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Is there anything harder to forget than either your first really hard crush or your first car?  I don't think so.  And since I just paid an outrageous amount of money to have my "economy car" tuned up, I find myself waxing poetic, and reminiscing fondly, about my first car.  It was a '69 VW bug.  It was both my first car, and the only car I ever owned that I could actually work on.  Nanette, on the other hand,was the first girl that made my 12 year old body turn summersaults, and I have never forgotten her.  If I had any artistic talent, I could still paint her face.  But though I remember you as if it were yesterday, Nan, as I grew older, my familiarity with women increased, while my familiarity with cars seemed to decrease.

I look back upon both Nan and my first car, that beat up '69 Bug, and wonder sometimes..."Who's driving them now."

I now own a used Hyundai Sonata.  It's ten years old.  I can't work on it, and there hasn't been a car that I could work on since my first '69 Beetle.  My Sonata is a six cylinder auto that, over the past course of 30 years of auto evolution has managed to engineer, hide and sequester the spark plugs, or at least half of them, underneath serious structural obstacles in the engine.  You can't change the plugs without taking the car to a mechanic.   And isn't that, in retrospect, what has driven auto technology over the past 40 years?

The VW Bug had to die, I would suggest...because it was so damned easy to work on at home.   Hell, it's the only car I could do anything with, and I could do plenty with it...and I have two left hands.

I blow a kiss to my old VW...and I blow a kiss to you, too, Nan.  I remember both of you fondly, in distinctly different ways.

I bought my VW Bug in 1975.  It was already 6 years old.  Or was it?  Given the way that VW's could be regenerated and recycled, who knows?  If you blew the engine, you could buy a new one and have it dropped into your body for relatively little money.  If you tore up the body?  Buy a new "shell" and drop your still good engine into it.  It was easy to do, and inexpensive.  I wonder if that didn't have something to do with the Bug's demise?

It may have been too economical.  But maybe that's me and my own tendency to subscribe to CT's.

I once hit a deer at night, which caved in my front right fender.  I collected myself, got out and inspected the damage...pulled the fender up off of the tire and drove home.  The next week, I went to the VW dealer, paid about $45 as I remember for a new fender, and replaced it myself.  The fenders were held on with bolts, with a rubber gasket, that came with the new fender from the dealer.

O could tune that Beetle myself.  Points and plugs were inexpensive, and I could actually gap my spark plugs using a simple tool, replace them, replace the points and brusk the contacts lightly inside of the distributor...and voila!  The oil drain plug was easily found, and the clearance of a Bug was such that you could slide underneath, loosen the drainplug, and change the oil without driving the damned thing up onto ramps.

Hell...when you opened the hood on a VW, the entire engine was just right there in your face, and everything was both visible and accessible.  I open the hood on my car these days, and it takes me several minutes just to find the goddamned dip stick to check the oil.  And forget about changing it.  The starter?  I couldn't tell you where it is.  But I changed on once on a VW.  

Part of the problem is repair manuals.  They are incomprehensible.  The best repair manual ever written, bar none, is "The Compleat Idiot's Guide To Keeping Your Volkswagen Alive."  There were no small black and white photos...there were drawings.  It was written in language that even the most mechanically challenged person could understand.  I used it for many years...and it lived up to its title.  It kept my bug alive.

It also instilled in me a fleeting sense that I, too, could work on cars.  But that ended as soon as I got rid of my VW and bought something else.  I was never able to work on another car like I could work on that Beetle...and over the years, as the engine compartments just got more crammed...I gave up altogether.  I don't even change my own oil anymore.

The VW invited you to work on it.  My Hyundai dares you to even try, and hints at disaster if you should take up that dare.

I miss that old Bug.  It wasn't the classiest ride across town...but it got me there and back, and it was economical, and I could work on it...which was satisfying in some respects.

My Dad was stingy when it came to dispensing pearls of useful wisdom, but the one true thing he drilled into my head at an early age was this:  "A car isn't an investment...it's an expense."

It is very true.  And looking back...that VW was the least expensive car I've ever owned.

Originally posted to Keith930 on Tue Jan 24, 2012 at 07:13 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fuel injection, pollution controls, electronic... (6+ / 0-)

    ...ignition, etc., have conspired against us. An electric car would lack much of this, but I doubt the average car owner will be able to hoist out a balky battery array for a replacement. Your father was a wise man.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Tue Jan 24, 2012 at 07:26:57 PM PST

    •  Those things have also prevented the air from... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayBat, BlogDog, Rick Aucoin, jakedog42, Zinman

      ...becoming unfit for breathing.  As bad as smog is in LA today, it was worse in the 70s, and there were fewer cars on the road.  

      Those things are also why you can get four and six cylinder engines today that put out as much -- or even more -- power reliably as a V8 from the 1970s or early 80s.

      You know the Jaguar XF Supercharged puts out over 500 HP and nearly 600 ft-lbs of torque, and still gets 20 MPG on the highway and pollutes less per mile than the diarists 69 Beetle?   Try that with carburetors and analog ignition.

      Remember the days when it was universally true that a manual transmission would help you get better mileage than an automatic?  Not anymore.  The DSG autoboxes in the VW and Audi lines get better mileage than the manual, and still offer the driving benefits of a manual.  You can now get that same technology in a Ford Fiesta.  Imagine that -- technology originally developed for Formula 1 race cars is now available in a sub $20K econobox from Ford, and it gets better mileage than a manual, and better performance than an old style hydrostatic slushbox....    

      I have a Volkswagen TDi.  It gets 50 MPG or more on the highway (My personal record is 62 MPG), and thanks to the low end torque of the diesel, it'll out accelerate anything on the road that gets anywhere near the mileage it gets, and even is quick enough to surprise some bigger cars.  

      And it -- like many new cars -- is not that hard to work on.  I do everything myself.  In many ways, it's easier to diagnose and fix a problem on it than it was on older cars.  When something isn't working right, I hook it up to my laptop using a program called VCDS and the car tells me -- in plain english -- what is wrong.   I plug in the computer, and the car says something like "Reading on #2 oxygen sensor out of parameter.  Recalibrate or replace sensor."  I thin hit the "recalibrate" button.  If that works, great.  If not, I go to the VW dealer, buy the part (it's not that expensive) replace it, and hook the computer back up, run the calibration program, clear the code, and I'm done.

      Now, VCDS is a pretty sophisticated program, and only works with VW/Audi cars.  But, for under $100 you can get generic OBD scanners at auto parts stores that are universal.  They're not as slick as VCDS, but they work very similar.

      Modern fuel injection is stupid simple, really.  And since there are only a handful of companies that make it (Bosch, Marelli, Denso, Delphi) once you learn one system, you can work on dozens of different vehicles.  You have a high pressure fuel pump, a fuel rail, injectors, a pressure regulator...  The things are controlled by a few sensors -- the Air Mass Meter measures the density of the air going in, the O2 sensors measure the makeup of the gasses leaving the engine, the crank or camp position sensor measure the timing of the engine, and the brain-box takes those measurements and calculates the correct fuel dosage to maintain the correct stoichiometic ratio in the combustion chamber.  That's about it.   Once you understand those parts and how they relate to one another, you can diagnose problems pretty quickly.  

      I also owned air cooled VWs in the past.   I've also owned my fair share of "simple" or "old school" cars with carburetors and analog ignition.  The TDI blows them out of the water in reliability.   No question.  At all.  The modern cars with their electronics and stuff have lowered pollution, have made cars perform better with less fuel, and have made them easier to live with, more reliable, and in many cases they are easier to fix, not harder.  

         

      •  Yes, we got something for the tradeoff. (3+ / 0-)

        It's true that it's a damn sight harder to be a shade tree mechanic these days.  

        I used to be pretty handy with my cars.  My first car, a '69 Buick LeSabre with a 350 carbureted engine.  My second car, a '72 Gran Torino Sport with a 351 Cleveland, my third car a 1980 Grand Prix also with a V8.  My fourth car, a 69 Mustang Mach One with a 351 Windsor, my fifth car, a 79 Formula with a Pontiac 400 engine in it...

