Ever since my rebellious days growing up in the sixties, I’ve striven to conserve to remain independent of my folks and still survive. Owning a car that I could keep running myself was instrumental for this purpose.
Some might label me as a conservative. I don’t accept that because so many self- proclaimed conservatives are extravagant with lives and cash when it comes to propping up the defense (sic) industry.
It is my classical conservatism that made me a Volkswagen fan starting in high school. My second car was a 1967 Beetle, bought brand new. Family subsidized the purchase but much of the cash came from my job at McDonald’s.
(A side note: Morgan Spurlock, who produced “Super Size Me,” has now confessed that the ill health he blamed on his 30-day McDonald’s binge was caused by alcohol addiction.)
I had a choice of a ’67 or a ’68 Bug and I opted for the ’67. The later model had those Ralph Naderesque fat bumpers, high-back seats, and smog devices that turned a slow car into a dog (no offense intended to you dogs out there). Those seats made it seem like an intercom was necessary to communicate front to back. The ’67 was the first year for the 12-volt system, making this the ultimate peoples’ car.
Unfortunately, that Zenith Blue bug, which cost $2,004.44 was destroyed by a Plymouth Roadrunner full of teenagers with 2,004 miles on the odometer. I’ve wanted another one ever since. For some reason, I’ve owned three 1959 Beetles. I once switched the engine in one in less than an hour, in a foot of snow. In researching for the Beetle we just bought, I found the record for the time it took for an engine replacement in a bug is under 7 minutes.
There is a belief that Volkswagen existed at the behest of Adolf Hitler. This is a myth, and a convenient one for people who hate Volkswagen because of what amounts to an act of civil disobedience when they altered the emissions for testing at the EPA. I correlate Volkswagen’s cheating to the sit-ins of the civil rights and anti-war movements of The Sixties. For many years before Hitler, German car companies were striving for a car that could be repaired and serviced by anyone.
The ’67 bug we found didn’t come with the 56-page operator’s manual but I found one on Ebay. In the manual it describes tightening the fan belt (by moving shims from between the pulley halves), adjusting the ignition timing, and adjusting the carburetor. Along with John Muir’s book, “How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive,” a few basic tools could keep one mobile and independent.
It may be called “the peoples’ car,” but mobile and independent is the opposite of a society dedicated to “the people,” as used in today’s political dialog pitting “the people” against the individual.