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Scott's 1973 Super Beetle
My first introduction
to Volkswagen was at 9 years of age when my father purchased his first
new 1957 Rag Top Beetle. I was fascinated with this "little"
car, from its intriguing body style with retractable sun roof, to
the lever in the firewall that had to be turned with your feet for
the reserve tank of gas. My dad had a gas blower heater installed
as the cold winter weather of South Dakota was too brutal for the
stock "heater" to keep passengers comfortably warm. He was
a traveling salesman and I remember numerous cars he purchased over
the years, which hold many unforgettable memories, but none that could
surpass this unique, dark grey little car they called a "Beetle".
My father was on the road most of the time and I worshiped the ground
he walked on and wanted to spend more time with him. During the summer
months while on vacation from school I would travel along with him
and just watch and learn all the fun things about how this car was
driven and how my dad made it seem to me like it was the most incredible
automobile ever built. I loved the sound of the engine, the way the
windshield wipers worked, the way it shifted and the odd way you had
to get it into reverse gear. The smells and sounds were unique, which
are only Volkswagen, from the heat coming off the engine to the squeaking
front luggage compartment deck lid opening and closing. I so vividly
remember the smell of gasoline as it was dispensed into the tank inside
the luggage compartment.
I studied my father intently and I learned how to drive by observing.
He used to let me "steer" but I wanted more; I wanted to
drive. He said I could as he understood the strong desire of a young
boy who wants to get in the drivers seat. I was 10 years old when
I got to drive for the very first time and I remember it well. We
were in Cheyenne, WY and my father was doing business on the Warren
Air Force Base property when he spotted an open field with a dirt
road that seemed to go forever. He stopped that coveted VW, pulled
the drivers seat up as far as it would go and placed a big Denver,
CO phone book onto the driver's seat to help boost me up. Since much
of his sales business was headquartered in Denver he always had an
updated phone book for reference inside the car with him as he could
never count on finding one inside those metropolitan phone booths.
The smile on my face would have put "Clarabell the Clown"
to shame. I was euphoric but not to the point of nervous as this was
my dream; to drive like my dad and to drive his VW. So, on to the
seat I went and I couldn't wait to turn on the engine. Yes, I know
I should have put my seat belt on first but cars back then did not
come with them. I pressed down on the clutch as instructed by my father,
turned on the key and put the transmission in 1st gear; the engine
was running and now the control of that beastly 36 horsepower motor
Now all I had to do was perform the coordinated task of getting this
little car to move by letting out gently on the clutch while also
tenderly pressing down on the accelerator. Well, let the games begin!
For those of you who have ever driven a car with a stick shift you
know what I mean. You stall it, you jerk it, you peel out, you make
your passenger bump his/her head on the windshield, but you continue
to do everything thing you can to finally get the car into motion.
At last, we are rolling and life is good! And now it was time to shift
into 2nd gear as I was up to the tremendous speed of 15 mph. Shifting
from 1st to 2nd proved a bit challenging but not as much as getting
started in 1st. We are approaching 30 mph, it's time to shift into
3rd gear and away we go. I was having the time of my life; spending
time with my dad and driving for the first time and driving
a VW for the first time! Since the dirt road was bumpy and full of
ruts and holes I never made it into 4th gear that day but it didn't
matter because I was having the time of my life. Since experiencing
this first VW in our family there have been several. My father owned
9 Beetles, 2 Ghias, and 2 Buses. My first VW was purchased with money
I earned as a door-to-door salesman at the age of 16 which was a 1957
black Cabriolet Beetle with white convertible top. Since then I have
owned 2 Squarebacks, 1 Fastback, and 2 Super Beetles. There has continually
been a Volkswagen in my life for the past 51 years. The last VW I
purchased is the 1973 Super Beetle featured in this story.
This car was manufactured in Wolfsburg, Germany in June of 1973, shipped
to Houston, TX, railed to VW's San Antonio, TX distributor, and then
transported by truck to the Heuberger Volkswagen dealership in Colorado
Springs, CO. On July 25, 1973, I purchased this vehicle for $2,643.25
plus $67.75 in delivery charges, adding another $272.00 of original
VW accessories. Today, the car is insured for $33,000 and resides
with me in Destin, FL. I moved to the Florida Panhandle in September
of 1990, but my VW remained in storage in Cheyenne, WY until 1998.
In March of 1998 the car was filled with gas, sported a new battery
and was started for the first time in over 8 years. At that time it
was loaded on a car carrier and headed to Florida. The rest is history.
This car is driven only to car shows and briefly 2-3 times per month
to keep the seals lubricated and battery charged. Total miles driven
this year have been an astounding 278. My future plans for this VW
will continue to include car shows specializing in either VWs or classic
stock vehicles. Since the car will undoubtedly outlive me, I plan
to drive it more and enjoy all the efforts I have made in keeping
it "new" as it presumably takes more time and effort to
keep a car original than to restore one.
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