There’s not much to say about my 1971 Standard Beetle purchase.
In late 1994 I was working with a woman who had a very beat up Beetle that I envied every time she pulled into the parking lot in it.
Now this is a period of my life I refer to as The Dark Ages. I was in my 20s with a useless degree in Physical Anthropology and a background in Greek Classics and Animation and had zero prospects. I was barely surviving, my grandmother sending me cash every now and then to pay my rent. I was charging everything to survive with little to know hope of paying it back.
I finally got evicted from my apartment due to failure to pay rent and thankfully, some friends let me move into their new place with them. One of my new roommates got a phone job in customer relations at Victoria’s Secret Catalog of all places and since I had no car, nor real world career prospects, I ended up getting a job there in customer service on the same shift he had so I could more or less drive into work with him.
Suffice to say, being a man working at Victoria’s Secret Catalog on the 2nd shift and talking to people about bras and panties all day was not exactly a great thing but I was at least making ends meet, though I was literally living check to check and had creditors and ex-landlords taking me to court.
I don’t remember the details really, but somehow I scrounged together the $300 she wanted and bought the car from her. Of course, and I would never tell me 19 year old son this unless he asked, I drove the car without ever getting it titled and also without insurance. I was THAT poor.
The car was a 71 Marina Blue standard Beetle, with most of the front passenger pans rusted through, and all of the heater channels more or less cancerous as well. It ran. But not very good. Hence why her boyfriend wanted her to get rid of it.
Now this was way before the era of the web. There were no online stores and you either got car parts from NAPA or mail order. JC Whitney still was in the air-cooled business back then and that was the go-to place for parts.
It was running a rough and I managed to find both a copy of John Muir’s How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot as well as a Chilton guide.
Now I was a total amateur with zero skills who just really loved Beetles and wanted to keep my beater running so I got a carb rebuild kit from NAPA and a can of carb cleaner dip. Using the books I attempted to clean and rebuild the carb. This of course was all done on the street in front of our apartment.
The carb was soaking for days in the solvent and of course, without it, the Beetle could not run.
Taking the public bus to work every day, I did not notice that someone on the block had called the cops of the car as being “immobile and not moving” and they had marked it. I never noticed the mark on the tire and I came home one day to the car gone.
The city of Columbus had towed it and impounded it.
So there I was. With no real money to speak of. The car not titled in my name yet. No proof of insurance. And a non-functional car in an impound lot somewhere.
There was no way I could get the money to pay to get the car out, deal with all of the trappings of legitimate car ownership, as well as have it towed to the house again.
And so I left my 71 Beetle to rot and knew there was nothing I could really do to change that fact.