Dec 03, 2018
When I was 23 or 24, my boyfriend and I received a gift from his dad. Now, this was a man who was known for more than the occasional impulse purchase. So when we arrived at his house in Connecticut to find a 1974 Volkswagen Beetle, half rusted out (is there any other kind?), we weren't surprised. The kicker? He had bought it for us. Yay?
It was faded candy apple red, with a black interior, and was well ventilated. Which meant that the floor was rusted through, providing a stiff breeze that kept your feet nice and cool. But hey, it was only $300!
We graciously accepted our cute new car, and began work on getting it running smoothly. Which basically meant changing the oil, filling it with gas and hoping for the best.
We drove our little bug back to Albany where we lived, and parked it in front of our townhouse apartment. It was the perfect car for us because both of us walked to work. When we did drive it, it was usually to head back to Connecticut to visit our parents. Now, if you know anything about VW Bugs, you know they never won any awards for their ability to keep their occupants warm. This one was no exception. A small amount of heat did come through the floor vents, but the windshield was hopelessly iced over. We kept an ice scraper handy, for use inside the vehicle while driving. At one point, we attempted to divert the heat to the windshield by fashioning flexible tubing from the heat vents on the floor, and snaking it up around the dashboard to the windshield. It looked like some weird fat snake was trying to hitch a ride.
Other than that, it was a fun little car. I especially loved how accessible the engine was. I could change the oil while I had dinner on the stove and be back in the kitchen before the rice was done. It was also super easy to fix the emergency break cable with a large paperclip. Which I had to do on several occasions.
We soon bought our first (and only) brand new car, and sold the Bug for $150. Thinking about that red VW Bug makes me think of my boyfriend's dad, who became my father-in-law and the grandfather of my children. He never lost his penchant for impulse purchases, and over the years, many of them were gifts for my kids. He was loved as much as any grandpa could be loved, and he gave me an appreciation for giving old things a new life. Even rusty things.