        Hell, it was 2000 before I ever owned a vehicle that didn't have a V8 in it.  My current 2000 Jeep Wrangler with a straight 6 and all the electronic ignition and such that made it so the first time I tried to change the spark plugs I accidentally pulled the fuel injectors by mistake. Gas went everywhere... embarrassing.

        People talk about the "good old days" and one of the things they talk about is cars.  "They sure don't make them like they used to.".

        No, they don't.  

        My first car, that 69 Buick LeSabre, was 12 years old when I got it.  The paint was completely gone, it had rust holes in the quarterpanels, the interior carpet and upholstry was shot to hell and the engine wouldn't run.  I eventually got it running, but you would never make that car look nice again.

        12 years old.  And it was a scrap heap.

        My Jeep Wrangler?  It's 12 years old now too.  And the black paint is still mostly shiny, though dull in spots there's no rust on the car.  I've had to put new rear-end gears into it, but that's the only major repair I've had to do in 12 years of owning it.  Well, I did have to replace the fabric soft-top after 10 years, the stitching had started to go.  

        Yeah.  They DON'T make them like they used to.  Thank god.  They make them a LOT better.

        So I can't work on my Jeep like I could work on my '69 Mustang.  That's okay.  I don't HAVE to work on my Jeep like I had to work on my '69 Mustang.  :)

        2.1 million Texans voted Democratic in the 2010 midterms. How many people in YOUR state voted D in 2010?

        by Rick Aucoin on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 05:28:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My dad is an old hot rodder from 50s and 60s... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rick Aucoin

          His first car was a '55 Chevy Bel Air that he inherited from his Aunt who died of a brain aneurysm when she was only in her mid 30s.  It was 1957, and he was 16.  

          He loved that car.  And he always loved old American Iron.  And air cooled VWs.  My parents had an old Bug when I was a tiny kid.  I was small enough to where I could fit in the little cargo area behind the rear seat.  

          Though my dad loves the old classics, he's the first to admit they were all terrible cars.  Terribly unreliable.  Terribly uneconomical.  Terribly built.  Terribly unsafe.  He used to say that the reason they changed designs every year back then was because the things fell apart after one year of ownership.  

          I think he would agree with you that they don't build 'em like they used to, and that's a good thing.  

          He no longer tinkers on cars.   He has bad arthritis in his hands, and has had surgery twice to repair a torn rotator cuff, so turning a wrench isn't really feasible anymore, as much as he loves doing it.  

          His new daily driver is a VW Golf TDi.  It's only about 10% larger on the outside compared to an original Beetle, but about 100% larger on the inside.  It has heat that works.  Even a functioning defroster.  And air conditioning.  It's quiet, rides smooth, and handles corners and brakes better than the best sports cars did in his day.  It gets better mileage and pollutes less.  The TDi diesel engine -- with proper maintenance -- is well known to last over 500,000 miles before needing an overhaul.  The old air cooled engines would never last longer than 100,000, and more likely at around 50,000 would need overhaul.  Granted, you could overhaul them on the kitchen table with a basic tool kit, but still.  

          He loves his memories of the old cars, but I'd put money on him being happier with what he has now.      

  •  I miss my '80 Pinto (5+ / 0-)

    that I had up to '92.

    I'm basing a comic character on it. It's a stalwart and reliable, if somewhat cheaply made, sentient spaceship.

    I got nostalgic enough to pick up a '79 Pinto, with nearly the same styling, and drop XR4Ti, SVO, and other fun parts into it.

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Tue Jan 24, 2012 at 07:32:42 PM PST

  •  I Got My First Bug IN 69. My 2nd Was In the 70's (15+ / 0-)

    and when it started sputtering, somehow (obviously suggestion from friends) I suspected problems with the points.

    A bread wrapper twist-tie re-aligned the points correctly and the rest of the time I owned the car I drove with that jury rig.

    My favorite story of being fleeced for being an idiot involved that car. I was late for my unskilled carpentry job so I threw my toolbelt in the back seat, dove into the bug and off I went. It was winter, the Ohio roads had been heaving so I flew over a few potholes and lumps and onto the freeway.

    Immediately the engine began to cut out, then as I slowed to a crawl it would cut back in again. Then out. So I shuddered into the first service station I could find, which was on the Black side of the freeway. The owner, probably in his late 60's, came out and asked what I wanted. I described the symptoms.

    He glanced in the window and shot back "gimme 20 bucks." I'm ignorant, not stupid, knew I was being set up so I was smiling as I gave him the 20.

    He said "move your carpenter belt away from the side over the battery, and pull the spilled nails off the battery contacts."

    I've rarely laughed that hard ever. I should've tipped the man. I hope he entertained a thousand people telling that story!

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jan 24, 2012 at 07:33:45 PM PST

  •  Totally agree on the VW manual! (11+ / 0-)

    With that book, it came down to tools, time, and parts. Today, you need a proprietary computer just to diagnose it.

    Not only is my uncle a monkey, some of my best friends are monkeys!

    by CodeMonkey on Tue Jan 24, 2012 at 07:39:41 PM PST

    •  No you don't. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlogDog, Rick Aucoin, jakedog42

      Per US law, all vehicles manufactured since 1996 must be OBD-II compliant for the powertrain and pollution control systems.  Generic OBD-II code scanners are available at autozone type places, usually in the sub-$100 range.  Some of these will even give access to the CANBUS where you can play with non-powertrain stuff.  

      For my VW, I use a software package called VCDS.  I run it on my Mac laptop using Windows on Parallels.  It's free to download.  It will allow certain basic functionality from a basic VW/Audi interface USB cable that you can get on eBay for $20.  If you want the full version of VCDS with all the bells and whistles (this allows access above the OBD-II diagnostic program and allows you to mess around with the CANBUS system), you must use a Ross-Tech cable, since the cable "unlocks" the software.   One of those cables is about $300 brand new online.  On the VW forums, people who own the cables will often let you borrow them for free.

      Which brings me to my next point:  no matter what kind of car you drive, there is a forum for it.  And chances are, once you get past the fluff discussions about what is the best leather treatment product or which wheels look best, you'll find a hardcore group that know how to fix anything on your car.  On the VW TDI forum I visit, no matter what the job, there is at least one person who has done it.  In many cases, that person will take photos of the job, and write up a document with pictures, illustrations, parts and tools lists, and a step-by-step narrative on how to make the fix.  There quite literally is nothing on those cars that someone on that forum has not taken apart and documented.  There are even master TDI mechanics that normally charge $100 per hour who hang out and give free advice to Do-it-yourselfers.

      The "The Compleat Idiot's Guide To Keeping Your Volkswagen Alive" still exists -- it's online.  And there is now a version for every car imaginable.  All you need is the Google.  
           

      •  Thanks for dispelling my ignorance! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RerumCognoscereCausas

        Not only is my uncle a monkey, some of my best friends are monkeys!

        by CodeMonkey on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 11:25:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There are some proprietary systems... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jakedog42

          ...so you're not totally wrong.  But Basic powertrain and pollution controls have to comply to OBD-II, which is an open, universal standard.  The government did that to prevent manufacturers from "locking down" their cars engines and pollution control systems, effectively preventing independent mechanics and do-it-yourselfers from working on cars unless they purchase expensive proprietary systems like you mentioned.  

          Where there are sometimes proprietary systems are in the CAN system -- car area network.  In the old days, when you opened the door, a switch was opened, and the interior light came on.  When you pressed the window down button, the switch closed, sent a signal to a relay, and the motor that rolls the window up or down was powered.  All analog technology.  These days on many cars, all that is controlled by a car area network.  When you press the window button, it goes to a computer which processes the signal from the switch, then relays a signal to another part of the network to make something happen.  It's actually possible to re-map switches this way.  As a practical joke, you can map the Driver's door window switch to operate the passenger window.... If a power window switch goes out and you replace it, it may be necessary to log into the CAN system and "Log the switch into the system" and map that switch to the desired function.  

          CAN stuff may be proprietary.  Mostly the European manufacturers are doing that.

