When I was nineteen I lived in Seattle had a job and attended Shoreline community college. I drove a ford Mustang 2 that had been a hand-me-down from two brothers, who had both wreaked it at least once. I had paid to have the body work done but I didn't feel like it was mine. In fact, it belonged to my dad. I decided I needed a car. My employer offered a VW bug that he no longer needed.
It was blue and had a Baja package. The tires were street legal, 60 series. It had the look of an off road beast but the heart of a low rider. The gas filler hole had been filled with bondo and painted over. This made for an interesting first fill. I walked around the car twice before opening the hood and discovering the filler tube.
That was the first time I over filled the gas tank and the bug smelled a gas station for a week. That hadn't been the only mistake that had been that week. My dad and I picked the car up and had to put the motor in and the engine cage back on. The engine worked fine but when we picked up the cage we couldn't figure how it bolted to the firewall. I finally figure out how it fitted and we built brackets to make it work. Turned out it was up side down and I didn't find that out for 7 years. By that time I liked it the way it look and never thought twice about changing it.
I once took the car to Reno, about 1300 miles round trip. We had decided to go at night because the car had no Air conditioning. We needed to carry extra few gallons of fuel. The car got great gas mileage but I knew there would be a point that the service stations would be closed and the range of the car wasn’t there to make it all the way. In the middle of the night the gas gage started to do its death dance. Bounce up and down to let the driver know that they were about to start walking when I stopped and put 2 or three gallons of fuel in. I can remember that night, we were in the east side near the southern boarder of Oregon and the stars were amazing. The Milky Way lit the sky like lightning.
I drove the car for years until one father’s day I went out with some fiends to do a little rock crawling. I had put some heavy duty air shocks on the front that gave me awesome clearance in the front. But on the way back I looked down to get a tape off the floor and was blow off the road by the wind. I was going about 60 mph a long the bottom of a large ditch, the breaks failed and just a I grabbed for the E brake hit a culvert that worked as a ramp launching us high into the air and into a row of mail boxes that were made out of railroad ties.
I would have liked to think if the mail boxes wouldn’t have been there I would have made the jump and landed safely on the other side.
On a side note my friend Steve made up a song about the experience sang to the melody of “Day Oh“. It went. “Hey mister Bondo man, Bondo me Volkswagen, mail box come and we can’t go home. Mail boxes came and WE can go home.” That last part was for the back up singers. Oh it was well thought out.
I ended up in the hospital for the day and my dad drove up to visit and retrieve my car from the ditch. It was totaled. The front end a total loss, every fender ripped off and the windshield shattered and the window column crushed.
I decided that I wanted to spend as much as I could fixing, what I had done to my little car. I spent a year of Fridays working on that car. Back then I lived in Yakima, and the car was at my parent’s house in Sunnyside. Understand I had three jobs and it was hard to get Friday’s off. But I got most of them off to spend time with that car and my father.
Looking back that was a great year. I got to spend a lot of time with my parents. It was one of my dad’s last good years soon his battle with cancer and failing body would slow him down. Some Fridays, he would come over and help me work on the car. Some days I would work on one of his projects. I loved that time. We ended up painting it white and it was shiny.
The car went with me to Ellensburg with a new paint job. I deliver pizza in it for a few years and drove it in several parades. The company had given me nice decals to place on the doors and it looked sharp.
I drove it less once I bought my convertible because it was in fact a convertible. But one story of that era comes to mind. Jan and I were going on vacation and we were loading my convertible when she noticed that the tabs were due by about a month. So the trip was off. You can't buy a set of tabs to save a life in Ellensburg on a Saturday.
As I thought about what to do I looked over at that little white bug of mine. It hadn't been on a trip like that for a long time. I had it down in Reno, but that was a long time ago and really wondered about driving into Seattle. An hour later we were on the freeway going 70 miles an hour with the rest of the traffic.
That was the last big trip I took with that car. I drove it less and less until it broke down. When I started to fix it my dad past away and I never had the heart to fix it without him.
A few weeks ago I sold that car to someone that is going to rebuilt it once again. Part of me hated to see that car go. Part of me couldn't wait to be separated from it, but most of me just still misses my dad.
If you want some advice Britney have your dad help you with that little car. He still has it in him and you may just build a connection you never thought you would have.