In 1967, I was in the Air Force and owned a 1958 Dodge Cornet. In February, the engine went south and it was going to cost more than I paid for the car to fix it. I decided it was time to look into getting a VW.
My step-dad hauled cars for a living, at the time, and said he’d show me how to negotiate a good price. Apparently he didn’t know that there was no bargaining on VW’s. Off we went to Lakewood Motors. We spent some time with the sales guy before dad hailed victory by getting them to throw in a cigarette lighter. He was exhausted after the ordeal.
I drove the VW for many years while I finished my time in the Air Force, college and several years of working. On the lighter side, in 1977, I was sent to the San Francisco area to clean up a branch of the company where I was working. I drove the VW up with my suitcase and my 200lb Saint Bernard, Mandy. By the time I arrived, the car looked like I had Argyle seat covers and the back windows were a mess from slobber and fur.
My biggest disappointment was when I got stupid and decided to enroll my Bug in the Beetle Board Program. This was popular in the late 70’s and involved a paint job and decals of an advertiser. My Bug was selected to advertise Kool cigarettes. While it was fun and produced a small supplemental income, at the end of a year, they ripped off the decals and gave me $60 for a paint job. The biggest problem was that when they ripped off the decals, it took off the paint leaving an uneven surface. Needless to say, it was going to cost more than $60 to restore and I simply didn’t have the funds at that time.
I had a cousin who worked on cars. He told me that he’d give me a great price on body and paint. He did some of the work but then took it to Earl Schieb (a large paint and body franchise). What a disaster. Needless to say, I didn’t talk to my cousin again after that.
The Bug finally took a back seat to other cars and, while I did drive it periodically, it simply didn’t get the care and attention it needed and which I had given it early on.
Fast forward to 2018–I met a gentleman at a car show who is heavily involved in VW’s. I decided to jump at the opportunity to get the Bug running again. While it WAS running, it wasn’t running that great. Marks Auto of Sierra Vista went through the entire car with a fine tooth comb and identified everything that needed to be repaired or replaced. When he was done, I had gotten such a great deal on the work that I told him to go ahead with the body and paint. He and his crew did a fabulous job and I am once again able to fully enjoy driving my Bug. It runs like new and looks fantastic.
Having owned the car since 1967 (that’s 53 years), it’s a part of me and I’m thrilled to be whole again. The day after I got it back from being restored, I entered it in a local VW car show. I was thrilled to have taken second place. I still have a few pieces to replace in order to get it back to original, but dang, I do love driving it.