Episode 12. Volkswagen Beetle XPF 757S.

Whilst I am thinking about it I thought that I might aswell prattle on a little more about the VW Beetle. This time however I don't want to discuss my Brothers basket case of a restoration project, I want to write about my own Beetle, and my first foray into air-cooled Volkswagen ownership, I must admit I never got the Beetle thing... Of course I'd looked at them, but I could never quite see what all the fuss was about. Yes of course it has classic styling, but to be honest, they're never going to be the best car in the world are they, and with that power plant, they're never going to set the world alight!

When I was a boy there was a fella who lived on my road, and he had one. It was a 1972 Beetle in metallic blue. I think that he had pretty much bought it when it was brand new, and he used it for absolutely everything. It was his daily driver, and he ferried his family around in it both far and wide. As far as I know he kept this thing of beauty until the day he died, and used it up until that day.

Various friends of mine also had Beetles, and they loved them, I got to ride in them and the whole time I just couldn't see it, what was the attraction for these old, slow, cold, and for the most part a far as my friends Beetles were concerend, pretty damn unreliable cars. Although, to be fair to the Beetle, all of our cars, no matter what manufacturer they came from were pretty damn unreliable at the time!

I survived through the whole Cal-Look era, when modified Beetles were practically on every corner without feeling the need to own one. Don't get me wrong, I thought they were pretty easy on the eye, maybe even a bit cute, or even cool. But that was as far as it went, at one time it seemed as though you couldn't even go on a cruise without passing atleast one air cooled Volkswagen broken down by the side of the road. I remember one year on the Run to the Sun there was a trail of broken down Beetles that could've been seen from space like the Great Wall Of China! Why oh why would I ever want one? But the funny thing was that friends who I knew who owned Beetles would talk about them fondly. They would recall tales of regular breakdowns, and hours spent waiting for the AA or RAC to come and collect them, and then in the same breath say how wonderful their Beetle was, how fantastic Beetles, and for that matter aircooled Volkwagens in general are, and how much they missed having one in their life.

However the thing is, that in my opinion if you are into cars, as I am, then there are certain cars that you should own. One of those cars is the Volkswagen Beetle. It had got to the point when there was just one thing for it. Join the RAC, get full coverage with all the bells and whistles, then take a deep breath, and plunge headlong into Beetle ownership. I told my friends about my plans to become a Beetle owner, their combined response was, I hope you like breaking down a lot! I flashed them my shiny new RAC membership card, and headed off with a smile to find my Beetle! This is what I bought, a 1977 Beetle Karmann cabriolet with a 1600cc aircooled engine! Fast it was not, cool it definately was though! I collected it from the middle of nowhere on a dark, cold, rainy, windy November night, and as I usually do I asked the seller if there were any problems I should be aware of. No he said, it's in good running order. My second question was do all the gauges work properly, including the fuel gauge. Yes he said, they all work properly! Excellent, off we go then! My Brother (the Beetle owner) had driven me to collect the Beetle, and he said that before we go anywhere, he needed fuel. At the petrol station my Brother asked me if I was getting petrol? No need I said, the gauge says it's full, and I clicked this happy snap on my phone...

Are you sure? He asked again, and I rememinded him that the seller said everything worked ok, including the fuel gauge! 15 miles later as I coasted to a halt in the pouring rain, and pitch black on a busy M25 those words came back to haunt me! My brother, was ahead of me, so as I sat there wishing that I hadn't believed a word that damn lying b'stard of a seller said, I phoned my brother. He picked up, and asked what was up? My response was that my Beetle was perfect in every way, but could he come and tow me? Understandably he wondered why if my Beetle was so good, would I need a tow. Well, I said, I think I've run out of petrol. His response was, What? When you had a full tank just fifteen miles ago? That's a very uneconomical car! Yes it is, I quipped back, now please come and get me! Fortunately for me my Brother decided to go to the petrol station, buy a can, fill it with petrol, then return to me. This all took the best part of an hour, and believe me, an hour is a very long time in the dark and rain beside a busy motorway with big trucks racing by just inches from me all the time! As I sat there waiting for my Brother to rescue me I started to wonder about what else the seller my have been, lets say economical with the truth about! I looked around... Hmm, so the fuel gauge doesn't work, I wonder if its as rust free as he said? I wonder if the hood is in as good condition as he said? I wondered if the engine was as good as he had said!? It really was lashing down outside! I got my crappy phone out and started to use the even crappier torch on it to see how much water was coming in through the hood! To my surprise, not a drop, infact there was no evedence of water ingress anywhere! I had a real good look too, but nothing, it was as dry as a bone inside my Beetle, and outside I was expecting to see a bearded man with an Ark loading it with animals two by two at any moment! My Brother arrived! Luckily for me it was dark and raining, so farcebook was not flooded with pictures of me broken down by the side of the road because I'd ran out of petrol! Somedays you have to be thankful for small mercies! Before long I had installed my new gallon of petrol, and we headed off once more into the night. Next stop, a Petrol station!

The thing was I kept this Beetle for seven months, and it wasn't the summer months, I kept it from Novemeber to May, and that first time I drove it was the only time it let me down! Infact, it didn't even let me down then, I was let down by it's previous owner, and my own stupidity for believing him! I used this car as my daily driver, I used it all day, every day, and in every kind of weather, rain, sleet, snow, and yes, even sun! It never ever let me down. Everything, and I mean everything worked as it should (apart from the fuel gauge). The engine, although no powerhouse, provided plenty of power to propel the little thing along and would even keep up with the traffic. The interior was big enough, and even comfortable enough for me and my little family, even on longer journeys, it was even warm and dry when the roof was up! The roof worked perfectly, infact it was folded down quite regularly while I had it as I'd never had a convertible before, and really wanted to reap it's benefits while I had it. One day the weather was so changeable that the roof was up and down like a whores knickers! The whole mechanism worked flawlessly, and once up it wasn't noisey, it was water tight, and there wasn't even a hint of a draught!

In short, my Beetle experience was awesome. I couldn't fault this perfect little car even if I wanted to! It was good to drive, obviously it wasn't fast but it was fun to drive. It was comfortable, with the roof up I had ample headroom, and with it down I guess I had about 93 million miles of headroom, and got to feel the wind in my scalp! All of this and it's wrapped in a body that can only be considered as Ferdinand Porsche's masterpiece! After owning this thing of beauty it had really got under my skin and I really could see how they get under everyone elses skin. It's not just a car, its a Beetle, it's a way of life!

I  must admit I never got the Beetle thing... Until I owned this one. I just loved it, it was fabulous!