          I also own a newer Toyota along with the Volkswagen TDi.  It uses a CAN system, but it's not a locked one.  I once had a broken switch for the power window that I replaced.   It didn't work for a couple hours.   When I went on a Toyota forum, they told me to just press the button a bunch of times.  Eventually, the car's computer "learned" it was there, and it it began working.        

          There is actually a political movement called the "Right to repair" movement.   The US Government is in the process of coming up with a new law for the net generation of OBD systems.  Some manufacturers are lobbying to have the new OBD system be locked by the manufacturer.  This will basically give the consumer no choice but to take the car to the dealer if it passes, since you'll need the factory password to read the cars on-board diagnostics.

          That would be a disaster for independent mechanics, and consumers.  Imagine a world where the only place you can get service is the dealer, at dealership hourly rates and parts prices.

           

          •  Another downside (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RerumCognoscereCausas

            is if everything is locked down, what happens if you are on a trip and break down hundreds of miles from a dealer.

            •  Yep. (0+ / 0-)

              With the open nature of OBD-II, if you have a problem, you can stop at a auto parts store (like advance or Auto Zone) and they can pull the code for you for free with a hand-held scanner, and sell you the part. (Unless you have a VW/Audi like me, in which case they most likely will order the part for you)

              With a locked-down system like some manufacturer's are pressing for, you'd have no choice but to find a dealer, or an indy mechanic that paid for the proprietary system.  That may not be a problem east of the Mississippi, but in a place like Wyoming, if you drive some EuroCar, the nearest dealer may be in Denver or Salt Lake City.  

    •  Driving cross country in my 69 bus (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shesaid

      the engine died coming across the rockies. Using that book, we did a complete top end job in a campground in Montana.

      Wonderful book. Truly nothing like it.

      Of course it helped that the engine was such a thoughtful design: You could pretty much tear the whole thing down with a 10mm wrench, a 14mm wrench and a screwdriver. (This is in comparison with the late 60's/early 70's British motorcycles I fool with now which require a whole plethora of oddball wrenches to get anything done).

  •  I got my first Bug in1971 or so. (10+ / 0-)

    It was a '64 and didn't have a gas gauge. It had a "reserve" lever below the shifter, when you ran out of gas, when the engine sputtered, you'd switch to reserve and you knew you had to seek fuel. I had a couple others too, I love those things.

  •  I owned that (10+ / 0-)

    "How to keep your Volkswagon alive; a manual of step by step procedures for the compleat idiot". And I owned a '65, '66, '68, and '69. Clutch cables, throttle cables, tune ups? No worries, and as you say, those high, skinny tires gave you lots of ground clearance to crawl around under the chassis. The '65 was actually my third car, but what great memories.  thanks for the nostalgia.

    •  why aren't all car manuals written this way? (4+ / 0-)

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Tue Jan 24, 2012 at 07:46:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  My 66 Bus had a long clutch cable that ran from (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Audri, Keith930, shesaid, BlogDog

      the clutch pedal in the front,through a somewhat corroded tube all the way to the transaxle in the back.  The cable would rub where it entered the tube, fray, then break.  Even in 78 the cables had to be ordered from Germany and being a high school kid I bought one at time.

      I got very good a power shifting. Start it up in first gear the rev high and drop it into the next gear, etc..  

      •  VW's had very "forgiving" transmissions (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shesaid, CentralMass

        my cable snapped one night and I made it home, about 2 miles away, by sticking to the backstreets and coasting through stop signs, power shifting all the way.

        "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

        by Keith930 on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 08:59:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  according to Wiki, it's the most successful (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shesaid, BlogDog

      self published book of all time, selling more than 2 million copies, and still in print.  The author, John  Muir, died in 1977 of a brain tumor.

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 08:57:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another '69 owner here. (5+ / 0-)

    Also acquired in '75.

    You remember what Neil Young said about his first car and his last girlfriend?

    Long may you run.

  •  My first car... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tommyfocus2003, shesaid

    A 1963 Ford Fairlane 500, white with a red stripe and red interior.

    I got it in 1970 and had it for four years.

    One day at work I happened to mention to a co-worker that I pay about $800 a year for car insurance.

    "How is that possible?" someone asked.

    "I drive a 1993 Chevy Cavalier.  It has four wheels and gets me where I need to go, locally"

    My 'dream' is to have a Blazer.  I don't know why.  I think they are cute.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Tue Jan 24, 2012 at 07:51:24 PM PST

  •  I've had a lot of cars, but the 66 VW Bus I had (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ichibon, magicsister, Audri, Marie, shesaid

    in the late 70's when I was in high school was one of my favorites. A classmate found it sitting in a barn in Connecticut. It hadn't been run in years. It was white and he painted the lower half below the windows lime green.  I bought it from him that week and I blew the engine climbing a hill the next. I brought it to a VW garage with a great Zen Master mechanic with long grey hair and a beard.  He pulled the engine out of a wrecked Super Beetle, changed flywheels, and cut some sheet metal to get the bigger engine to fit in the Bus. I could tell it was a labor of love for him. My memoirs will have a few chapters on Tales of the Bus

    I've always loved VW's. I got a free 62 Beetle from a neighbor when I was 14. They thought the engine had seized. We were pushing it home with me in the driver seat with the key on when my foot slipped off the clutch. It popped started and I drove it the short distance home. I put a new starter in it and hammered a few dents out of the fenders then body filled and primed it. I learned how to adjust the valves from the same manual you mentioned.

     I drove in the field behind my parents house for year (too young for a permit). A guy stopped by one day and made me a great offer on it so I sold it. I wish I had kept it.

  •  I too owned a Beetle (7+ / 0-)

    Nasty little car :p

    It was noisy, smelly and probably lethal if the heat-exchanger blew a hole.

    It handled like a pantomime horse on ice and it was uncomfortable.

    At 18 I didn't much care, it got me around and occasionally the rear wheels stayed dutifully behind the fronts :)

    I share much of your dismay at the increase in technology. I remember when the first full engine management systems came along and people bemoaned the fact that they could no longer work on their own cars, until they realised they now rarely needed to. Spark plugs that last 50 000 miles instead of 5000 ... Oil service intervals ever extending. Comfort, reliability, costs.

    Truth is, cars are now cheaper than they have ever been. They are generally safer, more reliable and better built too.

    I know, I know, nostalgia is fun and I'm a Grinch.

    If it helps any .... I have two motorcycles. One is 1977 and the other 1986. Both have been rescued from barns, as complete wrecks, and both have since completed 1000 mile days.

    Yeah, I like to get my hands dirty too.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Tue Jan 24, 2012 at 08:13:54 PM PST

    •  Blasphemy, non of "them" negative waves about (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twigg, Duncan Idaho, magicsister, shesaid

      Beetles ;-)

    •  I still have a few beetles all Baja'd, one a (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Azazello, shesaid

      class 16 minus the nitrogen charged shocks.....

      Noisy nasty dirty cars that are a blast to drive offroad...not so much fun on road there I'll take my Ford.....

      As someone who spent their life in Automotive the cars now get 3 times the gas mileage with 4 times the power and 1/100th the emissions of a 69 (the same year well starting year as my superbaja) Beetle with almost zero maintenance.....

      Change the timing belt every 60k a set of plugs at about the same time, wires at 100k and fix what breaks which for most cars, isn't much any more.

      And since 95 when they standardized the diagnostics with OBD2 it's become even easier to repair and maintain a car...no more multiple PROMs for the scanner just plug it in and read the codes......

      Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
      I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
      Emiliano Zapata

      by buddabelly on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 06:14:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Back in the day when Beetles were new (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buddabelly, BlogDog, Rick Aucoin

        many cars still needed at least the top end rebuilding about every 30 000 miles.

        Now they have a "sealed for life" engine that needs no maintenance for 100 000 miles ... not even an oil change.

        It hasn't made it into a car yet, and one wonders if that is because the lack of servicing would kill the Dealer networks.

        Still .... I get the romance of the Beetle, it was as alive and well in the UK as it is in the US.

        We may now have a reduced need to do much work on our cars, but that does free up time and money to indulge ourselves in a hobby ... and a classic Beetle would be a decent choice.

