Beetles and Bikes
Part 1 - Before the Bike Bug
"You cannot step into the same river twice; for other and yet other waters are ever flowing on." -- Heraclitus (500 BC)
Editor's Note: This article was written in 2003 when I was the Motorcycles Guide at About.com. All the guides in the Automobile Channel were asked to write something about the discontinuance of production of the VW. This was my contribution as related to motorcycles.
Not long ago I was walking through my family room on the way to my garage where I intended to check out my two motorcycle trikes for an upcoming trip. Just as I was about to open the door to the garage, I heard the TV blaring: "Volkswagen has just announced that it will be shutting down production of the Volkswagen Beetle at its Puebla, Mexico plant later this summer." What? I knew that Volkswagen Beetles were no longer being sold in the USA. In fact I had owned a 1974 Volkswagen Beetle and it was one of the last standard Beetles sold in this country. Soon thereafter, the VW Golf was introduced and then the Super Beetle was phased out. Competition and emission standards had taken their toll.
I reached the garage and stood there admiring my shiny red 2000 Gold Wing 1500 SE with Motor Trike conversion.
It stood on the left side of my garage. Directly across from it was my wife's white 1998 Gold Wing SE with Motor Trike conversion. There are no cars in my garage these days, only these two trikes. I know something about last models too, since my Gold Wing was the last model year for the 1500 before the Gold Wing 1800s were introduced in 2001.
I've lived in this house since 1966 and seen a succession of cars in this garage. I've raised three kids and helped with the raising of two of my five grandkids. The cars that lived in this garage have been a big part of that raising.
Motorcycles came into my life late, only 14 years ago. My last Volkswagen VW left this garage just two years before that. Maybe there was some part of me that missed the fun of owning a "people's car" and longed to again have a vehicle that brought spirit, independence, and freedom back into getting from point A to point B. Maybe that void ended up being filled by motorcycles. I don't know but I'm sure it played a part.
I remember the first Volkswagen I owned. It was the first new car that my wife and I had ever purchased. We got married in 1961 and drove from Illinois to Massachusetts in a 1953 Chevy Belair 2-Door Hard Top. That car lasted only two years and we wanted to get a new car. At the time we had one child on the way. I had seen all the cute ads for VWs that were everywhere and desperately wanted a Beetle. There was a shortage of some kind at the time and people had to order a car and wait for it to be shipped from Wolfsburg, Germany. I kept calling the dealer weekly but my car had not come in. Finally, after 75 days of waiting, I went to the dealer and he said that it was hard to get a blue one like I wanted, but he had a couple of other colors in the back that I could have right away. One was a gray Bug with a sunroof. It was more than I had wanted to pay -- $1750 -- but I told him I'd take it.
That was the beginning of my love affair with the Beetle.
Now, Read Part 2 to see what happened to the Gray Bug and learn fun uses for the sunroof. Later, hear about my Blue Bug and how to run out of gas and not need to go to a gas station. Still later, read about my White Bug and how three teenage drivers are more than any Bug can handle.