I begin writing this update on July 30th, 2003. It's the end of an era to say the least.  I feel sad, though I really shouldn't.  At the VW manufacturing plant in Puebla Mexico they are ending production of the air-cooled beetle.  After an amazing run of 69 years! the last Beetle will be produced and sent to Germany to take it's place in the VW museum.  
    This news has caused me to look back at all of the
air-cooled VW's that have crossed my path one way or another over the years.  I am told by my parents that I learned to walk in the back of a VW van while traveling from New Jersey to California.  The area behind the rear seat over the engine was my crib.  Car seat?  I didn't need no stinkin' car seat, I was practicing surfing!  
    There were the various bugs that my parents friends had, and more that my friends had as I grew older.  
    On a trip from L.A. to Mammoth, CA in Holly's van I saw something I'll never forget.  We were in the middle of the Mojave desert, miles from anywhere, at about 2 or 3 AM.  Everyone had fallen asleep (after smoking that much pot, who wouldn't be sleeping?) except myself and my dad, who was driving.  Suddenly, and without a single sound, the sky lit up with a bright gray/white sky from horizon to horizon, lighting up the desert around us as if the earth were inside a giant light bulb We both exclaimed, whaaaaaaoooooo!, it went dark again, & all the hippies woke up asking us what happened.  The whole thing lasted just a few seconds. We never found out what (or who!?) it was.
    There was my brothers baja bug that I zebra-striped with about 45 paint cans.  It was a really ugly brown color and this was my idea to help my mom sell it.  The guy who bought it said he was going to paint it brown - DOH!  
   
The only time I was ever scared from straight acceleration was in Bill's drag bug.  I remember sitting in the carpeted back seat area (no back seat) next to the MSD ignition module (it wouldn't fit in the engine bay).  We were cruising down the freeway at about 45mph when Bill suddenly down shifted and hit the gas.  I was immediately thrown against the firewall and not breathing.  He changed lanes, shifted, and let off the gas, all in a couple of seconds calmly stating, "That was 90" as we slowed down.  It's still the quickest car I've ever been in.
    Rich had the van with the loudest, clearest stereo I had ever heard.  I can remember hanging in the van at Grand Beach with the pop-top up, listening to Devo's "Wiggly World" at volume levels surely related to the hearing loss I now experience when Tracy is trying to tell me something I really would rather not hear.
    Another Rich had the van with the "Bust Me Now" horn.  Every time he would turn a corner the horn would intermittently beep as the wheel turned. Each corner was worth about 10-15 beeps.  I can remember laughing hysterically as a van full of us drove between strip clubs on Bob's bachelor party night.  Another time I was going to fly from LA back to Santa Cruz, CA on a Saturday night the day after Halloween. Some friends felt like a road trip so I cashed my ticket in at the airport and we drove up in Rich's van, driving down the strip in Hollywood checking out all the (other) freaks in their costumes on the way.  We drove all night, getting to Santa Cruz with the sunrise.
    My first very own VW was the '66 bug that I bought from my friend Todd for $500.  It was white with Chrome wheels.  It had been sitting in his driveway for months with the engine out.  I bought it and did a cheesy engine rebuild in the rain under a plastic tarp in the driveway.  It wouldn't start so we towed it around in second gear until, after about 1/2 mile it finally fired.  That car was slow, unreliable, bad handling, & had poor brakes, but I loved it!  This shocked me as motor vehicles have always been about performance with me.  
    My only other air-cooled VW was a red squareback that I bought for $200 with stripped crankshaft pulley threads (I wish I had known about JB Weld back then).  I had parked it where the crank pulley had fallen off & there it sat. One night very drunk and far from home, I had staggered to my little red car to crash in the back seat.  But the car was across the street in someone's yard!  I crawled in & passed out, waking the next morning with two strangers leaning on the front talking.  Were they surprised when I stumbled out of the car, still clutching my bottle of rum!  "Oh you'll fit right in around here" they said.  They were right and we partied all summer.  I sold the car to one of the roommates who said he was going to make it into a baja and take it to Mexico.
    Then we have Haifisch of course.  Tracy's engagement gift and the car that we got in and roared off to the reception in after our wedding ceremony, the story that the pictures in the next garage will tell.

    All good memories, and there are a dozen more.  Tracy says we should buy one of the last Beetles, but we just love the old body styles.  Given a choice of spending $10,000 on a 2003 Mexican Beetle or buying a restored '66 for the same money, it wouldn't really be a choice.  
    I'm more amazed than sad that today will be the last day of production for the old Beetle.  To say it's a car past it's prime is an understatement of SUV proportions.  The fact that they produced it for this many years is a testament to the design of what has truly become an automotive icon.
 
    OK, time to turn off the colored lights & the echo machine and fade back to the present! 
    Of course no dash is complete without a stereo! We covered the dash with masking tape so we wouldn't scratch our precious spray-painted masterpiece.
 
    We used the CD player as a head unit with a sub woofer placed under the passenger side of the rear seat.  The subwoofer powers itself and the two satellite cube speakers.  We cut a hole for a sound port in the wall under the rear seat near the center tunnel.