It was the Spring and I had $3500 in my pocket to spend on a project car. Growing up I had always worked on and built muscle cars with my step-dad. So naturally I was looking for a project muscle car to buy with my money. I had come across a few and went and looked at a couple but nothing spoke to me. While searching through Craigslist I come across a yellow 73 VW Super Beetle. I have always liked vintage Volkswagens and the Beetle in particular. Since I wasn't having much luck finding anything in the muscle car scene I decided to go look at the Super Beetle. I arrived at the seller's house to look at this Bug and it was love at first site. I loved everything all the way down to the old vintage smell in the interior. I had to have it so I paid the man and took my Bug home.
At first, it appeared to be a bone stock 73 Super Beetle. Nothing custom or aftermarket on the car. Being me, I started to make the car my own. First was to give the stock 1600 some love with a good tune up. Over the next year I changed out the stock wheels for some fat lipped Empi 8 spokes, put on new running boards, a roof rack, recovered the front seats, installed a new dash pad cover, all new brakes and Empi adjustable struts up front lowering the front end 3 inches. Last but not least I discovered I was driving a true Sports Bug!
There was a discussion on FaceBook about Sports Bugs. Someone mentioned that Sport Bugs were made in March and April of 1973 and come in 2 colors: Saturn Yellow and Marathon Blue Metallic. A V.I.N. range was also given. Curious, I went out to check my Bug since it was a yellow 1973 Super Beetle. To my surprise, the color code tag in the trunk said L13M. My date of manufacture tag in the driver door jamb said 3/73. Finally my V.I.N fell within the range of V.I.N.'s that Sports Bugs were made with. It finally made sense why some of my trim pieces were black and why my car come with sport wheels and a sport steering wheel.
This past year I put all new brake lines in, added some vintage IAP Japan yellow fog lights, amber glass headlights, pop out quarter windows, clear front signal lenses and smoked taillight lenses and I lowered the rear of the car 3 inches. With the help of some good friends, I also pulled the motor to install a new clutch assembly and resealed it to clean up the oil leaks. Now onto the last but best part of my story. May 2017, I met AJ Batista, who owns a 72 Standard Beetle, on a Volkswagen page on FaceBook. We didn't know each other but happened to live in the same town. As we were talking one day, we both agreed that we wanted to start a local air cooled Volkswagen group for like-minded people in our area to be able to get together, talk about our cars and lend one another a hand working on them. The next day East Tennessee Air Cooled was born. Or ETAC for short.
We slowly started out with just a couple of members chatting on our FaceBook page. We started holding meets and went to every Volkswagen car show that was remotely close to us. Through word of mouth, handing out lots of business cards with our group's name on them, East Tennessee Air Cooled decals on our cars and any other form of advertising we could think of our group has grown to 260 members from East Tennessee in less than a year! We now have monthly meet and greets, been a part of parades and car shows and have all become a close-knit air-cooled VW family.