I can say I first fell in love when I was 2 years old.
My Godparents had no problem giving my mom, who had just gone back into the work force, a break on weekends by coming by to scoop their Godson to go get fresh strawberries from New Castle Farmers’ Market and just riding around. It got so in habit for me that whenever they came by and it wasn’t a weekend, I’d still get in the backseat of the car ready to go somewhere.
As much as I loved spending time with them and eating sweet strawberries, another love affair came out of those trips, one that’s been ongoing for 28 years now. You see, my Aunt Holly and Uncle Herb drove Volkswagen Beetles. Uncle Herb had the bright orange beast of a Super Beetle with mag racing wheels and Aunt Holly had a basic apple green Bug. Those small, funny looking cars were so cool to me that when I was old enough to answer what my favorite car was, it was the Beetle.
The brainchild of a great engineer named Ferdinand Porsche and financed by Adolf Hitler during the Depression, the Beetle was first known as the KDF Wagen before World War II broke out and when the Allied Forces crushed the evil Nazi empire, the once state-of-the-art KDF factory was in shambles.
Led by Heinz Nordhoff, Volkswagen rose from the ashes on the curved the back of a small air-cooled car with the engine in the back and the trunk in the front. After the first Beetles were laughed off the shores of the United States, Volkswagen continued to press on and by the middle of the 1960s, the Beetle was arguably the most popular car in the world, thanks to its quirky personality, offbeat styling and reliability.
It also became something of a pop culture icon when Disney based a series of movies around a Beetle with a mind of its own, Herbie the Love Bug. Also, the mass appeal and production gave nearly everybody a VW Beetle story as over 20 million copies of the original design was sold worldwide up until its retirement in 2003.
Herbie The Love Bug in Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo, one of my favorite movies
Ask somebody in your family about the Beetle and I guarantee you SOMEONE has a story of owning one, riding in one and driving in one. It never fails.
I had no problem sharing my riding story as you can see, but I still hope to own and drive an original Beetle one day. There’s a forlorn baby blue Beetle at the top of the hill of my neighborhood that I walk by every evening on my walk. I’m sure whoever owns it thinks I want to steal it, but I’d be glad to trade my Dodge Stratus for that Beetle. Seriously.
I think I’m a huge fan of the Beetle because we’re a lot alike – short, stocky, big noses, but have unique personalities and a lot of qualities that aren’t necessarily evident on the outside. Also I just happen to think it’s a neat little car and even though it’s quite popular, it still stands out from sports cars and luxury boats that people enjoy driving.
So that’s my first love story. I fell in love with a car that was once a tool of Nazi oppression but became a vehicle of peace, love and happiness. And it’s my longest lasting love affair to date.