There was a 1960’s vintage auto show that surprised me at a local mall this past weekend. There was a DJ playing 60’s music, a charity fund raiser, flea market and kid activities.
A highlight for me was far more simple than all of that.
I stuck my head into a 1964 VW Beetle. The memories came flooding back to high school days.
The aroma of that simple, mostly vinyl interior is the same today as it was 50 years ago.
I did not get my first car until I was almost 21, and it was a Ford Fairlane, not a VW. But so many friends were driving them at the time.
They were inexpensive, simple, designed to not go over 62 mph, could hold 3 passengers, at best. All of that must have made it a desirable choice for parents of teenage drivers.
I was taken back to late night trips home from athletic events, after school club activities, meeting up at safe local hangouts, doing Chinese fire drills (exiting and circling the car while at a stoplight).
And after it all, scraping together enough change to fill up the gas tank.
And then there was the time in college when the guys in the next dorm took apart a VW beetle while the owner was asleep and reassembled it in a study lounge.
The tradition of spotting them on the highway and punching the arm of the nearest victim while yelling “Punch Buggy” lasted well past the 1960’s.
And to think that on its initial US import in 1949, there were only 2 VW’s sold. No one believed at the time that Americans would want such a cheap, unadorned vehicle, and surely not one made in a foreign country.
By 1962, one million had been imported.
It re-emerged with a similar design, and a front engine, sometime in the late 1990’s, but its glory will most likely never equate to what it was in the 1960’s.
And, oh, that new car smell.
Even 50 years later, with eyes closed, it would be familiar.