I had never really stopped looking at Beetles, for sale or otherwise.
On an almost daily basis I find myself looking at The Samba’s Classifieds, the Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Ebay for all vintage air-cooled cars. Sometimes I find pictures worth saving for inspiration. Other times I’d even find engine pics of stock setups that I could not find in diagrams or books even!
I would find insanely overpriced Beetles at various consignment shops and would sit laughing at the $20,000 asking price for an at best Good condition 73 Standard Beetle.
The insane auction sales of the last few years, especially for mint condition restoration 50’s and early 60’s Type 2 models has made everyone think their cars are Concours d’Elegance potential winners and with people paying over $150,000 at Barrett-Jackson for a 23 window Microbus have drive the prices of all vintage Volkeswagens high, regardless of if they are worth it or not.
Anyway, during the intervening months, there was one thing that really changed and that was me.
Off of work for 3 months because of the knee replacement, I had massive amounts of free time to research and take my newbie self into at least amateur level experience on air-cooleds. It was going to have to happen if I wanted my dream project, so I committed myself to trying to learn as much as possible without a mentor or experienced friend to guide me.
YouTube, many Facebook Groups, The Samba, and many other sites were my constant sources of reading and question asking. And digging into several television shows and mechanics, namely Edd China from Wheeler Dealers, the teams at All Girls Garage, Bitchin’ Rides, Garage Squad, FantomWorks, Jared and Lou of Car Fix, and Stacey David made me realize that while I could not hope, at my age and physical health, to become a professional, I could damn well become a decently educated amateur air-cooled mechanic with enough skills to do a large portion of the work on vintage Beetles that is needed to maintain them.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that my son Mak was studying to become an auto technician and as I found myself getting more into cars at a level I never thought possible, I also found myself enjoying a shared interest with my son.
But truly… the best thing that happened during the months after my surgery was getting out in the Garage of Love™ and at least attempting to work on both the 74 and then ultimately completely redoing the front suspension and brake system of Murbella, rebuilding a 40 year old original rack and pinion and more or less shocking myself that I could do all this with book knowledge and the right questions and answers.
And the feeling of accomplishment… the feeling of going out every evening and working on the cars to complete a task, and then moving on to the next task, really made me feel somewhat complete for the first time in my life. I mean, my daily job as what essentially amounts to being a business analyst/project manager/logistics planner has provided me absolutely no sense of satisfaction. My Beetles? Even the one that proved to be a nightmare? Well they did.
And by Summer I knew that while I could not deal with the severity of the 74’s issues, I could definitely tackle something a little more reasonable without all the necessary metal fabrication work that would be needed.
So I sought to find another source car, not encumbered by ideas of recreating my mother’s long gone 74. A car that could take some of the ideas I had for that car, with things different than Murbella, and a drastically insane personal commitment to wanting to learn skills that I never thought I would have.