        Actually ... the Mini was way more fun, as a car, but they are no so easy to work on.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        by twigg on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 06:26:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Benz sealed up their transmissions a while back (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          twigg, Azazello

          but I'm not so sure on the no oil change thing unless there's some new super oil to go along.....

          I still remember the Escort that had never had an oil change yet, the car was at 35k, I had to pry out the clumps from the drain hole and the engine was toast......

          Without brakes and other undercar (suspension etc) a lot of shops would have gone out of biz years ago....During the boom the shop I was running was almost killed by the zero interest new cars...every time I told someone they needed work, they'd trade it in.....Now shops are doing pretty well again as people need to fix what they have.....

          Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
          I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
          Emiliano Zapata

          by buddabelly on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 06:58:22 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Many auto transmissions (0+ / 0-)

            will run anything up to 100 000 miles with no change of fluid.

            Some will die earlier, most won't and transmission fluid actually leads a harder life than engine oil.

            The difference is that there are no combustion byproducts that get into it ... Keep them out of the sump and the oil would last almost indefinitely.

            I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
            but I fear we will remain Democrats.

            by twigg on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 07:23:21 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  I don't think I could find a car now (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Keith930, shesaid

      for the price I got my beetle for, that I would be able to drive home from the sale.
      I wonder how much spark plugs cost (for a car that you can put them in yourself) compared to having to have someone else put them in for you.

      P.S. Don't know what you were doing on the ice: the best handling car I ever had on ice was my beetle. [shrugs]

      "I'm grateful for my job - truly, but still...ugh." CityLightsLover

      by Audri on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 08:48:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My 1st car: A used 1968 GTO w/Hurst 4 Speed..... (7+ / 0-)

    An American Muscle Car Classic.

    I learned mechanics on that car as I didn't have the money to pay anyone to fix it.  I also had a ton of fun with it (and in it) while in college.

    Sorry...Had make mention of another American car.  

    My wife was the VW owner in this family, but after her love affair with a 71 Super Beetle which she sold before we married, she then moved on to the GTI which she totaled (the first one of two) driving a bit to "aggressive".   A deer hit was the demise of the second one.   No more high performance VW's for us anymore as I too developed a lead foot with that VW model.

    "Fahrvergnügen" was alive and well in our garage for a short time there.

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution, inevitable." - President John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963)

    by LamontCranston on Tue Jan 24, 2012 at 08:40:03 PM PST

  •  I've got my eye on an mid 60s car . (0+ / 0-)

    I dream of redoing it with a great computer .
    Dumping the carbs and distributor and installing a bigstuff3 fuel injection / spark system , with coil on plug and twin fuel switching . A 4 valve motor with all of the above ...
    I bet I could double the HP and mpg

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Tue Jan 24, 2012 at 08:43:28 PM PST

    •  Edelbrock makes a great aftermarket setup but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rick Aucoin

      honestly now you can pull the same horsepower out of a Honda 4 cylinder.....

      Best bet is to get an old body and do a complete swap, engine, electronics and all from something like a SVT Mustang or similar....Now you're talking some serious ponies........

      Vaya con Dios Don Alejo
      I want to die a slave to principles. Not to men.
      Emiliano Zapata

      by buddabelly on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 06:17:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My first was a 37 ford, (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buddabelly, magicsister, Marie, BlogDog, bwren

    damn, am I that old?
    I still work on my cars, but I drive a Volvo 240 estate, turbo, many upgrades, which are still pretty simple. It took me awhile to get comfortable with fuel injection, had to do a lot of studying and t&e, but now I build my own fi computers using MegaSquirt kits, fact is I just converted my old 80 Bronco to efi using this kit, and I sure don't miss carbs at all.
    Memories of first girl friend still gives me a warm feeling, as does the old Ford.  

  •  Brings tears to my eyes (13+ / 0-)

    My first car was a 10 year old '55 Bug -- 36 hp engine, 6 volt electrical system.

    At one time I owned 3 Bugs, a Squareback, and a Ghia -- and enough parts to build 3 engines.

    My children learned to drive on a '73 Super Beetle.  Both my son and daughter learned by doing on that Beetle:
    -- oil change
    -- brake job
    -- bleed brakes
    -- replace points, plugs, condenser and tune engine
    -- valve adjustment
    -- replace light bulbs, fuses, and belt

    And -- the Complete Idiot's Guide is the finest piece of literature ever written.  I still have my original Idiot's Guide -- it has greasy fingerprints and handwritten notes all over it.

    Don't own a single Bug any more but I was cleaning out some tools last week and ran across a box full of specialty tools for working on the old Bugs -- flywheel lock, 36mm socket and breaker bar to remove the rear hub . . .

    •  I bought an early imported (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Keith930, shesaid, BlogDog

      Volkswagen Varient Squareback (a military guy shipped it back from Germany) .... it ran really bad and the owner couldn't figure why it was so hard to start.

      Got it for a song and dance .... took it home .... changed out the 12 V coil for the proper 6V coil .... drove it for several years.

      Amazing what a little spark can do.

      "Politics is the entertainment branch of industry" - Frank Zappa

      by Da Rock on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 08:52:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  '54 Bug for me. Had a sunroof (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shesaid, BlogDog, Crider, bwren

      and turn flaps.  Couldn't fix it, but got good at push starting by myself.  

    •  whatcha gonna do with those tools? eom (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bwren

      i'm not aware of too many things-i know what i know, if you know what i mean-e.b.

      by shesaid on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 09:56:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  LOVED the Idiot's guide! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shesaid

      I really, really loved the drawings in the idiots' guide. They were so, so groovy and humorous.  I've never had so much fun reading repair manuals as those Idiots' Guides for both the air cooled and water cooled VW's. Even though the water cooled VW's were considerably less charming than the air cooled's, the Idiots Guide was just as well done.

  •  Ah, verklempt here, too-- (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    magicsister, Audri, shesaid, BlogDog

    bought my first car--a Super Beetle--in '77,
    when i graduated from college and got A Real Job.

    My dad was Appalled--"We do Not buy foreign cars"--
    and i wasn't allowed to park it in the driveway,
    and had to park it down the street.

    The heater didn't work, and in the winter i had to scrape
    the ice off of the Inside of the windshield.
    Eventually hooked up a flexible tube [that connected
    under the back seat to the motor/fan under the back seat],
    and I'd hold it up to the windshield as i drove,
    to melt the ice on the windshield.

    The horn didn't work, so i attached a bike horn to the
    mirror--and had to roll down the window to honk...

    Damn...i still miss that car.

  •  My first car was an Opel Kadett Rally coupe, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    magicsister, bwren

    although I admit it was Google who came up with that spelling, probably around 1968. It was red with black stripes, and it was a stick shift. Only problem was I didn't know how to drive a stick, so my dad dutifully took  me around the neighborhood on a jerky ride until I figured out how to give it enough gas. ;)

  •  1958 Metropolitan (7+ / 0-)

    My first car was a Metropolitan before they were distributed by Nash in this country.  It was really a little MG sedan.  Had the same engine and shitty Bosh Electrical system as the MGs.  They are quite the collectors items now but I don't see how you get parts.  I bought mine in 65 I think and it was already had and expensive to get parts for which is why I traded it for a 59 Chevy.  Now there's a jump.  From one of the smallest cars sold  to one of the largest Chevys ever made.  

    Later I owned 4 different Beetles and drove a 67 Beetle from NC in 79 when we "emigrated" to WA from NC.  My last Beetle was a 72 and when I bought a new Ford Ranger truck in 92 I planned to keep it and restore it.  Unfortunately a car that it was parked next to caught fire and burned it so badly that it went to the scrap heap.  

    You should check out the new new Beetle that will be coming out this year.  No it's not the old new Beetle that has been around for awhile this one is very sleek and sporty and will come in a hybrid version.  If I had the money I'd buy it just for the looks.  

