Posted on 9th Dec 2015 @ 7:56 AM
What is it about old VWs that attract so many of us toward them? I have owned many different VW busses and bugs and type 3s and other models, but I never seem to get tired of them. Frustrated at times, yes. Especially when you're left along the roadside, dead in the water with no one around to help. Aside from those adventures though, there is the quest to find an unmolested VW that hasn't seen to many adventures of its own.
On that note, I just got back from a little trek I went on after having called on an ad for an all original 1970 passenger bus with just shy of 74,000 miles. I was a day late but not a dollar short (this time), but nevertheless, I called the phone number listed and I sent an email expressing my interest in this bus. The seller was diligent in not only posting some pictures in the ad, but had also taken video of the bus as well as video of him driving the bus. The price of the bus was very fair and the fact that the bus was a running and driving machine with all of its original components made it very desirable.
Side note: For those folks reading this that are just getting into VWs for the first time, I cannot express enough how much value there is in finding a vehicle that is as complete as possible and even more when it's complete with its own parts that it originally rolled off the assembly line with. When you consider buying a bus or bug that's missing parts, begin to do the math in your head of just how much those parts will cost in the long run. It just may not be worth it to buy the vehicle in the end if you have to take out a second on your house just to cover the costs to get the spare parts not to mention the costs associated with restoring those same parts.
I was sitting in the warehouse at Eddy and Dave's Garage when I received a phone call from the seller. Personally, I was surprised to hear that he still had the bus, but when I found out exactly where the bus was, I realized that for some folks it was just a little too far which happened to be up near the Canadian border. The seller commented on how he'd received a few calls on it from buyers all over the world but most of them were "tire kickers" and making low-ball offers. I knew the price of the bus was fair and I also knew that the bus was NOT a 1970. When I had looked at the ad, I noticed that the side markers on the bus were round and not square so it had to be a 1968 or 1969. The seller confirmed that it was indeed a 1968. "Very cool" I thought since this year has some one year only items, and again, this is a complete bus. I told the seller that I would take the bus and asked him to give me his bank details in order to go and make a deposit and then I would arrange for the transport of the bus. That was when the seller told me that he wanted cash. Not a wire transfer, not a Postal Money Order, or any other form of payment. Just cash.
So this is where you have to think out of the box and realize that you just might have to go for it just to make something happen. Considering the fact that the seller and I did not know each other at all and more importantly that we each wanted what the other had, I told the seller that if he was willing to negotiate a little with me, I'd leave on the first flight I could book and personally put cash in his hand. Now, how many times have we all heard someone tell us "oh yeah, I'll take it for sure" and yet nothing ever comes to fruition? Unfortunately, more times than I can count on my hands. With this said, I wasn't offended when the seller told me to just email him my itinerary once I was booked. I'm pretty certain that he was under the impression that there was no way I'd be flying to just give him money and then come home. The next morning, I was dropped off at the airport, went through security and got myself some coffee. It was going to be a long day. From Orange County to San Francisco in a regional jet, and then a big jet to Seattle. Landing on time, I didn't waste any time in going to get my rental car that was going to take me for the next 100 miles north. Driving old VWs can sometimes make one anxious when the car's idle seems to drop while sitting in traffic, but the car I had rented was a new car. However, it had some sort of ECO set up that would cause the motor's idle to fluctuate more times than I cared for. Considering I was on a schedule and needed to be somewhere at a certain time, I was very anxious just thinking that this little white car that looked like a giant baby shoe was goint to take a dive on me. Fortunately, it did not, and because of this ECO set up, I managed to get to my destination hardly using much gas.
The drive through downtown Seattle was pretty cool until the sun had gone down. The rest of the way didn't lend itself to many sights, at least at night. When I finally rolled up to the place where my new purchase would be, I was happy to see many VWs present. This was a very cool small VW shop and even after my flights and drive through rush hour Seattle and Everett traffic, I was only 18 minutes later than what time I had told the seller I'd be arriving. I checked out the shop, checked out the cars and then saw the bus I was getting. A true survivor. Original paint, all the seats, and surprisingly lightly worn front seats. The bus was not only a good running bus but also driveable. Considering where it lived its entire life, it was obvious that it would have some rust, but nothing major nor structural. I was happy.
The seller had originally offered to take me to dinner IF I had come up like I said I would, and keeping to his word, he took me to "the local watering hole". The best part was that we went in style as he drove us in his 1967 type 3 squareback with a smorgasbord of high performance modifications which gave this car quite the power as well as the handling to give me, the happy passenger, quite the ride. The ride, restaurant, food, and the conversation were all fantastic. It's always fun to meet new people and even better when you have VWs in common. After dinner, it was time to go back to the shop and close business for the day. I was off on my 100 mile journey back to the airport.
By the time I got back into Seattle and topped off the rental for its return, the chances of getting a flight back home were slim and none. It was midnight and all of the flights had left hours ago. This next part of the story sounds better than it really was. Considering my original return flight was scheduled to leave at 8AM, meaning I had to be at the airport by 6AM, it just didn't make any sense to drop $80+ on a hotel room that I'd more than likely only get 4 hours of sleep in before it would be time to get up, check out, and head out. So, I made the executive decision to not spend that money and forego a warm and confortable and safe environment. Instead, I decided to sleep in the back of my rental car, in the parking lot, a mile from the airport, in 32 degree weather. After all, I had a t-shirt under a button up shirt and a flanel shirt over that. Jeans and leather slip-on loafers and low-cut, sport socks. I blasted the heater of my tiny, ECO friendly shoe of a car, and hopped in the back seat to lay down......well, not stretched out of course. I also turned the motor off after heating the car up in order to not inadvertently cancel my own contract. Finally, time to rest.
Hardly an hour had passed when I woke up in fetal positon and freezing. I needed to warm up and therefore start the car, but thanks to the safety feature of having to depress the brake pedal before pushing the engine start button on this little beauty, I was forced to break from my fetal position and crawl back between the front seats, stretch my leg downward onto the brake pedal and then start up the motor. I did this little routine 3 more times before I finally threw in the towel and decided at 4:30AM to get up, return the car and get to the airport. Just minutes after dropping off the car, I received an email from United informing me that my return flight had been canceled. Ah yes, tired, looking (and probably smelling) like a bum, I decided to take my sweet time in the bathroom to freshen myself up and then walked to the counter. Little did I know, my day would actually get better.
Rather than having to wait for the next flight on United, the attendant at the counter graciously handed me a voucher and pointed me to the Alaska Airlines counter where I not only got a flight home, but it left in 45 minutes and it was direct flight. Not having more than just my backpack, I made it on time to my flight and things were now back on track. Except for my body temperature which didn't seem to want to come back up from my night of bliss. For some wild reason, I could not warm up. 2.5 hours later though I was back in sunny southern California and after getting home and taking a power nap, I was ready to head to Eddy and Dave's Garage and get some work done.