.
Great story. Killer photography!! VW love.
Few things in life work as well as a VOLKSWAGEN !
I’d agree! VW of old set the standard for sure.
“Sometimes I want to get him clean and shiny, back to showroom standards and then I don’t. Why? because that really isn’t me. I have holes in my shoes and snags in my sweaters, hair unbrushed, hands dirtied. My ’67 matches me on a cosmic level”
This gives me goosebumps. If there’s one thing I’ve come to understand about Volkswagens and their owners it’s that they match on an almost disturbing level.
I have a customer with a ’62 beetle that he bought brand new in France in 1961. I think he’s almost 80 now but he’s still very sharp and mobile. The car is painted sort of a blackish brownish color, he got a bunch of house paint for free and mixed all the colors together and that’s what he uses to paint the car (yeah with a brush), he saves the paint so he can repaint it every couple years, there’s no rubber left in the doors and all the rubber for glass is rotted and barely there, there’s no interior left at all, no carpet, no headliner, the seats are just springs, the wiring is a rats nest from him monkeying around with it, all the chrome is rusted to shit, the bumpers are all bent up, and the engine is filthy filthy dirty. Despite all that, it runs and drives pretty well.
Last time I saw him he came in to buy a fan belt. He is always filthy dirty, his hands are just black with dirt, he’s got dirt all over his face. I don’t know where he’s from originally, somewhere on the east coast as he’s got this funky accent. It’s like Bostonian sometimes, I don’t know, it’s weird. He’s always wearing a dickies work shirt and both chest pockets are full of shit. Just like notes he’s made for himself and business cards and coupons. Packed full. He’s always got a pencil with him in case he’s got to write anything else down. Everything on him is ancient. He wears these boots that he got in the ’50s that are all beat up, and a parka that he made years ago that I seem to always see him in even if it’s like 90º out. He’s got these old bifocals that are huge and covered in who knows what, I don’t know how he sees out of them. His hair is full and grey but it’s always disheveled and he always needs a good shave. He looks like an old sheep dog that hasn’t been bathed in a month. Oh and he clicks his teeth when he talks.
Anyway, this particular day he came in to buy a fan belt and he had spaghetti sauce all over. All over his face, all over his shirt, all over his parka, and I go, “Leon you’ve got sauce all over you.” So he goes to the bathroom to wash up and another customer walks in who was looking at Leon’s really dark maroonish Bug as it was parked out in front of the shop. The guy comes in, gives me a look and says “Who’s car is that?” in a sorta sarcastic tone. Then Leon pops his head out of the bathroom and says “Oh that’s mine, you wanna buy it? It’ll cost ya a million dallahs! haha! *CLICK(teeth)*”
The point is Leon would never want a nice car. He wouldn’t know what to do with it. The car just suits him, it almost is him. Sometimes when he takes off after buying something I swear I can hear a little *click* coming from the car as he barrels off back to whatever dimension he comes from.
Great story Sean!
Hey now,I love my Jetta! That whip has got us through some times for sure,and seen its fair share of dirt ;)
That being said – Manda’s car has become a part of our family.We’ve had many good times riding through the boondocks with Walter – nothing really compares to bouncing around in that thing.
Photography and writing have been a part of our lives for many years.I’m happy to see so much of her great photography in this article – but I will say while Manda has always been eloquent,us De Vitos have some freaking MOUTHS on us (blame it on our Sicilian heritage).
She certainly always speaks from the heart,as well as being an incredible wordsmith.Her realist perspective on life as a whole is what makes her writing unique – but I’m sure this was cleaned up for wide public view,Hahaha.
This was a great piece for our family to see,especially because we are all scattered across the state these days.Thank you!
Thanks for the comment. This featured ’67 interview has been a popular one.
I have a 2008 New Beetle and like to do some of my on maintence
I want to do my oil changes> How do i get under this car?
I’d suggest a creepy crawler, etc. This site focuses on the vintage model VW.
Oh, Wow! We need more ’67 owners like Amanda! Those who love their cars for what they are–not what they can turn them into. Long live Walter–and–Amanda! jay
Amanda’s ’67 is a great story. I love how these cars are as unique as the people that drive them.
so Amanda I also have holes in my shoes and snags in almost everything but its ok,im spending all my cash on my 67.different strokes eh?
Thanks for reading!
What a great story. You don’t see too many beautiful young ladies “wanting” to drive classic Beetles around. Simplicity is obviously your interests. That’s a very nice original beetle. I am at the same point with mine. It’s very drivable in the current condition. I would love a perfect VW, but then I would always worry about it. Plus it might ruin the old smell. Keep on bugging.
She’s a fantastic person and her car seems to match her approach to life.
“Mostly, I can’t stand new things. The newer a thing is, the less real it seems to me. Older things are more tangible.”
This reached out to me. I stumbled on my ’67. I knew I wanted a vintage VW, didn’t care what year. I just knew I wanted a pre 1969. A family friend found my ’67, fixed it up for me (enough to drive), now I can’t wait to take on the streets of LA! Great story Amanda!
Great story. Sounds like he found the proper car for him.Makes you smile when people are happy. BOB Ebert
Great post. The beetle evoke a feeling of a time when everything was simpler. 1967 was a year that shaped the person who I have become or what I wanted to become. The peace sign , the yellow happy face. Make love not war. Environment causes. I was only 6 in that year. I remember the Beetles, The Doors, Elvis, Mama and Papas. Expo 67 in Montreal, and yes all the beetles you use to see on the road. It is a rare thing to see a bug anymore on a regular basis. I have had my 67 now for a year and have had to put a new front end, as the previous only had it chopped. (What a sin!) I’ve been working on figuring out this vapour lock problem. I hate ethanol . Cutting to the chase. I smile when i see a bug, whether on a tv show or movie.( we all yell bug! when we spot one) I smile when i drive or look at mine. And everyone else smiles when they see them. Its’s in my heart and my soul, and i am sure most of you bugite’s would agree. Lucille.
Great comment, and so true! I think that’s the best part about 1967beetle.com; storytelling. Everyone has a VW story.
I love, love, love seeing younger people falling in love with classic VW’s! Her comments were so true of the feelings and emotions these cars bring out in each of us. I know when I drive one of my classic VW’s, I feel like I’ve stepped back in time. To a simpler, slower life. When we were all not in such a hurry to get here, there and everywhere. Life for lots of us has gotten too fast. Time goes by fast enough yet we all seem to run around with our hair on fire!
I know for me, when I feel stressed out and have too much going on, I like to “escape” in the garage and wrench on a VW. If I’m really stressed, I’ll take a nice ride in one to put things back in perspective and slow myself down. Just seeing all the waves, smiles and thumbs up from other drivers, some how reminds me to put my problems in perspective. :)
Agreed! There’s just something about these old cars.
Very nice story :) love it.
Wow, I just saw this. Awe. Some. Do you still have it? You’ll be able to relate to my inspiration for a poster I made with a friend. Hope this link works: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/classifieds/detail.php?id=1871796
Amanda’s beautiful honesty permeates her writing and photography. Thank you so much for sharing!
Amanda is spot on and really captured the essence of what it means to be consumed by a “bug”!!
What talent and appreciation she reveals via her Bug and art form. I’m so pleased you have brought this back Eric as I too am seeing it for the first time….thx!
Thanks. Amanda’s a special person. There are many many articles buried on 1967beetle.com. I’ll keep digging them up. :)
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