    Our cause is FAIRNESS. FAIRNESS for the masses. Our cause HOPE. HOPE for a better life and a better world. Yes WE Can, Yes WE Will. Together WE will OCCUPY THE WORLD. Let it be. www.OccupyOlympia.org

    by YellerDog on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 01:21:12 AM PST

  •  First Car. First Love. Same Thing. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    magicsister, Audri, Keith930, bwren

    But I'm from Detroit, and an autoworker by birth.

    '72 Nova. 307 Chevy small block. Cried when I sold her.

    Democrats are not always right, but Republicans are insane.

    by BobBlueMass on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 05:05:04 AM PST

    •  Here's a song that seems to capture (0+ / 0-)

      all of the emotions associated with your first car, youth and the freedom of having your own wheels.  Sing it, Tom:

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 01:18:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Driving an old Beetle is like riding a luge (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Audri, jakedog42

    You're essentially riding "balls first."

  •  Sublime (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Marie, bwren

    My first great life/love/car experience was serving at NATO HDQT'S in Belgium as a young airman, running around Europe in a brand new Fiat 850 Coupe (Dark Green - Saddle interior), falling in love with a beautiful, petite NATO Translator who spoke six languages and who looked like and had the class of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (sadly, she - Francine, we married in 1969 - and Jackie are both dead), learning fluent French, advancing in the USAF, meeting wonderful women and men in Belgium (at NATO, in villages, in Brussels, in France).

    Nothing in life has been as exciting and as lovely as that period for me.

    No US muscle car involved.

  •  My first car was a 51 Studebaker PU (11+ / 0-)

    This was in 1964 when I turned 16 and got my license. A neighbor gave it to me and I fixed it up. I was the first one in my crowd to get a car so you'd get 10 guys all piled into that fior a cruise. I traded that for a '34 LaSalle thhat was cherry---big with sucide doors. I Had to abandon that when I couldn't get U Joints for it. After that I had a '57 Fairlane cherried out with mag wheels, et al untill I went into the Army.
    Whish I had any of these cars now.
    Ive had 4 VWs, 2 bugs and 2 buses. I got pretty good working on these, once completely changed the clutch in a VW bus in 45 minutes----IN THE SF AIRPORT PARKING LOT!!! At night!!  Try That one night

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 05:44:10 AM PST

  •  My parents bought a 1960 (6+ / 0-)

    Chevrolet Impala 4 door hardtop brand new - Suntan Copper & Fawn Beige.  I spent my teen and young adult years adoring that large, shiny,  highly chromed (aluminum also) beautiful car.  I washed it twice a week. Waxed it twice a year.  It was garaged always.  It was my mother's car.  She was a stay-at-home Mom who took care of five children (died in 1969).  That car was so popular among families in the semi-rural area of Northern Kentucky (Greater Cincinnati) where I grew up.  I counted at leas seven families (3 at the steel plant where my father worked , 2 at our church and 2 others) who bought the same car in different colors.  The car was solid.  It was well built.  It was the pinnacle of GM styling and engineering at the time.  Small V8 (170 hp) wide enough inside for a boy to lie down and stretch out across the seats.  The car was durable and the metal was thick and strong.

    Thank you for this Diary, Keith930.  Wonderful memories.

    PEACE

    •  Heh. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tommyfocus2003, bwren

      We had a red one.   We went, as a family of 7, in that car from NY to Prince Edward Island, Canada for a family vacation.  It's hard to imagine 5 kids in a standard car these days.  Actually, it's hard to imagine having 5 kids anywhere these days.

      "Stay Democratic, my friends." -The Most Interesting Man in the World

      by boran2 on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 06:26:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  One day (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    magicsister

    while working as a "Delivery Boy" for an office supply store in Newport, KY, I ended up on I-75 North of Cincinnati, with a broken down Ford Econoline van - 5:30 P.M. rush hour - parked on the side of the  interstate.  No phone (1964).

    The motor was between the seats (covered with a metal lift up "Lid").  That van was a cheap tin can.  I lifted that "Lid" and determined that a paper clip could hold the accelerator/carbeurator connector (sorry - I know nothing about auto mechanics) together.  It worked (with some help from my right hand).  I drove back to the store with the other hand.  

    I thought I was brilliant. My two bosses did not even react.

    OT & no love there.

  •  But... (0+ / 0-)

    ...cars don't require the same level of maintenance these days, so not being  able to do it oneself is less of an issue.  My first, an Oldsmobile F85 (1967) was very old at the time, and almost resulted in my death.  I have no fondness for it.  Now, my 10 year old Mazda Millenia (Millenia #4, to be exact), is still fabulous.  We will keep it forever.

    "Stay Democratic, my friends." -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 06:08:13 AM PST

  •  '61 VW Bug was my first car. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Audri, Marie, shesaid, BlogDog

    Got it in 1968 when I started college.  Rolled it on a rain-slickened country road before long.  Replaced it with another '61 but not in as good a shape.  The battery was located under the back seat as I recall.

    They were the "People's Car" and thus had to go the way of the dodo.

    A petty criminal is someone with predatory instincts but insufficient capital to form a corporation.

    by stlsophos on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 06:14:57 AM PST

    •  not extinct, i assure you... (0+ / 0-)

      there is a thriving subculture that rebuilds vws from the 50s on, including buses and the karmann ghia.

      i'm not aware of too many things-i know what i know, if you know what i mean-e.b.

      by shesaid on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 09:51:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  All these lovely car memories. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    magicsister, Audri, BlogDog, bwren

    I'm the daughter of a car nut. In my dreams, someday, as a decrepit oldster (I'm half a century now, and I won't be fulfilling this dream soon), I want either a Karmann Ghia or a VW bus. I grew up in the "roomy" back seat of a Karmann Ghia and carpooling in the nieghbor's VW bus.

    A girl can dream, right?

    I drove a Scirocco during high school (so fun!! but a little tinny). Must have been my dad's replacement for the Karmann Ghia. He replaced the Scirocco with a Mazda RX7, and that really was, hands down, my favorite car, and it was mine for a bit, until I had kids and no room in my life for a 2-seater. It was a sad day when we sold it to a Mazda racer. At least it went out with a bang!

  •  '68 Bug was my first. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Audri, shesaid, BlogDog

    I got it in 1980. It was badly rusted, but I love how easy it was to do minor maintenance. My second car was a '73 Audi Fox. My 3rd was a '75 Dodge Dart.

    All of those cars were simple to work on, especially the VW and the Dodge.

    Most of the cars I owned through the '80s and '90s were all easy to work on and all made in the '60s, '70s or early 80's. Some were wonderful ('63 Volvo 122) some were terrible ('81 Chevy Citation). They were all easy to work on though.

    That all changed with a 1996 Honda Civic that I had from 2003 thru 2005. It was impossible. It was a nice car, and very reliable, but impossible to work on. My wife's current car, a 2004 Scion Xa, is even more impossible.

    I gave up on cars in 2005. Now I just have bikes and use my wife's car when necessary. I can do everything with my bikes except maintain the bottom brackets and that's only because I don't have the necessary tools.

    1,000,000 Strong! TOTAL RECALL!

    by pHunbalanced on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 06:30:56 AM PST

  •  Being a confirmed "motor head".................... (5+ / 0-)

    I've got to get in on this.

    My first car was a 1936 Chevrolet 2-dr sedan. I purchased it for $50 from a great uncle, Walter, who owned a Garage. I drove Walter I about and year and 1/2 but it was unsafe--mechanical brakes, no defroster, tires impossible to find.  Uncle Walter gave up driving my HS senior year and sold me his 1953 Chevy, Walter II,  for $125 which was much more practical and lasted me most of the way through college.

    The '36 went to Indiana to a collector/restorer/hot-rodder and I often wonder if I have seen it at the Street Rod nationals here is Louisville. If I have; I didn't recognize it.  

    I was a confirmed shade-tree mechanic. For instance, from Walter I up though about 5 years ago; I did not pay for a brake job.  I replaced the clutch on an MG Midget which requires pulling the engine,  replaced front a front drive axle on a Chrysler Le Baron,  put a new top on my Fiat 124 Spyder, built an engine for my 1982 Chevy S-10 Stepside, etc, etc.

    Now in my mid-60’s, I no longer wrench; but I do miss it and  can’t bring myself to get rid of my tools.

