VW Beetle, aka, The Bug ©

Shinazy Shinazy
I thought of my VW as a member of my family. For 38 years I could rely on it. My children grew-up in those seats: from baby-car-seat to passenger seat - but never driver seat, that was my seat ;-)

There are so many more stories to tell ... and this is one of them.


It’s December 1969 and I’m writing a check for $1,700 – I’m now the proud owner of a Tan Volkswagen Beetle, equipped with a powerful 54 hp engine and an Automatic Stick Shift transmission. Yes, VW made automatics, actually semi-automatics, I still shifted through the gears, but no choreographing my feet, as there was no clutch pedal – Hallelujah. However, this improvement decreased the power, but it was easier to operate. And operate it I did, for the next 38 years.

My bug became part of my identity, a major piece of my history.

For one of my daughter’s birthdays, I hauled 11 pre-teen girls and my friend Jean to play miniature golf. As I stood in the driveway staring at the car, then at the mob of girls, then the car . . . “How was I ever going to get all of us into that tiny space?” College students crammed themselves into phone booths; I should be able to do the same, but with a higher level of comfort and safety. Like logs in a cord of wood I stacked the girls, they thought this was the best part of the day.

Every Christmas there was the excursion to the tree farm. Folks in the parking lot with their trucks and station wagons would stare as I lashed a tree, longer and wider than my Beetle, onto the roof and proceeded to secured it with lines and knots that would hold the Titanic to any dock.

One Labor Day, returning from Volcano, CA, roasting in stop-n-go traffic, my son and I decided a water fight would be a welcomed activity. While sitting inside the car – a plastic interior has its advantages – we splashed each other until we looked like it had just rained. There we sat, all wet and smiling and cool. We stopped at every gas station to refill our bottles … and the battle continued.

Although there were many joyous experiences, the lack of power was always an issue.

When my son finally weighed 100 pounds I stopped parking the VW in the up hill direction. It’s hilly here so this parking technique was …if not impossible, at least, impractical. Whenever it was the two of us in the VW, I would have him walk to the corner and wait for me; I’d eventually get there. And then, there was that incident when his grandmother was a passenger and he had to give the VW a push to get the bug moving.

During the entire 38 years I lived in the Bay Area where freeway on-ramps were driveway entrances to bumper-car traffic. And, of course around here anywhere I went I encountered undulating streets. All of this resulted in me driving in the slow lane watching cars flash by at the posted speed limit.

Every few years, when I just could not take it any more, I’d decide to “buy a fast car.” After a few months the urge would pass and I’d continued to be passed. But in 2007 that ended. Oh, did it ever … zoom, zoom.

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Daniel Pinna Absolutely great story! My Aunt lived in the Bay Area and was BIG fan of the old VW bugs!
Nov 14, 2012 · Reply

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