(first posted 9/21/2017) Back in the Spring, when, according to the Good Book, “kings go off to war”, I hauled the Esposita out to the local VW car show. She tolerates this annual religious pilgrimage with good humor, possibly because I keep the AC functioning on her car during our ungodly hot summers, and we spent a delightful, to me, morning prowling the V-dub heaps as I re-lived my youthful faded glory that mainly exists in my mind.
It’s a typical VW show. Legions of Cal Dubs with their tiny nerf bars, a host of stockers, the type 2, 3 and 4’s in mass. Fine and scuzzy Karman Ghias. Westys and Bajas. It’s nice and all, but I have to admit it gets a tad predictable. Organized VW religion can be like that eh? I’m always on the lookout for something unusual, like a really early type 1, they had a late 40’s one once and I got super excited. This year was looking pretty mainstream though, no serious oldies, nothing really strange, was about time to start thinking of lunch. Maybe a burger or taco. Hmm.
But as we rounded a bend my pulse skyrocketed!
“Oh my God!” I sputtered out, “It’s..oh wow…wow…oh SWEET!”
“Huh?” my wife said, puzzled at my sudden and inexplicable excitement over yet another Bug, “What are you talking about?”
“It’s…I…oh wow…it’s a new one!” I helpfully clarified.
“Huh? Where?” as she looked about for one of those stupid re-skinned Golfs that… that entity that calls itself “Volkswagen” these days has the bald-faced audacity to dare christen “Beetle” which, fortuitously, are banned from the show and cast into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of gears.
Nope, not one of those charlatans, but a real Bug. And new.
Now if you, like I, have focused your considerable autistic skills of hyper-focus and legerdemain on knowing the exact differences between every single year of VW type 1’s sold in the US of A from 1949-79 then you would have immediately noted that this Bug was wrong. All wrong. And that’s what was so right about it. Where were the vents behind the back windows? Why were the turn signals in the bumpers? Those wheels, the trim, wrong, and it looked brand new. Dear Lord, this was one of the Mexican ones, and a late model as well.
The sign in the window said it was a 2003 model! The last of them all! This my friends, was the Holy Grail of Bugs. What we, the few remaining faithful clinging to the skeletal corpse of air-cooled Volkswagen are willing to worship with tithes and offerings and supplications.
But how could it be here? These Bugs are forbidden fruit, verboten, can’t be imported until they are 25 years old because Uncle Sugar knows best. Meaning, of course, we won’t be able to roll in an 03′ Beetle until the year 2028 when most of us reading this will be drooling on our wheelchairs while our care nurse tries to wipe our chin.
Luckily for me the owner was right at hand to explain all and more. He was about age 35, and his wife and kiddo were there as well and they were all looking like they’d stepped right out of a telenovela, handsome, beautiful, fashionable and sizzling sexy.
The Bug was one of the last made, it had about 6k kilometers on it, whatever that is in Freedom Miles™ I dunno but it’s not much as the car looked, and still smelled, new. It was registered in Mexico, where the owner had a home in Mexico City. When he was in the Central California area, aka the land that God forgot, where he also had a home, it was trailered up. He keeps it babied, and it lives in garages in both countries, has never seen rain, or even the road much. Needless to say this man was a True Believer in the church of the air-cooled, and we fellowshipped together at the altar of Flat Four.
And it has factory AC! I took some pics for you to fawn over, I know you will, the AC vents under the dash, (Yay) the compressor setup (Ooooh). It worked great! He fired it up for me, sweet runner, to hear that engine purr was akin to the heavenly choir, and then he turned on the AC. I’m here to testify that a type 1 can have real, honest-to-dog, cold air blowing out of the dash. Can I get an amen?!
There are some intriguing differences with this late model car and the 77′ sedan models, the last regular Bugs we got here in America. It’s not an inglourious bastard Superbeetle (VW’s 1971-79′ pitiful attempt to “modernize” the Bug that resulted in an unholy swelling of the upper parts) so no silly struts for the front suspension but torsion bars like all Sanctified Bugs have. The steering wheel and seats are, of course changed, while the dash is right out of the late 60’s redo. Lots more for you eagle-eyed readers to spy and labor over.
And bonus! He also owned a 1999 type 2 and it was also at the show! Here’s some snaps of it. Water cooled, factory AC, also smelled like new. This man is a hero. He has fought the good fight, he has finished the course, he has kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for him a crown of righteousness, for this is one righteous VW dude. Amen and amen.
Seeing these VWs was delightful, a spiritual experience for the Compleat VW Idiot. One of the greatest moments of my short, miserable, smelly life. I have seen, and even touched, a piece of the reward that awaits all those who hold to the faith. I can now die happy.