Glenn’s Crazy Quest
I’m a relatively new member. The first meeting I attended was the January 20th one. I’ve just embarked on my first restoration and it looks like I will need a lot of advice. I thought you might find my VW story interesting (or fun & whacky).
I have wanted to restore a VW for a long time and I often browsed Ebay to see what was available at auction and the going prices for VW Bugs.
Just after last Christmas (2002) I casually placed a bid on a 70 Bug and was very surprised when my $650 bid won it. I should have learned all about it before bidding, however. I might have asked a few pertinent questions that would have given me second thoughts. After the bidding my communication with the owner proved very interesting.
The good news:
· I learned that the car was in good operating condition. The people who owned it had kept it in good shape and he had all the original records.
· The motor had been overhauled in the last 60,000 miles.
· He had a new replacement muffler and new bumper that would come with the car.
· The tires and brakes were in good condition.
· Heating channels were OK
The other news:
· There was rust. At least one pan will need replacing.
· Two fenders would need replacing.
· The interior needs a complete going over.
· Radio doesn’t work.
· Windshield has a small crack across one corner.
I figured, “What the heck, you can’t expect too much for $650 and it looks like the good news outweighs the concerns.” Then I realized that the car was located about 100 miles north of Seattle. It had 392,000 miles on it and it was January.
I looked into transporting the car by truck and was more than a little surprised to learn it would cost over $1,000. So I considered driving it to Memphis myself. I had a free airline ticket so, if the car crapped out on the way back, I would only be out the $650 plus whatever other expense I incurred. Over my wife’s stringent objections I wanted to give it a shot. After much discussion and a lot of promises to “Take it easy. Drive carefully. Don’t drive at night, etc.,” she agreed to let me go.
I arrived in Seattle at about 11AM on a cold January day. I then had to take a shuttle bus 50 miles north where the seller had agreed to meet me. He picked me up and we drove north for about another hour (I thought we would be in Canada if we went much further.) Finally we arrived at his home and my first look at the VW turned my formerly pleasant attitude quickly into dismay and apprehension. The car was a mess. There were these flimsy, ugly, 1960’s seat covers over threadbare seats and the car smelled like it had once been burned. I wondered, “What in the heck have I done?” I was about to drive this dinosaur 3500 miles over the Rocky Mountains and through the desert on the word of a seller that, “Oh, it should be OK.”
I decided not to go through Montana. Although it was 900 miles shorter route to Memphis, I felt better going south to Los Angeles and then east to Memphis. That’s what I would do.
I stopped in Seattle to see a friend for an hour and then drove south in a driving rain through Washington and turned in at about midnight in southern Oregon. Rain continued the next day and I ended my second full day of driving in south central California. The next morning brought heavy fog. I drove about 100 miles under 35MPH with my head hanging out the window most of the time.
Through all of this driving I was amazed at the sturdiness of the little car. The motor appeared to be strong, steering was good and the heater worked fine and I was very comfortable driving the car. With no radio, however, I was getting bored so I began talking to the car. I decided that since she was doing so well I would give her a name. I named her “Veronica Worthington.” and I nicknamed her “Verrie Worthy” for short. I think she liked the name.
I decided to head for Vegas on the next stop so we got to see all the huge wind machines on the California hills and the Hoover Dam. I started taking pictures of Verrie at all notable locations. She was really looking good.
I figured her mileage at about 29MPG – better than I expected for such a mature vehicle. But gas became a problem about 100 miles from Vegas. Traveling through places like “The Devil’s Playground” you don’t find many gas stations available or open. Just when I thought I would have to start pushing Verrie, we came upon a ramshackle outpost where I could buy gas for just $2.50 a gallon. In Vegas I took pictures of Verrie in front of the MGM Grand (from our parking lot at Motel 6). We lost a couple hundred in the casinos.
Traveling from Vegas to Phoenix was a real adventure. The winds were horrendous. Some tractor-trailers were pulled over to the side of the road. Campers were stopped. But Verrie kept on going. The wind would occasionally lift the front of the car off the road causing me to fight the wheel to keep us in a straight line. Fortunately there were not many vehicles on this route. This went on for about 100 miles. Not a happy time.
We stopped in Kingman AZ just to travel a few miles on old Route 66. We also found an import auto supply store where I purchased a wiper blade and a bulb for Verrie’s left rear blinker ($4.88 total). In Phoenix I stopped for a short while to visit other friends and then drove north to Winslow where I spent the night.
The next morning, we took off for Albuquerque NM. This was a fun part of the trip. The weather was nice. The scenery was a lot better than the desert, and we were tooling along at 70MPH without a care in the world. We stopped in Albuquerque to see some other business friends and I decided that since Verrie was doing so well, I would give her a treat – an oil change. Valvoline did their number on Verrie and we left the city feeling very good – for a while. All of a sudden Verrie starts choking. She was bucking and shaking and it was almost like she had something stuck in her throat (or carburetor). Well I have no idea how to give the Heimlich maneuver to a VW so I figured this was it. Verrie was done for.
Verrie stalled several times and each time it was more difficult to get her started. Then I remembered something form my distant past. A friend once told me that, in the mountains, you had to adjust the carb for the altitude. Could that be it? Well I decided to continue coaxing Verrie along – coasting whenever we could to get us to a lower altitude. I don’t know how to adjust a carb on a 34-year-old VW. Well it wasn’t long at all before she was her old self, purring like a kitten and zinging down the highway at 70MPH again.
We stopped our last night near Oklahoma City. We would have gone further but I came to understand that almost every single mile of highway in Oklahoma is under construction. You cannot believe the mess this state is in along Route 40. The next day was worse. I thought Verrie’s entire chassis would disassemble due to the nonstop shaking and vibration from the rough roads.
I never thought I would ever be glad to travel in Arkansas, but this time was a blessing. Fort Smith to Little Rock to Memphis was a very pleasant drive. This was a good day trip. We arrived in Collierville at around 6PM. Glad to be home and happy to have made the trip with just $4.88 in repairs to Verrie.
Right now Verrie is in my garage. Fenders have been removed, some rust corrected and a little primer sprayed. It has now been almost 10 months since I worked on Verrie and I have amassed a long list of questions about proceeding with her restoration. Most have to do with molding removal and upholstery replacement. I hope to complete the cosmetic work this year. I will probably need a lot of friendly ears to listen to my concerns and offer advice.
Ed. – I hope you enjoyed this trip story as much as I did. You must agree that this is a story that just had to be told!
Thanks so much to Glenn for sharing this. His story was published 99.9% as written!