Photo of the week #73 – This one owner from new, 1972 Marina Blue Beetle was offered for sale at the Stanford Hall VW show this year. From what I can recall the only thing non original is that it has been fitted with day-mouldings, self-coloured fibreglass wings. Not too bad for forty years of careful ownership!
Photo of the week #70 – I moved home last week to a small village near Brackley, and my poor old 1955 Oval Window VW Beetle had to spend a few days outside on the drive while we sorted out everything in the garage. With heavy snow-falls over most of last weekend, I think this may have been the worst weather that this old timer has faced since it’s been in this country – certainly since I’ve owned it! But as it originally came from Sweden, it may be a nice reminder of the weather it had to face when it started it’s life. This photograph was taken on my iPhone 5.
In the forty-seven years since I bought my first new car, a 1965 Volkswagen Sunroof ‘Deluxe’ Sedan, he’s evolved as I have, and has adapted to each of my lifetimes. I’ve always called him ‘Victor’. Victor Volkswagen.
From a 60-mile-per-day commuter car on the Los Angeles Freeways in his, and my, youth, to grocery wagon and errand-runner in Seattle during my early married/new mom years, to second, third, sometimes fourth car after a move to Portland, and now living in luxury in a heated/alarmed garage and only taken out on sunny days to show his stuff in a local car show, venerable Victor Volkswagen has never let me down.
Who needed a mini-van 47 years ago? He schlepped my kids during their early months in hand-me-down car seats; later he hauled them and their friends to after-school activities and his clutch and transmission survived despite their first driving lessons as teenagers. His rear bench seat has supported countless bags of groceries, shopping bags and 30 pound bags of bark dust. He’s hauled friends and friends of friends and their stuff, found room to hold accessories and parts for the Harley, the Bentley, and other vehicles I’ve owned. In a raging snowstorm, with sunroof fully open, he proudly carried an eight-foot Christmas tree home. Victor has hauled countless other items I’ve acquired and transported during the twists and turns of my personal roadmap.
From single girl living in sunny California, to married woman living in the Pacific Northwest, to single again, he’s an old and trusted friend. His leakproof metal sunroof has protected me from rain, snow, sandstorms, wind, ice and hailstones. With an occasional quick crank of the grey plastic knob, the warm sun still shines in on my gray head and I’m transported back to Long Beach, California, 25 years old again… His original Blaupunkt AM-FM-Marine band radio still entertains me with clear reception from San Francisco to British Columbia.
A divorce necessitated selling my Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars, but Victor was ready to move up in status from the back of the garage as my reserve snow-going car, into ‘first car’ position as my daily driver/commuter transport once again. Now restored and retired, he remains always ready to go out for a drive on a sunny day or be displayed at a local car show.
An attractive fellow, he has caught the eye of four car thieves, through the years, but each time I managed to trace, retreive and repair the inevitable damage done each time he was taken. Once the car thieves parted him out and he became part of four other cars, but I was able to find and sort out all of the bits and join them together again. But even before he was restored to spot-on as-new condition, he always started instantly, snicked into gear eagerly and willingly chugged down the road, always ready to go without protest.
Not a bad investment for the hard-earned $1,325 listed on the original invoice.
And, no, he’s not for sale.
The ‘SP’ designation on the license means ‘Special’, issued to cars in the state of Oregon that are over 25 years old and driven less than 2,500 miles/year. It’s a one time fee (very low – I think it’s about $25 now) and never has to be renewed – nice! By the way, Victor has ‘European’ tail lenses with the yellow tops. This is because he was purchased directly from a dealer in the Netherlands. At the time, VW’s built for the U.S. had all red tail lenses to comply with laws. So far it’s not been a problem for me with the highway police.
Victor was delivered with fabulous Pirelli tires, with just 1-1/4 inch wide whitewalls. They lasted for 90,000 miles. Can you imagine? He now wears blackwalls because I can’t find whitewall tires to fit that have a more narrow whitewall – ones I’ve found are four inches wide and look garish.
I frequently take Victor to car shows and on front window, I display copies of original documents and photographs of when he arrived in the Los Angeles port. I watched him being lifted off the freighter, the German ‘Karpfanger’ by a crane. The ship was also carrying beef hides from a stop in Argentina. They had some kind of worms in the hides that California didn’t want introduced into their population so all cargo, including my lovely new car I’d been waiting for five months to receive, were put in quarantine for 21 days after being fumigated. Instead of that delicious new car smell, he smelled like insecticide for the first few months. Here he is at a local show a year or two ago after winning the ‘People’s Choice’ ribbon.
Smiths VW specialise in pre-1967 Volkswagen campervan restoration & offer full or part restoration work, including interiors, body work, and paint. With over 17 years experience ‘classic vehicle restoration’ qualified Matt Smith runs a Volkswagen workshop in Wadebridge, Cornwall – building & restoring specialist classic busses for customers.
Smiths VW work with the best possible suppliers to deliver the finest job throughout your custom project. With factory standard welding, fitment & finish. No restoration aspect over-looked as we work with Kustom Interiors and AirKraft – supplying a complete one-stop-shop restoration service.
In addition to restoration Smiths VW can find/source and supply any vehicle for you – with strong international contacts and shipping – so if you are looking for a left or right hand drive bus do not hesitate to call.
One of the most interesting photo opportunities for me would have to be a visit to a vintage auto graveyard, full of rusting classics waiting peacefully to be discovered and captured on camera. Rust and decay seems to lend itself as the perfect subject for HDR photography and there are many excellent examples on the internet. Perhaps one day I’ll make a trip to one of the few places that still exist like this and come away some pictures of my own. In the mean time I’ll feature some graveyards around the world and some of my favourite VW photos.
Autofriedhof, Kaufdorf – Switzerland
Autofriedhof, on the edge of Kaufdorf near Switzerland’s capital Bern was, until recently, one of Europe’s biggest vintage-auto graveyards. It contained more than 1,000 vintage vehicles including rusting Wolseleys, Ford Prefects, Porsches and several vintage volkswagens. Vehicles with ages ranging from the late 1920’s right up to the 70s.
Walter Messerli opened the brakers yard in 1933. A part time racing driver, Meserli’s collection numbered 2,000 vehicles at it’s peak and it was his intension to open a museum which would cover the history of modern motoring. His son Franz took over the graveyard in 1975 and planted trees due to complaints that the site was an eyesore.
In 2009 the authorities declared that the collection was an environmental hazard and ordered the site to to be cleared. A campaign was stared to preserve the site with over 10,000 people attending an open day. The aim was to preserve it as a ‘national work of art.’
An auction of the vehicles was held in September 2009 and as far as I can establish, the site has now been cleared.
Photos by www.mth-fotografie.ch