After that I had an empty spot in my garage for a while, and nothing seemed to catch my interest. Until one day my wife and I were driving through Mississauga and we came across a young guy working on a totally customized vintage VW Beetle. Mariano's 1975 Super Beetle was done up in a beautiful teal colour with a white leather interior, slammed, de-chromed, Porsche wheels, and a hot motor. I had never seen an air-cooled Volkswagen that looked like this. He told us of a VW event that was being held near Kitchener the next weekend and invited us along. When we arrived at the "11th Annual Bug Out" we were shocked to see over a hundred vintage VWs of every description. There were stock Beetles, customized ones, Campers, Karmann Ghias and other Volkswagens dating back to the early 1950s. Everyone was very friendly and before we left the show we decided that a vintage Beetle was going to be our next car. I spent the next month traveling all over Ontario, looking at every Beetle that I found for sale in the local newspaper, online, and in the Auto Trader magazine. From visiting various web sites, I knew where to look for rust and how to tell a good prospect from a basket case. After checking out over ten Beetles I began to lose hope, it seems that winters in Ontario are hard on the Beetles floor pans and heater channels. I could have bought one and started a ground up restoration but something told me to keep looking.
That summer my wife and I took a vacation to Vancouver to visit our neighbors that had moved there due to work obligations. Before we left home I promised that I would spend no more than two days trying to find that elusive Beetle in the salt free streets of British Columbia. The second day was winding down and I was having no more luck out there than I did back in Ontario. We were on our way to see one last Beetle and there it was. Sitting in the used car lot of a Honda dealership was a Harvest Gold 1975 Volkswagen Super Beetle, La Grande Edition. It was late in the day and the dealership was closed so I pulled over and gave the Bug the once over through the fenced in lot, and it looked perfect. 9 am the next morning we were out on a test-drive around the block in my new find. I pulled the VW to the curb and crawled all over it. This Bug was mint! Under the front hood I found extra parts, shop manuals, receipts for repairs and a pile of VW magazines including one called VW Trends. I noticed the previous owners' phone number on an old invoice and I thought; why don't I call him? The owner was only too happy to tell me the story of his beloved Beetle and the painstaking restoration that it had gone through. He finally sold it to get a bigger car and by the end of the conversation he had convinced me to buy it from the dealership. I shipped my Beetle back home to Toronto via rail, and it took nearly two weeks to arrive. We went to the depot to pick it up and started the cruise home, enjoying the smiles and waves from people that saw it. It seems that the Volkswagen Beetle is one of the most recognized shapes in the world and even though the last Beetle was sold in 1979, little children still know the Bug.
We cruised in our Beetle every weekend and started attending air-cooled VW events all over Ontario and made friends wherever we traveled. Everyone we meet seems to have a story about his or her experience with this popular car. Whether it was scraping the ice off the inside of the front windshield or riding in that little spot behind the rear seat, the stories and smiles never seem to stop. The more Beetle owners I met, the more my fascination with the whole phenomenon grew. Doing a bit of web design where I work I decided to start a web site dedicated to the air-cooled Beetle. It became so popular that I started a second site (www.AllAirCooled.com) to help people locate parts for their own air-cooled treasures. This whole VW obsession was really beginning to pickup speed so I contacted VW Trends in California. Before long I became a contributing editor for the magazine, writing VW event coverage, articles and features. Recently I had my "History of the Super Beetle" published in a book called "The Volkswagen Super Beetle Handbook" and an article about the June Jitter Bug VW Show printed in the Toronto Star newspaper. Who would have ever thought that a leisurely drive on a summers day could have led me down this path? But every time I see a stranger smile at my Beetle or see a group of kids playing punch-buggy, I'm glad it did.