V for Victor


I was recently contacted by Diane Brandon who told me the story of Victor Volkswagen, her ’65 Beetle which she has owned from new…

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.


Original invoice from 1965


Original owners’ handbook


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.


Victor still has his original Blaupunkt AM/FM/Marine band radio and it works perfectly.


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.

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13 comments

  1. Bruce the Bewildered

    It seems everyone has a VW story, but this is one of the best I’ve heard in quite some time! I did not cry (really), but it’s one of those stories that kind of gets to you like that. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Cynthia Meitle

    Diane is one of the coolest ladies you will ever meet and I feel privileged to count her as a friend. Victor is indeed a special gem, just like Diane. Thank you SO much for posting this for everyone to enjoy.

    • Malc

      Hi, It’s such a great story and such a loverly VW too. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of the Volkswagen magazines was interested in featuring Victor – assuming they haven’t already!

  3. Crafty bits

    What a beautiful car – and the colour is wonderful! It’s nice to see you’ve taken so much pride and that a car can last such a long time, that’s a true classic! Hearing your story of how it has provided in so many different situations, these are hard to come by nowadays.

  4. Giselle

    Probably the one thing I’ve found most irritating about VWs is finding replacement components, or at
    least it’s really a big pain regarding the much older vehicles.
    I’ve got a VW Transporter (T4) and sometimes it can take months
    acquiring components for that model, hate to think what a T1 model owner would
    need to do.

    • Malc

      Aircooled VWs aren’t cleap cars anymore, the hobby is getting very expensive. The are however quite a few companies doing quality reproduction parts and panels for oval and split-window beetles so restoring cars that would have once been parted out is now possible.

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