I have been a petrolhead since I could walk. Growing up, I had a constantly-evolving collection of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. That collection eventually grew further adding in 1/43 scale diecast cars from the brands Minichamps and Spark. At age 12, under my parent’s supervision, I used to drive their old Volvo 245 wagon up and down the driveway to get familiar with how automobiles drove. I mastered parallel parking at that age.
Years before I was born, my late Uncle Bobby on my Dad’s side had owned a collection of Porsches including five early-year 356s, and several early 911s as well. He’d repair and restore them, and eventually, flip them for a profit. He was a petrolhead just like I was. I wish I had gotten to meet him.
I had always loved the old Volkswagen Beetles from the 1960s and 70s. I knew they weren’t very powerful or very safe, but the simple design and quirky features made it one of the cars I knew I wanted to own at some point in my life. Almost every one of my elders has owned an old Bug at some point: My father, mother, aunt, uncle, grandparents. They all loved their Bugs. When I was eight years old, a family friend had a white 1965 Bug and offered to sell it to me for $1 once I turned 16. Unfortunately, the motor failed before then and the car ended up going to the junkyard.
In 2003, at age 13, I tried to convince my grandfather to buy me my first car and I’d pay him back what I didn’t have over time. It was ambitious of me, but it didn’t quite work out. The car was a green 1970 Porsche 911T that was listed for cheap but needed lots of work (<$10k). I found it one day on a classifieds site as I was doing homework in my grandfather’s basement office. At the time, my grandfather understood my love of cars and liked that I had chosen a car he’d seen lots of in the earlier years with my Uncle. “But Griff, you’re crazy.” I got the hint. No person in their right mind would buy a car for a kid who was over two years out from getting his license. Ambitious but rubbish? Not quite. From that point on, I made it a point to work hard at saving up as much money as I could.
It was early 2005. I was 15. For two years, I had been mowing lawns, hosting tag sales, and working as an assistant/caddy to a golf pro. I had saved up a significant amount of money in that time despite battling health issues. My learner’s permit was barely a year away. The internet had started becoming more accessible and one day I stumbled across a website called The Samba, a website that regularly shared photos and stories about older Porsches and Volkswagens. The site also had a classified section…
Being a petrolhead, I browsed the classifieds religiously. Soon enough, I came across a what I believe was an L633 blue 1967 Beetle that had been fully-restored sporting a set of polished Porsche Fuchs wheels. The car lived in California and appeared to be left close to stock, at least on the outside. From what I can remember, the car featured a reinforced and shortened front beam with an upgraded suspension and brake setup, a fully restored interior with more modern seatbelts than what it came with, and a larger engine (2005cc or a 2110cc). I do recall that it made more than triple the power over stock. Somewhere in the 140-wheel horsepower range? I cannot confirm that number but it was a lot. The car was up for $13,000 or best offer, and it was worth every penny.
Fortunately for me, common sense chimed in and I realized that the car was in no shape to act as a daily driver. The harsh climate of the Northeast would ruin the car quickly. Another concern was the world of ever-growing vehicles that could potentially squash the 38-year old Volkswagen. It was now a collector car that had retired from the daily commuting duties that it had seen earlier in its life. I ended up purchasing a VW Golf the following year instead with my father’s help.
Today, fourteen years later, I still possess that for-sale photo of the 1967 Beetle. I have not seen the car up for sale since. If anyone knows its whereabouts or who the current owner is, please let me know. I would be inclined to make an offer for the car that I fell in love with from the first click.
Call me a grown-up petrolhead now, but something about this car… It was the perfect color. Just enough tasteful upgrades to make it stand out from a completely stock Bug. It had the power and handling to potentially make it a fun weekend driver. As you can see, being brought up in a world connected with old Beetles has had an effect on me. Or maybe it was all those Herbie movies I watched growing up? Regardless, I hopefully can find that blue ’67 Bug one day and bring her home for good. I have a feeling that she is still out there.