    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation--HDT

    by cazcee on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 06:31:39 AM PST

  •  We have a mint '72 Beetle (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    magicsister, Audri, Marie, shesaid, BlogDog

    It's driven Michigan to Florida and back twice without a hiccup! Of course, it had some body work but it's a love.

    Yet I still pine for my 68 Mustang--lime green and a real beauty.

    Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

    by MrMichaelMT on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 06:46:28 AM PST

  •  '71 beetle (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Audri, shesaid, BlogDog, Duncan Idaho
    It also instilled in me a fleeting sense that I, too, could work on cars.  But that ended as soon as I got rid of my VW and bought something else.

    As a painter with nearly no mechanical inclination, I know the truth of that statement.

    my first car was a '71. by the end, there was duct tape holding the exhaust hoses on (the tape fused and never broke again!), the driver's seat had broken loose during a spectacular red-light hydroplane my senior year in high school when my brakes went out (i coasted through my small town to my grandparents' house without brakes, rolling to a stop in front of my bewildered grandfather who measured the seat to me and bolted it to the frame of the car, then fixed the brakes).

    all that aside, I loved that car beyond reason (even when it rained and the engine just didn't care to start). wish i could have afforded a second car throughout college, i would never have sold it (to a guy with my leg length, of course).

    thanks for telling about your beetle!

    We keep electing whores to congress, and we wonder why we get screwed while the money flows to their pimps.

    by papa monzano on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 06:47:40 AM PST

    •  I still love and miss my '71 Beetle (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Audri, shesaid

      I wish I could have it today.  

      I also think one of the best cars built was the Rabbit diesel pickup.  VW only produced them for two years (80-82 I believe), but I would love to have one right now - it could so easily be converted to biodiesel.  

      We do not forgive. We do not forget. The whole world is watching.

      by Tracker on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 06:54:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  daily driver of '62 Karmann Ghia (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    magicsister, Audri, shesaid, BlogDog, bwren

    what a great diary!  I too have a fondness for air-cooled VW's, I drive one every day to work and to the park to ride my MTB or soccer practice.  Simplicty and economy are the draws for me.  I also drive water cooled, a '91 GTI, fast and fun.  VW's are the "peoples car", to be enjoyed by the masses.

  •  I could have written this! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Marie, cloudbustingkid, shesaid

    Thank you for doing so.

    What killed mine, was rot.  By the time I got rid of it, you got wet driving through puddles and when you went over a bump the upper body would bounce on what ever tenuous connection it had to the frame.  Good times.

    The engine, that I too did all the work, still worked like a champ.

    Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

    by EdMass on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 07:33:34 AM PST

  •  64 and 67 owner here. Rec list material, guide to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shesaid

    a future of more heart and more of that good old do it yourself creativity, accomplishment and power.

    Ahhh, the Nans of the world make our hearts sping, but the VWs, well.... nuff said.

  •  I was nearly born in a VW (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, MKinTN, Audri, Marie, shesaid, BlogDog, bwren

    and have had them in my family ever since. Before they were available in the US, my grandparents bought one in Europe, drove it around for six weeks or so, then brought it across the Atlantic by ship where my parents picked it up in NYC.

    I grew up with a steady stream of Beetles, then when I started my first job, bought a used Squareback whose prescient owner knew that this vehicle was about to cost a lot in repairs, and ought to be unloaded on some unsuspecting person.

    By then, my now-long-ex-boyfriend and I had completely rebuilt the engine of a '72 Beetle used by his grandfather as a "let's beat this to sh*t" farm vehicle. The car was making an alarming clattering noise which, when we began dismantling it in a barn, turned out to be the connecting rod which had chewed off about 1/4 inch of the bearing and was hungry for more.

    With the help of the excellent black-and-white cartoon-illustrated John Muir book, we stripped it down to the crankshaft which we had re-ground in Somerville MA, and successfully rebuilt it with only a few random parts remaining, and the thing ran like a champ. Sort of. When we had it back together, my boyfriend started it up and when he depressed the accelerator, the cable snapped. Undaunted, I hopped on the back bumper and operated the butterfly valve on the carburetor so that we could careen - shrieking in victory - around the farm roads.

    After that, I was able to amaze (and piss off) subsequent boyfriends by solving their idiotically simple engine problems (condensation under the distributor cap? Dry it out with a bandana, and you're good to go).

    Sadly, things are much more complicated now, and car dealers and mechanics have us over a barrel. But the sense of empowerment for a small female back in the '70s was very satisfying indeed.

    Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

    by cassandracarolina on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 07:50:26 AM PST

  •  First car was a FIAT 1100 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, BlogDog, icemilkcoffee

    Around 1970, one could pick up a non-running low-end tiny 'foreign' car for $35. I found a FIAT 1100 with a great body with a knocking rod and another for the same price with an awful body but a good engine for . . .  $35. Thanks to the help of a friend, the good engine went into the car with the great body and it was good to go! Jay Leno has one of these and has a test drive video to boot.

    But the next catch was a FIAT 600. THey were a wee bit more expensive but were way cooler. Only 600cc, water cooled with the engine in the back. And quite slow. Top speed was 100kph or 62 mph. After Nixon put us on 55mph after the gas crises it was like the world had slowed down to meet my personal needs!

    Our current crop of cars are too large, too heavy, too luxurious and waste far too much fuel in too much comfort.

  •  1968 VW automatic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shesaid, BlogDog

    Bought it brand new, before I had ever driven a car.

    I had enlisted in the Marine Corps in my senior year in High School, I was 17. I never had a drivers license, since there was only the family car and I was not allowed to drive it. (Don't ask)

    So, when the VA finally OK'd my one time car allowance (I had lost a leg to a hand grenade) and VW offered a "automatic" transmission, I was sold.

    My dad and I went to pick it up. I had never driven so he took me to a large cemetary and taught me. I drove home and when he got out, I took off with only my learners permit.

    I lived in that car that year, racking up 77,000 in 13 months. The transmission made the car a notorious lemon. I sunk hundreds into it. It died on the Mass Pike on the way to NY.

    But it was, despite it mechanical problems, the perfect car for me at the time.

    "One big Union, one big Strike" IWW

    by jack 1966 on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 08:20:21 AM PST

  •  1971 Karmann-Ghia (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shesaid, BlogDog, Keith930

    Forest Green with Tan Interior. 6 quart oil pan with an
    external Oil Cooler and spin-on Filter. Got to keep the
    oil cool when operating an Air-Cooled Engine.

    New Gears for the Transmission. The standard First gear
    was too low and Second gear was too high. Much better
    driver afterwards.

    All the Usual Body Pan rust Issues thanks to all the
    salt they use on New England winter roads. No Problem.
    Cut out the Rot and patch it Up with the Arc Welder.

    You could Drop the Engine with two people and a floor
    Jack. Pick the engine up and put it on your workbench.
    No chain Hoist Needed. Rebuilt the entire engine on a
    long Weekend.

    I agree with you Completely. One of the Easiest cars to
    work on. No Computers. No Black Boxes. No Mysteries.

    I Wish I had a car like that Now.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 08:36:42 AM PST

  •  Amen. (5+ / 0-)

    My favorite car was our '64 beetle, Mable. LOVED her. had her while we lived in Maine and she just skated over those ice-paved roads, like she was having a good time (not that the heat or defrost actually Worked or anything...). As I was, when driving her. One of the dumbest things we did was to sell her when we left Maine. I like to think she's still out there, chugging away, making someone else happy to drive.

    "I'm grateful for my job - truly, but still...ugh." CityLightsLover

    by Audri on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 08:37:55 AM PST

  •  I've owned several "bugs" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlogDog

    but the car I miss most

    Saab 96 750GT --- 3 carbs, 3 cylinders, and a 2 stroke engine. Ring, Ding, Ding.....

    Want heat?? Pull out the knob connected to a string that pulls a shade over the radiator.

    Sniff .... 4 speed on the column. Need to go up a steep hill? Well it has little to no torque ... and reverse gear is lower than 1st so back up the hill.

    Too much snow?? The solid body pan underneath lifts up on the snow and the wheels come off the ground .. get out the shovel.

