Monday, April 5, 2010

Herbie the Love Doodad

by Nathan Stout



Chris, did you see that Rich Dad convention is coming to the DFW area soon?

Speaking of doodads... I love Volkswagen Beetles. Not because Hitler saw them as the vehicle of a successful Nazi Germany but because I have fond memories of them. My aunt used to own one back in the day and I vividly remember riding in that fun little car. Here is a little history on that car:

It was invented by Ferdinand Porsche in Stuttgart, Germany in 1931. Yeah, the humble Beetle came from the mind of Porsche, suck on it!

Yes, 1931... the car has been around THAT LONG.

I was designed to be simple to work on and sturdy. I would say that since the car was made until 1979 (but continued to be made in Mexico until 2003) that that formula was correct. That's a legacy of over 49 years of basically the same car (with some slight changes in 70's with the 'Super' Beetle).

Of course in 2003 the 'new beetle' came out... what a load of crap. It is basically a compact car with a round design and the name Beetle stamped on it. It in NO WAY similar to it's namesake.

Like I said my aunt had one and that's where I got my initial love for the car. I would have to say that the tipping point between a fondness and obsession came from my friend Barrett (when I was 19ish). He was a bug nut and knew how to work on them. He claimed that you could work on a Volkswagen with a paperclip. That's a bit of exaggeration but it's not too far off the mark. The car is simple by design.

In 2008 I finally gave into that obsession and bought a broke down beetle with no engine. I also bought a couple of repair books and got some repair videos. My intention was to restore it to running order. Being a complete amateur I knew this would be tough but since it was such a simple car I knew I could do it. The car I got was from a fellow employee for cheap but I soon discovered the car was really worn out. There was a lot of rust and rot. I did learn quite a bit about the Volkswagen during this time. I drug my feet on the car and eventually I sold it for fifty dollars to some guy who works on them.

Later that year I began saving up some money to try to buy a running Volkswagen. I figured I would work backwards this time. Start with a running car and fix the issues it had to make it better. I wasn't looking for a car to restore, just one that would run that I could drive around.

A few months later I found one on Craigslist out of Canton. It was fifteen hundred dollars.

It had been years since I drove a standard so I wasn't confident about driving the car all the way from Canton (more than an hour and a half drive). I got my coworker to help me so we headed out and promptly got lost on the way out there. It took us over two hours to get there and once I got a look at it I saw it had a lot of issues. I had committed myself to it already so I took the plunge. I followed my coworker home, praying the car would last the journey. The brakes were VERY soft and the car would die out unless you kept giving it gas (it didn't idle well). We made it with few issues and I could at last breathe a sigh of relief.

I did take the car out and drove it around the neighborhood several times. I also did some extensive cleaning inside and discovered the secret former life of this banana yellow bug. While I was vacuuming out the interior I kept running upon a lot of glass. I mean a lot. With this clue and clues like different colored door panels (only noticeable once I pulled off the interior panels) I figured out that my beetle had actually be several different beetles hobbled together to form a more perfect union... Voltron Unite!

One of my 2010 10-week goals was to get the car into a shop to have its issues fixed (including a nasty case of out-of-wack camber on the back wheels). I quickly accomplished this although it took quite a long time to find someone who could work on older imports. I found a guy in Boyd who knows enough. I took the car there in February and within five minutes I learned five new things about my car (and the VW) in general.

I know await him to finish working on it. I told him I was in no rush so he could take his time.

Just before I took it I had Chris drive it around the block to give me his opinion on what might be wrong with it. He didn't think much but I got the distinct impression that he thoroughly enjoyed driving it. Chris has this fondness for stick shift driving. He is attributed (through Miguel) of stating that "driving a standard is not just driving, it is 'piloting' a car". After we drive it around Chris stated that he wanted to get a pizza delivery job again just so he could drive the VW. When it comes back from repair I will let him drive it again.

Oh yes, and for those of you who are wonder what a Doodad is and why I told Chris that Rich Dad was coming to the area... Rich Dad is the 'catch phrase' of Robert Kiyosaki (the noted make yourself rich guy). He calls stuff we buy (but don't need) Doodads. Chris has always called my VW a Doodad.

1 comment :

  1. As a kid I liked the VW also. I think the secret of its design is that, more than most cars, it looks like a happy face. This is especially true of the VW vans. The headlights have pieces on the top of the lights that give them the distinct appearance of eyelids.

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