Near the end of december of 2012 I found the perfect car. Perfect in my eyes that is. The Volkswagen Beetle had many shades of yellow, quite a bit of rust and a gearbox only happy when going forward.
Two years before that I had taken a gap year after graduating from middle school. My girlfriend and I went on a long kitesurfing holiday in Brazil. The sound and simplicity of the buggies that everyone there drove stuck with me. Add that up to that just before buying the car I had done a ten week internship at a classic car garage and my choice might become a little more clear.
After happily driving around and fixing little things whenever needed, it was time for a challenge. We set our course for the south of France for a nice and relaxing summer holiday. The trip there went alright. The starter motor quit at the second or third gas stop and the rain came in through every possible gap due to the heavy side wind. For a low budget car with minimal maintenance that was considered a successful trip and a free workout for the girlfriend.
“We got stranded on the side of a French highway with a shaky car running on three cylinders”
The starter motor was easily fixed with a mild tap with a hammer and after a week or two we were all packed up and ready to head home. I’d like to say that we got quite far, but that just isn’t true. We got stranded on the side of a French highway with a shaky car running on three cylinders. It was like we were on another planet. Communication was in increasing struggle with every new person that we met that day.
It all ended up with the car being transported back to the Netherlands for free. We only found out that the Dutch road service that I was a member of did this if a vehicle was stranded somewhere and could not be fixed within a day or so. The French garage never pulled the spark plugs, and apparently one was bent shut. Apart from a fresh set of spark plugs, the car had deserved some new oil and a little love.
At one point I started to love the look of all those stanced Beetles on the internet. There were loads of them, being driven often as well. So I ordered a lowering kit and some smaller tires and got started.
It is all good fun until you can’t really leave the garage, or even get the jack under the car. Here in the Netherlands we also love speed bumps and do enjoy our occasional random pothole. Life went from “Look how awesome my car is now” to “We just got overtaken by a cyclist”. After scraping about for a couple of weeks and even scraping on most highways I had had it. I can now say that I am completely cured from the stance life.
My garage suggested that I should start looking for a new car when I brought her in for her periodic inspection, about a year and a half ago. Even though they had fixed up some rusty areas, the rusty bits were getting worse and worse.
It might not make much sense financially, or even emotionally to some people. But I believe that she shouldn’t just be scrapped because no one feels like repairing her. That is why she will be my long term project.