    But the best part -- putting a quart of oil into the gas tank ... pulling out the choke ... and watching the smoke screen as I went down the street.

    "Politics is the entertainment branch of industry" - Frank Zappa

    by Da Rock on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 08:47:35 AM PST

  •  My first car was a '69 Beetle also. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Audri, Keith930, shesaid, Duncan Idaho

    It was fun to read your experience with yours. I can relate on so many levels that you wouldn't believe me even if I tried explaining.

    I was a few years behind you. I got mine in 1982. I remember how old I felt that wonderful car was at the time. Crazy huh?

  •  My first car was a '74 Super Beetle. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cloudbustingkid, shesaid

    Yellow. Yay! A hand me down from my mom when she retired it for a sports car.

  •  It took me an afternoon to replace the engine (5+ / 0-)

    in my 69 Beetle. I blew the engine several times trying to drive it like a sports car. Hey that's what kids do. You could go to the junkyard, grab a used engine from the engine pile and drop it in in a few hours. All you needed was a floor jack and some metric wrenches.

    There's enough on this planet for everyone's needs but not for everyone's greed. ~ Gandhi

    by CitizenOfEarth on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 09:32:53 AM PST

    •  If the rear apron was bolted on, you could have (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      T100R, CitizenOfEarth

      the engine out in 15 minutes. 4 bolts, the fuel line and a few wires. Most of the difficulty is trying to manuever the engine past the rear apron.

      •  A high school buddy of mine (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CitizenOfEarth

        who worked in a service station (late '60s) said they used to have contests to see who could get a VW's engine out and back in the quickest. I forget what the record was, but it was pretty short.

        •  weren't there only 4 mounting bolts? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CitizenOfEarth

          I can't remember now.

          "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

          by Keith930 on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 01:26:22 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yep. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            CitizenOfEarth

            Undo four nuts, disconnect the fuel line and a couple of wires, then two guys could lift it right out. The older transporters were even better: If you put a jack under the engine and removed the rear bumper and apron you could roll the vehicle forward off the engine. No lifting required.

            Last time I replaced an engine in a car (an early Honda Prelude), it took me a day to the the engine out, and another whole day to get the new one in.

  •  Beetle owners unite! (3+ / 0-)

    this is ubercool! at this moment, i have 2 bugs under my carport: my 69 that was my first car (bought from the o.o. neighbor by my dad for an ounce of gold...that was in 1980, when it was a few hundred dollars.) and a 72 s. vert that i bought a few years ago...

    i'm slowly working on them, with help from muir's book, and a vw helpsite (thesamba-if anyone's interested).

    a friend asked me not long ago about getting a bug for his daughter...my advice was no-unless she's willing to learn to change oil, adjust valves, points, etc.

    i like talking about bugs almost as much as i like talking about politics...

    fun story, keith-thanks so for sharing!

    i'm not aware of too many things-i know what i know, if you know what i mean-e.b.

    by shesaid on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 09:45:04 AM PST

    •  he should probably get her something safer (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shesaid

      but driving an old Bug would make her a better driver.  And adjusting the valves on your own engine is good for you--I honor Muir's advice on that subject, and I love the rattly sound of an old VW with valve clearances nice and loose the way he recommended.

      •  my plan is to get my son to help me (0+ / 0-)

        and learn as he goes. he said he didn't know how the other day, and i said what makes you think i do? we'll figure it out eventually-lol.

        i'm not aware of too many things-i know what i know, if you know what i mean-e.b.

        by shesaid on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 07:02:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  As a young'un, I don't have any fond memories of (0+ / 0-)

    old Beetles, but the first car I bought with my own money was a 2008 Golf GTI. Lost it a year later in an accident, so I bought another one (2009 model). I love that car. It's the only car on the market for that price where you can have fun hauling shit in the spacious trunk/hatch and still get good gas mileage.

    It's no 69 Beetle, but maybe in 40 years, I'll be writing a diary about it ;)

    TEABAGGER: Totally Enraged About Blacks And Gays Getting Equal Rights

    by yg17 on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 10:10:39 AM PST

  •  I've had 12 (?) vw beetles , etc. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shesaid, Keith930, icemilkcoffee

    One was a squareback and two were busses, one of which I own now. It's a 1966 vw westfalia camper and yes, this one IS AN INVESTMENT. I paid $600 for it fifteen years ago and if you look at what they are going for now, I will be very richly rewarded. . .if, of course, I ever sell it. I doubt that will ever happen.

    Air cooled vw's rule. I have several more I intend to own, including a karman ghia and a thing.

    My favorite bug was my first one, a 1960 that I paid $300 for. I ripped the decrepped headliner out and painted a dark blue sky with golden stars. Dammit, I still miss that one.

    •  I had 2 air cool's followed by 3 water cooled VW's (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shesaid

      I gotta say- the aircooled VW's were fair better engineered than the water cooled ones. The water cooled VW's were plagued all all sorts of electrical problems and cooling problem.
      I remember one time on Click and Clack, they advised a caller to bypass the heater in his VW since the caller lives in balmy Arizona. And then a minute later another caller called in to correct the brothers- he said you absolutely need the heater in hot weather because during the hottest times of the year, you have to drive with the heater ON to help cool the dang engine! And that was absolutely true- I had to do that more than once!

  •  What a bunch of hippies we all were! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930

    Can't believe all the VW stories....oh wait.  I take that back.  

    My best friend had a '69 bug.

    My first car was a '66 Mustang, standard shift (no synchromesh), with a sound system that had something called 'reverb.'  

    Lost my virginity in the back seat at the drive-in theater watching the movie "Mash."

    I fall down, I get up, I keep dancing.

    by DamselleFly on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 12:56:50 PM PST

  •  My first car was a 71 bus; 2nd car a 63 ragtop bug (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, shesaid

    Yeah- those were some fantastically easy cars to work on.  The 71 bus was cavernous enough that we could haul a dirt bike inside it!

    I especially miss the turquois 63 bug with the sliding clothe sunroof though. Back in those pre-seatbelt days, we'd drive around with the sunroof open, and our 8 year old little brother would stand up with his head sticking out of the large sunroof. The bus was kind of difficult to drive because of the slow engine, slow steering and horrible shifter. The Bug on the other hand, had a light steering wheel and adequate speed. It was very easy to drive.

    •  learned to drive a stick in a VW in San Francisco (0+ / 0-)

      You really had to be inept to dump the clutch in those things.  

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 01:24:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Much easier in a bug than bus! (0+ / 0-)

        In the bug you could pull up on the hand brake to hold the car on the hill. On the bus, you'd have to pull the under dash handbrake and twist it 90 degree with your left hand, shift with your right hand, and steer with your other hand!

        Reminds me of when they moved the shifter on the motorcycles from the right side to the left side. That totally screwed up my 'San Francisco hills' routine of holding the bike with the left foot brake, holding in the clutch with the left hand, and using the right hand to find neutral or first.

  •  My parents owned his/her bugs - 4k for the pair (0+ / 0-)

    new in 1973.  dirty hippies, not really

    and you could tell whose was whose - my dad's could be shifted w/o the clutch which I guess he stopped using

  •  Blame it on front-wheel drive design. (0+ / 0-)

    With the engine running transversely in the engine compartment, access to the accessory train is extremely limited and often requires removing the right front wheel and fender lining to have access to those components.

    Also, the modern engine management depends heavily on black-box modules and a multitude of sensors that must all work together.  They are very expensive to replace.  No more distributors or points to adjust.

    While difficult, there are some cars today that can be worked on and while more complex, a lot of guidance is available on various on-line forums where lots of clever home mechanics share tips.  You must know how to access the OBD (on-board-diagnostics) port with a code reader to have a chance at repairing engine related problems.

    The price to have clean air.

  •  With those old beetles (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930

    You had to have two major systems fail for you not to get home.  Starter out?  Park it on a hill.  Brakes out?  Hand brake.  Both out?  You need a tow.  

    Thanks for the memories.  My first car was a 69 charger.  I have some stories I might share too.  

