A good friend of mine has just purchased a VW Beetle and for the first time in a long time I felt a stab of jealousy over a car. I have never been a car fan, am not easily impressed by the ramblings of Jeremy Clarkson and the other two off of Top Gear and a flash car is not on the top of my wish list in the event of a lottery win. However, I did once love a car more than is healthy with a bit of metal, my 1969 Pink VW Beetle.
Do you remember the days when you took a driving test without the added pressures of a theory test, but instead a question/answer session with your examiner from a well used copy of the Highway Code? I can remember burning the midnight oil studying braking distances in preparation for the test, then he didn’t ask one thing about them, so instead I just casually dropped them into the conversation throughout my test which I sadly failed despite this! I am a 2nd time passer of my driving test and 2nd timers obviously make better drivers as we had that extra tuition and stress! I can remember happily swapping my provisional for a permanent licence, as not only did I now have a licence to drive but also a good form of ID for alcohol purchasing.
My parents had awarded my older brother our old Morris Marina as they had bought a new car so I would have to purchase a car from elsewhere. My parents and I decided that if I can stump up some of the cash for the car they would cover costs such as insurance and tax. So as I was a student and working part-time in an Elvis themed restaurant, I used my hard-earned tips and not so hard-earned wages to fund my car shopping trip.
My parents and I discussed suitable cars and with Fords in a neighbouring town, decided a Fiesta or an Escort would be a sensible choice. Now, I wasn’t a particularly sensible 17-year-old, I studied hard-ish at college, I worked hard-ish, (serving Fajita’s and learning the routine to “All Shook Up” isn’t exactly taxing) but I was quite an impulsive person and still can be in a more diluted manner. So, with the money for my car burning a hole in my money-box and a dear friend of mine looking to sell her VW Beetle I thought it would be a genius decision to buy it from her. We exchanged £500 for the car and the log book and MOT certificate, which if I had bothered to look at would tell me that it had limped through its last service.
I thought that my parents might not warm to the idea straight away but with the fact that the car was over 30 years old they wouldn’t have to pay tax so that should please them surely? My parents are lovely patient people, very reasonable and supportive but as you can imagine were none too pleased when they heard the Sherman tank noise coming down the road and me pulling up in a bright pink beetle along with extended wheel arches to accommodate massive wheels. The words ‘on your head be it’ I think were used in the resulting conversation, but I was unable to see sense, I was in love!
My Beetle had so many lovable features that any rational person would probably would think of as a negative. The vintage flat windscreen with one faulty windscreen wiper, which used to stick so when it rained my passenger would have to help it move quicker. The horn and windscreen wash were little levers on the dashboard which I often mistook for each other. One day when stuck in traffic I tried to wash my screen and pressed the horn lever by accident, which then jammed so I was stationary with a loud horn on a continuous noise while I tried to shout “my horn is stuck!” out of the window to not very amused drivers around me. The heating was two holes in the back seat which when turned on would burn the ankles of anyone sitting in the back and not reach the people in the front. The wheels were enormous and on my first MOT the mechanic pointed out that one of the tyres was from a van and I should really change it to a car wheel!
But despite its many flaws, it was such a lovely car to drive, I can still hear the chugga chug of its engine and the feeling of safety in its huge interior. However, it wasn’t built for speed and when I used to go on the motorway and it reached 65mph the car would shake and you had to shout to be heard. On one particular journey to Brighton, we stopped to get petrol and as I queued a man in front said to his girlfriend, “look at that bug, it’s eye is falling out”, to which I spun round to see my car’s headlight dangling from one wire!
After a few years of service, my beloved Beetle succumbed to rust and corrosion. I was planning a permanent move to Brighton and after a not very successful campaign to sell it in Loot, we sold it to a scrap dealers for £50. It still brings a lump to throat remembering it being towed down the street feeling like I had let it down through neglect. However, my parents were now happy with the fact I was going to be driving the long-awaited Fiesta they had given me and my brother to share.
Now I drive a “Mum’s car”, a Citroen something or other. I am fond of it as it is roomy and fairly easy to park but it will never replace my old Beetle. And if we ever do win the lottery a 1969 VW Beetle is the car I will purchase, but this time I will study the log book and MOT certificates to make sure it is roadworthy!