Monday, September 5, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Beetles!

image by laura*b under Creative Commons

It could be I only started noticing more old Beetles than usual on the road because of an article I read. Could be, but I know long before that I'd been wondering why I never saw any at all anymore. Maybe, just maybe, something was stirring amongst the driving public. Volkswagen announced the original Beetle's retirement from production way back in 1977. And in its day, it was quite an innovative vehicle.

The VW Beetle was actually the very first car I have a memory of. My dad had one for two years after I was born, and for years after I believed that the place where you put the gas on cars was under the front hood (the Beetle had a rear engine, of course, so under that hood was storage space, a trunk in the front, and the location of the gas cap). By the way, I mentioned the trend of returning Beetles to my dad the other day, and he went into a semi-rant about how unsafe they are. True, you'd probably be killed in a minor accident while driving or riding in one, but, isn't that choice of risk up to the individual and not the state that is now worshiped in this country like God?

And so, there is a peaceful rebellion of sorts developing. Government can force the automakers to build ever-more-complex, ever-more-expensive new cars that increasingly require 5-6 year mini-mortgages to buy and the ability to pay a $70-per-hour “technician” to service. But government can’t force people to buy these marvels of technology – and tyranny.

We can just say no.

And instead, we can buy cars built in the pre-government era (roughly, before the early 1970s) that are free of the encumbrances – and expense – that has been layered on over the past 40-something years.

The Beetle Mark I’s resurgent popularity tells me that at least some people have figured out that while you can’t fight city hall, you can do an end run around city hall.-Return of the Beetle – Mark I

My girlfriend recently wanted to buy an old Beetle, but it's not something I'd want her to be driving everyday. I do worry about safety, which is my own choice, so I'll no doubt have to eventually make sure she's driving one of those expensive modern cars with 3 thousand airbags.

However, personal transportation and the freedom and economic advantage it brings are vital, and to be honest, I may never be able to afford a brand new car, so I do want the freedom to choose. How about a car company called Simple Autos? It's not legal to open such an enterprise now to build new vehicles, but who says you couldn't "restore" old ones. I don't think you need much left of the original vehicle to do a legal restoration and sell it, and if it could be done cheaply enough, it might be a thriving enterprise. In the meantime, just look for existing ones for sale and save yourself some hard earned dough (I have a friend who never buys a new or evenly slightly used vehicle, he searches for old cars he can get for less than a couple thousand bucks, then drives them till they fall apart).

So, in just the last week, I'm seeing old, original Beetles everywhere. Three at the shopping mall the other day, and several a day on the road while just going about my business. At least I now know there are working ones out there if I ever need to buy one.

Would you drive an old Beetle?


  1. No way.

    And we've always had a VW in our family. As a matter of fact, may sell my Jeep for a Passat.

    The Fiat 500 or Mini's are other options in the Beetle category. I'm not convinced they're better on gas or safe either (along with our harsh winter weather in Quebec where temps. dip to -30c at the peak of winter and several feet of snow) but like you said, it's a choice - and that's all that matters.

  2. Interesting you mention the Fiat 500, T.C. I don't know about the quality of Fiats, though. The MINI is cool, but too expensive (though probably safe enough considering its size).

    The new 2012 Nissan Versa actually has my interest. I may buy a new car next year (I know, I said I couldn't afford one, but I might be able to swing an inexpensive one by then), so if you've got any suggestions, I love to hear them.

  3. Great article, I'm all for a peaceful rebellion like that.
    I think you can get all kinds of restoration parts for bugs at a reasonable prices too.


    Fiat has a cult following. Some of their cars are downright classic. With new management in place, they seem more serious about North America than they were in the past. We'll see.

    My brother in law is a car "expert" and feels the Mini (despite its problems) is a more proven car, though the finishing on the Fiat is excellent. The jury is out on the Fiat.

    In any event, buying a Fiat for our winters here is a risk. One major snowfall and it's covered up!


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