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10 things every air cooled VW Bug owner will encounter at some point, and how to deal with them. Part 1.

First we should qualify our title and make sure you understand that the following list is absolute fact!!… with several intentional un-truths and exaggerations thrown in for peaceful purposes only, ok?….OK.

In just a few months I will be 14 years in my 1958 Type 1. It took some doing but she is dialed in pretty good and is a semi-reliable daily driver. (note:  word “reliable” used with extreme trepidation).  Over the course of nearly 5,110 days of driving her I like many of you have had my share of encounters, or situations, or “oh snap!” moments.  I wrote down a few of them off the top of my head and once my list got to 37 items I thought it would be cool to just pull out 10 to talk about, so…here goes.


10: The “I had a (something ridiculous)” statement.

There’s gonna come a day when you’re going to be at a car show for example and some fella is gonna come up to take a look at your car.  He’s gonna ask you what you got “under the hood” (your first indicator) and then he’s gonna proceed to tell you that he had an “all original 1972 oval window bug with a Porsche triple barrel Hemi 336 in it.” He will say it as a matter of fact and then pause so you can reply.

Here’s what you do:

First look at what he’s wearing.  If he has on anything VW, he’s probably pulling your leg and he’s just not good at cynicism or dry wit.  Not his fault, it happens.  If that’s the case, laugh.  You’ll realize you’re talking to a family member and you guys can shoot the poop and have a nice day.

If he appears to be serious about his 336 Hemi, you should nod, and say something like, “Wow man. Sounds awesome.” Then fake a phone call to your barber or cry.  There’s not much else you’re gonna be able to do with this guy….sorry.


9: The infamous “clutch cable decides to break and everyone and their momma knows how to drive a bug home without a cable in it.” talk.

So inevitably you’re gonna be driving down the road listening to the All Good Funk Alliance or some other insanely cool music and you go to drop your road rocket into 4th. You hear a pop and your clutch pedal hits the floor. Broke. Crap. *!$!*. OK, now starts the “I read the Idiot Book and I know I can limp my car to Chirco or wherever to get it fixed fun time.” I’ll skip the details, but it’s horrible.  You suck at no clutching.  You live in a town with no crosstown freeway so you herky jerky buck-jump light to light for 3 miles which takes 7 hours. You get to your destination where every air cooled VW owner you have ever known is just hanging out eating little smokies or whatever, and they ALL gotta tell you how they drove a bug with no clutch cable over the Himalayas once because they had a friend that flunked outta Batman school or whatever.

Yes this situation can be annoying, here’s how to handle it:

You just smile and agree.  You know deep down that it sucks for all of us.  I like to mentally start working on the fish-tale I’m gonna spin when I’m not the broken clutcher.  There’s comfort in that.  It’s part of being a VW person…own it.


8: The kid(s) wants to look at your car moment.

At some point you will be with your car.  Maybe at a gas station, or a plant nursery, or outside your foot massagers house and someone is going to pull up next to your car and say something like “My kid(s) wanted to see your car.”

There’s really only one reply:

No matter what you are doing, or have going on, no matter what emergency (aside from medical or Arizona basketball of course) you let them kids look at your car!  You act nice about it and even when the little girl sticks her pineapple dum-dum sticky saliva covered hands on your decklid, you say “oh…hey hey sweetie…it’s too “insert mild mannered adjective” to touch.”

Now…you do this because one of the kids you come across is you when you were that age, and that little crusty nosed flesh bag of destruction may in fact be a member of the next VW generation.  This moment with your car could be the moment that puts them on the path.  Remember that.  Be polite and tell them you gotta go.  Rev your engine lightly or toot your horn when you leave.  Enjoy your melted heart.  This is a good thing.


7: The MYCAH (My Car Ain’t Herbie!) anger management situation.

This is a little tricky and kind of goes hand in hand with #8 sometimes.

My car is named Mistie because I enjoyed MST3K and fans were known as Misties (sometimes spelled with a Y).  She’s my pride and joy and I love her.  Many of you have named your car(s) and we all know that air cooled VWs more than any other car on the road really ooze personality.  So, it’s common to feel a tinge of GRRRR when someone says “LOOK IT’S HERBIE!!” when your car is Orange with a white stripe and lifted and etc. etc.

Here’s how you handle it:

If it’s a kid or parent with kids and you are in the midst of situation #7, you gotta let it go. (please do not sing that song….I’m serious…don’t.  ???? )  You gotta realize that to many people Herbie is the only name they know for a VW.  It’s a connection strengthener.  It’s a bond builder.  You just nod and smile.

If you actually have a Herbie replica you have many options here.  You can spin on your back, eat a fish sandwich, or you can chuckle and rub your soft underbelly.  It’s cool to see their eyes light up when they see and recognize an actual Herbie.  Soak it in…enjoy the moment.

If it’s your friends that are messing with you, and giving you a hard time about your car again, it’s appropriate to punch them in the nose or rapidly accelerate your extended booted leg, and create a blunt force situation in their nether-regions.  Just sayin.  ????


6: The horrific “I’m 276 and I gotta tell you in surprisingly vivid detail about an intimate tryst or 7 I had in the back of a VW 256 years ago…and ironically last week!!” situation.

Ok, look people.  These cars have been around for a long loooong time.  These cars are a culturally significant part of every ummm…lets call them “revolutions” since the 40’s.  There’s not a lot of room in the back seat, but ummm….passion is a foundation of creativity and well…you get the gist.  All that means is at some point you’re gonna be walking out of the post office, or mowing the rocks in your yard, or heck you might be just standing there wondering why your knees don’t bend the other way and some person is gonna walk up to you and ask you if this is your car.  You’re gonna say yes because you can never…NEVER deny it.  Once you do that the person is going to proceed to tell you a story about something they did in the back of a bug that is unrepeatable.  You’re gonna be tamping down the urge to vomit like there’s no tomorrow, and halfway through their story (the 40 minute mark) you’re gonna be trying to grow new muscles in your inner ear so you can just shut them from the inside without the person seeing.  You’re going to wonder why they aren’t embarrassed, but you know it’s about the car so you can understand.  Finally you hear them say “…and after the paramedics got there and found that by removing the glove box I could move my leg again so we were able to get out, and that’s why we named our triplets “Throw-Out Bearing, Gland Nut, and Mike.”!

How do you reply?

The old “Hey what’s that?!! point in a random direction so they will look and you can un-tamp” won’t work…trust me.  You’ll end up with a messy shirt and some explainin to do.

Your best course is to just say “Wow! I didn’t know that was possible.  Hey I think the earth is about to stop rotating.  I need to get home and feed my cat before I’m hurled into space.  Great story!”  get in your car, do not look in the back seat as that will cause immediate recall and go somewhere….anywhere.  When you get there.  Sob gently.  There is no cure my friend.  It’s part of the car.  ????

That’s a good stopping point for part 1.  We’ll get after part 2 soon.  Hopefully you found something in this article that will help you manage those situations as you come across them.

More soon.


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