Welcome to wheels, Philip! You own one of the most iconic cars of all time and even with well over 20 million built, I doubt anyone would ever tire of seeing one of these on the road. Were you actively looking for one or did it just happen to come along?
I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but I actually own two of the most iconic cars ever — I also have a 1968 Fiat 500 which is back home in the UK!
As for the Beetle, it was found after a brief search. I had one before and it was so much fun to drive and so I guess I wanted to keep that joy alive. In fact, my first one — which was a 1976 model — was my very first car. It was bright orange and not in the best of condition, but it tackled the toughest roads in South America and just kept going.
I’ve got a kayak and at first I just wanted something big to throw it in so I could get to the beach. The problem was that a big SUV has no character and driving is just a chore. The roof rack on the Beetle was the perfect fix! I have had this car — which is a 1999 model and built in Mexico — for two years and when I bought it, it was in running order however I have had some major work done on the engine and body to make sure it’s in great condition.
The black and grey paint job looks fab and these cars were famed for being so easy to work on…
Indeed, with the simplicity of the engine and the car as a whole, any problem has been an easy fix — and I have a very knowledgeable mechanic to get it right. I consider myself a traditionalist when it comes to old cars and so I have kept the engine the same, while the body has only had some paint modifications and the original bumpers were replaced with T-bars to bring out the front and rear curves.
When I was a child I used to have pictures on my bedroom wall of supercars with the typical dreams of one day owning one. As I got older and cars became more modern, those ‘special’ cars became less special as their features were now simply standard. The beauty of simplicity with old cars became more ‘special’. There’s nostalgia about roll-down windows, springy seats and general character that reminds me of my childhood and family vacations. So now my dream cars are simply cars that I used to dream in.
That’s awesome. So, just how much fun are these Beetles with their famous air cooled engines to drive?
It’s a real pleasure — with the windows down, music playing and driving for the sheer joy of driving always brings a smile to my face. It is my daily driver; it’s comfortable on the highways running at speed as well as by the beach. It is always most enjoyable on the weekends when driving to the beach as that’s where the car is in its element and where I’m totally relaxed.
For an old thumper, the power created by the 1.6-litre motor is not bad at all but the engine’s cooling system has a vent running through the car so it can get a little noisy. I like to cruise and enjoy all the thumbs up it gets! When I go to a top hotel, the valet guys have no idea how to drive or start it and as a result, I come out later on to find it in the VIP parking right in front. It looks great amongst all of those Bentleys and Rolls-Royces I must say!
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Bet it gets as much attention — if not more than them! These Beetles go by several names; officially it was called the Type 1, while most refer to it as the Bug — have you named yours?
I sure have — mine is called Black Betty. If you don’t name your car then it has no soul! I am really proud of my Volkswagen — I often look at it and say, “I did that”.
Forget the positive smiles and surfing hand gestures people show when they drive past, what makes me really happy is the fact I am keeping an old man alive — and looking good in the process!
We can definitely respect that — and we hope it continues to make you smile for years to come. What do your family and friends make of it?
My nephews love it, my nieces call it a ‘dolly car’ and my parents like the nostalgia when they ride in it.
Old folk often tell me that they used to have one of these and then continue to recount old memories. Kids smile and people at the beach are always standing by it for photographs which is absolutely fine — but then I have wipe all those handprints off!
Tell us more about that 500 of yours…
I bought it in Italy and drove it to the UK and had several breakdowns along the way — but I have to say it is the best ride ever. I have slept in it, smiled in it and screamed in fear when it didn’t brake well down steep hills! The excitement of the ride is what makes it my favourite ride ever.
The Beetle and 500 are your dream cars — how does it feel to own them?
I am both proud and thankful. They have more character and history than any other car in existence.
In our current ‘throw-away’ society, to keep these old machine’s running is my homage to their past and a dream to show the care they deserve.