My First Car Reappears

Back in 1969, while I was living in a dorm at Emerson College (it would be unfair to Emerson to claim I was attending school), I bought a car. It cost $400, a big investment for me.

Today, I was pulling into the parking lot at Dunkin’ Donuts when I spied this 1960 oxidized green VW Beetle. That’s exactly what I owned!

OK – it wasn’t originally oxidized green, but that’s what it evolved to.

The 1960 Volkswagen was a tiny death trap with no safety features. There are no seat belts. The dashboard is metal. The gas tank is under the hood in the front, where the crumple zone is today. With thin tires, any wind pushed it back and forth across the road.

Its six volt positive electrical system (today’s cars are 12 volt negative) made getting parts a chore. It also had headlights with the power of birthday candles and a three speed manual transmission.

With no radiator (it was air cooled) the heating and defrosting systems were pretty close to worthless. Air conditioning… you rolled down the window – by hand.

I loved this car. You just have no idea. It was liberating.

I once got my VW to 62 mph, but that was on a long, flat, deserted stretch of Military Trail in West Palm Beach. Going up hills, it often had trouble sustaining 50 mph.

The owner of the car pictured below runs a garage restoring old VWs. I have seen him driving around in classic Beetles before, but never in my car.

The back story is, this particular car was owned by a woman who kept it in storage for thirty years.

It will be its old self soon. This guy knows what he’s doing.




5 thoughts on “My First Car Reappears”

  1. If you are interested… I spied a person with a beetle collection in his yard [6+]. He lives on the Newington/Berlin line near the new Stew Leonards. Is it time to get handy and buy a restoration car?

  2. Looks a LOT like the one I rode to school in. Friend of mine owned it, I paid for gas. My dad also had one the exact same color.

    Ran up and down Military Trail going to PBJC in the 65-67 time frame. Mom Still lives near the airport…it was an Air Force base then.

    Good times–floted the old beast across a flooded parking lot at PBJC once, just to find a dry parking spot. VeeDubs will float–for a while if you drive it into a flooded lot gently.

    Yep, they were deathtraps in rainy weather, not worth a darn in a collision, but hey, they got us where we were going.

  3. Wow. Lot’s to say. One, tell Greg to get out of the handicapped spot. Two, don’t get him talking on VW or you coffee will get very cold. ie, How VW stopped him from using his long established Rusty Bug company name. Three, he’s my daughter’s mechanic (’74 Karmann Ghia) and he’s good and fairly priced. Four, I had a ’57 VW (little oval rear window) in college – to replace my earlier ’51 and ’56 Plymouths from high school days and my ’54 Ford and ’53 Checker (!) from other college days. The VW lasted me three years, and I was able to change the brakes all by myself as well as the clutch by dropping the engine (with the help of a friend.) Challenge you to do anything even remotely similar with today’s cars. And five, don’t get me started, either.

  4. It is impossible to understand today, but this car was as much of a lifestyle statement as anything else.

    The only thing I knew how to do was play with the idle screw on the engine to keep it from stalling at traffic lights.

    Rich – my ‘speed record’ was on Military Trail, just north of the airport and continuing to 45th Street. Back then, that was a desolate stretch of road with no businesses. Not so now!

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