I had always had a dream (I guess part of my bucket list) to fly out to California, buy an old VW Camper and drive back, camping all the way. I thought it would evoke the old times – kind of like a Jack Kerouac ‘On the Road’ trip where time didn’t really matter and the trip was the adventure.
From time to time I checked the classified ads on The Samba – a web site devoted to Volkswagens, particularly older air-cooled ones.
Alas, I never really saw that great deal, and the longer I looked the higher the prices went.
In May 2012, my daughter Sara was graduating from Sheridan College, and told me she really wanted to do a trip after graduation.
Recalling my own California adventure in 1980 – 32 years previously, I half-jokingly said – “Let’s fly down to California, buy an old VW camper and drive back.”
Of course she said – “Let’s do it.”
I mentioned to my Mum about going to California (although pretty sure I left out the old VW camper part) and she said – are you going to drive on Route 66?
That kind of clicked everything in my mind. That ‘Jack Kerouac’ thing. Fly down to LA, buy an old VW van and travel back on those old backroads of Route 66, turning back time to those days when it was not about where you were going, so much as getting there.
You know – finding the second largest ball of twine in Kansas, or checking out the Cadillac Ranch.
I started to become more serious about perusing the classified ads of The Samba, but to my disappointment, it looked like for $8000 I might get an old rusted VW bus that would probably not make the trip.
I decided to look at something a bit more affordable. 1968 or newer Beetles looked reasonable.
I even got a guy out in LA to check a few out for me, but none seemed like ‘the one’.
By then, I had already booked a flight from Buffalo to LAX.
I emailed the guy selling the Bug, and asked him to send me hi-resolution photos of the worst parts of the car, knowing that usually the classified photos are the ‘best’ shots.
He did, and was pretty good pointing out that the seats needed recovered and there were a couple of small dents and paint chips.
Overall though the car looked amazing for a 42 year old car, and I knew that it was easy to recover the seats.
I arranged for him to take it to a mechanic in Sacramento that specialized in old VW’s and the report back was pretty good. Minor work was all that was needed.
Taking a leap of faith and going with my gut, I sent a deposit for the car.
This was it. We were actually going to do it. No turning back now.