QOTD: What Cool Freebies Came With Your Car?

In part 1 of my VW Westfalia biopic, “If Cars Could Talk,” I mused on the lives my old van might have lived before I took ownership. An old Westfalia is kind of like an old yacht (and I don’t just mean in its insatiable appetite for $$$), and it has tons of cubbies and cabinets. The van came with a lot of odds and ends. Going through the drawers painted some interesting pictures of the previous owners.

My van came with three pairs of sunglasses. One was in the glove compartment, one was in the pull-out drawer below the stove, and the vintage tortoise-shell pair in the middle (my favorite) was found trapped and buried behind the refrigerator cabinet in some pink insulation foam; It was likely lost back there decades ago, and I rock these whenever I take the old bus out on a sunny day.

I also found a waterproof weatherbreaker in a collapsible bag (that fits perfectly!), and this emergency poncho.


Then, there was a couple of bucks in change and some mardi gras beads.


There were several flashlights, and the coolest one is this guy with magnetic, adjustable legs.


In the cabinets were assorted tools, cables and connectors, and some fuses and parts:

Valve cover gaskets: Don’t leave home without ’em.


There’s a 100 foot electrical extension cable, a squirt bottle, a bike lock extension, a long flathead screwdriver, and my favorite, a vintage “The Club” steering wheel lock that I actually have the key for. I added the lug wrench in.

A used oven mitt and a wooden spoon! Just what the doctor ordered!


I also found an unused POR-15 rust repair kit (which I actually came in very handy when repairing rust on the windshield frame)

More stuff:  a fire extinguisher, tire chain ties, a beanie, a waterbottle and a lightweight blanket. With the extinguisher being of the dry chemical variety, I didn’t dare use it when I sparked a minor electrical fire while working on the radio a few months ago.

The Westy’s fridge was toast, but I got this very nice fridge/freezer thrown in. This would actually have cost $3-400!


This is a bluetooth USB port that you can use to charge devices and play music on the van’s stereo through radio frequency. An inverter came with the van and its auxiliary power setup, but both had to be replaced. Also, I don’t know that those really qualify as “freebies” so much as upgrades to the van.

This sad looking jailbird sits by the clock and gauges. He came with the van and is part of its character. I have no idea what it might have meant to the former owner.

The other day, when I was attempting to rewire the stereo to the auxiliary battery, I found this tape, covered in layers of dust, wedged into the deep cavern under the driver’s seat. These guys are a gospel group, and this album sounds kind of like a holy mashup of Curtis Mayfield meets the O’Jays.

In the rear closet was a prom picture of a Latino couple tucked into the little clip-on mirror. I wished I’d kept it to share with you!

Every time I look, I find something else tucked into one of the nooks and crannies of this old van. Each little item is a ghost of the former owners, of the van’s former lives.

What cool freebies came with your current car or Curbside Classic? Ever found anything cool as you were going through your vehicle?