    I will not send money to, work for, or vote for, any candidate whose behavior benefits the 1% over the 99%. Work for my vote, money and time, or lose it. Not the other way around.

    by Nada Lemming on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 02:39:46 PM PST

  •  Owned a 64' (0+ / 0-)

    Got in 1972. Totaled it. Asked the shop teacher to make it a class project to restore. Amazingly he agrees. Car was like new at the end of the semester.

  •  One of my (few) HS friends drove an old bug (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cloudbustingkid

    We drove it up to Raleigh once to go see a Laserium show or something like that. Out in the boonies (this was long before they extended I-40 down to the coast), the linkage between the accelerator pedal and the throttle control - basically a z-shaped piece of metal - snapped. For about twenty miles or so, I sat on the floor on the passenger side with a screwdriver through the ring of the throttle control, pulling it out or letting it in as my friend directed. As it happened, we passed a farm that had a barn with four different Beetles parked in it. My friend went in, talked to the owner, gave him a couple of bucks and popped out the linkage from one of the cars, popped it into his and we went on our merry way.

    He was always tinkering with it, and at one point he called me to see if I could come over. As it turned out, he wanted to remove the engine for some reason. It could be done with just a couple of wrenches and a screwdriver, IIRC, but you needed someone to hold on to it when you removed the last bolt or you'd snap the driveshaft, which was about as thick as a pencil.

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 04:41:19 PM PST

  •  Oh, and on my last trip to Raleigh (0+ / 0-)

    I saw what was probably the best vanity plate ever.

    It was on a New Beetle - the plate read FEATURE.

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 04:43:18 PM PST

  •  Oh yes, firstcars/first loves (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930

    Mine was a '75 Saab - a 99L if I remember correctly - that handled in the snow better than my Acura does now, was a tank and taught me such tasks as changing oil, lights, fuses and tires. Good on gas too; it was sort of like watching an old relative die when Saab finally went bankrupt.
       However the first car I learned to drive was my mom's '79 Rabbit. Learned stick there too, which I still insist on driving to this day.
       As for my first love, that will have to wait for another time, sorry Cara. But now you know why I wrote those papers for you. .  .

    An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

    by MichiganChet on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 04:51:46 PM PST

  •  beetles (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bwren

    Still driving my 1970 beetle.  On the 2nd motor and transaxle.  2nd interior, 3rd paint  job.  I get it painted every ten years after I do the needed body work.  Forgot how many sets of tires its been through or its milage as I never paid attention to that sort of thing.  Replaced many a rusted out body panel ( every ten years).

    Looking for Lindsey Lohan to sign my "herbie fully loaded poster".  Next time I'm out in california I'll track her down assuming I kind find the right rehab.

    Just a little trivia here on VW history should anyone care.  When the VW was introduced in 1938 at the Frankfurt International auto show Tatra of Prague, Czechoslovakia
    sued Fedinand Porshce and his Reichs-Autokonstrukteur Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Volkswagens (VW development company) for 11 different patent infringments. Seems Tatra had developed the motor & transaxle in 1926 not to mention the platform and suspension and a bunch of other thingies.  Quite the embarrassment for Porsche and he did admit he stole the design.  He said Hitler was in such a hurry for the car that didn't really have time to design his own.  

    So, Porsche is writing out the check as the courts found for Tatra and Hitler asks him what he is doing, he says "paying off Tatra" and Hitler said to him, "don't worry about Tatra or bother paying anybody anything in Czechoslovakia."

    The rest is history.  Of course you won't read anything about that in any VW authorized history book of the marque.

    Volkwagen finally paid Tatra in 1960.  

    For real serious heavy duty, safe and must needs driving I have a Subaru.
     

    "Golf is a good walk ruined" Mark Twain

    by Znahk on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 05:38:24 PM PST

  •  My Mom got her first Bug in 1965 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bwren

    I stole it the next day, so my Dad got her a Chevy station wagon.

    I bought my own first Beetle when I got back from Vietnam in 1970...brand new off the show room floor for $1,174.00 if memory serves.

    I will buy another one some day.

    Well, I been around the world, and I've been in the Washington Zoo. And in all my travels, as the facts unravel, I've found this to be true.... ...they don't give a f^ck about anybody else

    by Zwoof on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 06:34:34 PM PST

  •  My first car was a 67 MGB-GT (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zinman

    that I bought in 1973 when I was in 11th grade. Great fun, and pretty easy to work on, but it sure did need to be worked on. It had dual carbs, and they were always a hassle to keep balanced

    A few years later, I sold that one and bought a 72 B-GT that was in much better shape. In 78, I drove it from D.C to San Francisco packed with everything that I owned. I got caught in a dust storm in Nevada (Hwy 50) and the carbs got full of sand. The engine started to sputter, but I made it to a campground whereI spent the next day rebuilding both carbs on a picnic table. Luckily, I was smart enough to have two rebuild kits with me for the journey. The whole trip took me 6 weeks and 5000 miles. I sure did see America, and had a great time, all by myself.

    I commuted from Marin Co to work in S.F for a few years in that car, and the daily drive over the Golden Gate Bridge was often the highlight of the day. I'm still amazed that I never got a ticket for speeding on that bridge!

    In 82 I moved to a piece of raw land to start homesteading, and the MG was starting to need a bunch of work. I needed a truck, so I bought one and the MG got parked, figuring that I'd work on it someday. Well, homesteading is already a lot of work, so a couple of years later I sold it (barely running at that point) for $400 and a Servel propane refrigerator for my cabin.

    Just a few months ago, I was driving down to The City, and low and behold, there was my old MG parked on the side of the highway with a "for sale" sign on it. I had to take the next exit and turn around to take a peek. I hadn't seen that car in 25 years.

    Unfortunately, it was pretty trashed. Still intact, with the original engine in it (I could tell because it still had the custom air filters that I had installed in it back in Maryland), but lots of surface body rust, and the interior looked liked animals had lived a few years in it. It was still restorable, but it would have cost big bucks, and I don't really need another project right now. I wrote down the phone number, but never called.

    Sigh...

    Those cars were a whole lot of fun, but very primitive. Seeing my 'ol MGB made this 55-year-old pine for a sports car again, but I think that I would rather have a Miata or Mini Cooper these days.

    But for now, I'll just keep driving my 87 Volvo 240 (truely a great car) and my 86 Toyota 4x4 truck (200k very hard miles, more like 400k normal miles). Actually I just put a whole bunch of work into the Toyota, with a rebuilt engine, tranny, rear end, and a full suspension overhaul. I also converted it from a 2-barrel carb to fuel injection. More power than it ever had now. Gotta do a little body work and get it painted, and I expect to have it for another 20 years.

  •  Crazy times with my '64 Bug (0+ / 0-)

    Before the '64 came along, I had a '54 Bug which my grandfather gave me, but I didn't have it for long. Strange beast, that '54, no gas gauge, turn signals that were on flipper arms that popped out of the body behind the doors with a tiny 6 volt light inside each of them, and a tiny rear view window made in a sort of oval shape. The gas tank in the trunk up front had a fill cap covering about a 2 1/2" diameter hole. I guess they designed it that way so you could fill it up with a bucket of gasoline.

    The '64 Bug was a workhorse, I was young and so were my friends who often didn't have cars. They counted on using mine when in need. One time, one of my friends got pregnant and decided she had to get married right away. So, I was enlisted to ferry her and her hubby-to-be up to Reno from the SF Bay Area  to get married. The real issue was that there were going to be 6 of us in the "wedding party", but that didn't stop us at all. Three in the front, three in the back, my girlfriend straddling the gear shifter and sitting on the edges of the two front seats. We made it up there, got my friend married at a drive-thru chapel, and went to our casino motel for her wedding night. Along about midnight my girlfriend and I were awakened by the newlywed bride crying her eyes out because her new hubby had not returned from gambling. It turns out he was not really of good husband stock, but at least she was married when she delivered, and my old '64 Bug played a part in that.

    "11 dimensional chess" is a clever form of using magical thinking to obfuscate the obvious.

    by Zinman on Wed Jan 25, 2012 at 10:23:07 PM PST

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