I, probably like most people, tend to take the internet for granted. Not only is a ton of information available in mere seconds but we can engage a large community of people with similar interests. For me, the internet profoundly changed my VW hobby. No longer am I restricted to obtaining parts parts at shows or the local vendor. New information and research no longer depends on magazines, hard to find books, or meeting people at shows.
Sometime in late 1993 or early 1994, I gained access to email through my school and the world of the VW listserv opened up to me. Now-a-days, there are not only the same listservs but all kinds of clubs, groups, and forums. Access to VW microfiche, official parts and technical manuals, and photos of all things VW became so much easier. Cannot remember what connected to that plug under the dash? No problem, just spend a little time on the internet.
At first, the listserv was a way for me to stay in touch with the VW community outside of the car show season. I spent most of my time trying to help solve the issues of other members, researching, or setting up cruises and other gatherings. That changed a little bit after the Big Red One was totaled. The group became a way to get my story out to people who understood my disappointment and, perhaps more importantly, they served as a large search team for finding a replacement! No longer limited to just my local newspaper classifieds, I scoured the country for another bus with their help. A search that normally would have consumed months turned into one that was counted in days. Buses for sale were sent to me on a regular basis. Of course, I still had to sort through the various models, years, and conditions.
I was a picky buyer which resulted in looking at buses for a couple of months. I finally found a 71 westy that met my criteria and budget in AZ. One of the listserv members had just finished rebuilding the engine only to have it seize on the first test drive; discouraged he put it up for sale. Originally from CA, this bus had absolutely no rust but did have a fair number of dents and a lousy paint job. A deal was struck and she was loaded up on a Mayflower moving truck and hauled to NJ in July of ’95. We ended up having six adventure-filled years, including a cross-country trip, before I sold her prior returning to school. There will be quite a few posts related to these adventures over the course of this blog.