I came across an article last month which linked to a short documentary produced by Red Urban and Volkswagen Canada. This film struck a chord with me because it illustrates many of the facets of the car/owner relationship that bind owners of Volkswagens not only to their cars but also to a larger community. The tale is really comprised of two fantastic stories, the first (both in terms of time and order told) chronicles a man, his 1955 beetle, and their extraordinary travels around the world (in itself a description which captured my attention). The second story is about another man reuniting the first man with his old four-wheeled friend decades after they parted ways. Now that is just plain cool! Without a doubt, the web is plastered with great reunification and adventure stories centered around VWs, but rarely are the two combined. Collectively, they tell a tale of greater proportions, one which well represents a common core within the VW community, the allure of adventure and a devotion to the vehicle that took us there.
The first story plies our sense of exploration and resurrects our own version of the independence, discovery, and freedom most drivers have experienced, at least with their first car. I am not necessarily writing about large scale adventures like seeing the world and such, but include the shorter, more local day trips as well, as both can provide new insight to old, known locals or open the door to experience new ones. This sense of adventure is not limited to owners of old Volkswagens of course, but it seems to be a very common trait I find within the community, perhaps almost universal.
The adoration garnered by these vehicles during these exploits of ours can serve as the foundation for a great sense of attachment between driver and vehicle, and it is very often replaced by a sense of loss when they are gone. More often than not, when someone reflects back on their long gone VW the person sentimentally tells me “I miss that car” or “I never should have sold my [bug/bus/ghia/other model type]. Again, maybe this is not exclusive to the Volkswagen community, but it seems to be more prevalent here. I sit squarely with the first quoted statement as I miss all my old VWs – including those I grew up among. They all departed for various reasons, all of which I can accept, but that does not stop me from wishing they were still around. Oddly enough, this is even true for some of the parts I have sold or given away. Like many others, I hold out hope that one day I will find the VWs I once owned, in particular the ’73 beetle or Big Blue (the only two with a chance of currently plying the highways), not necessarily to buy (though I will try!), but just to catch up and learn of their adventures.
I know of few other non-VW examples in which a person might take the time and effort to track down a former or current owner, but with old Volkswagens it seems fairly common. People search out former owners in a desire to know the history of their bus, bug, ghia, etc… Those that seek their old VW want to know about its journey after it departed from their lives. This dynamic feeds an odd yet fantastically cool dimension within our community, that of former owners seeking the new and vice versa. During my own journey across this continent in Big Blue years ago, I searched out, found, and visited a former owner of my bus, and I still send updates to the previous owner of Moby. In the grand scheme of this dimension, it seems owners treat these vehicles as historic relics, documenting, preserving, taking care of, and enjoying our much loved VWs as if each one was a valuable, priceless piece of history’s extensive puzzle. An odd view perhaps, but such an interesting component of Volkswagen ownership.
The story of VIN 903847 is not just of a car built in 1955, its first owner, and their amazing travels together, but also of how the car helped bring people together.