After changing planes in Phoenix we touched down in Sacramento around 9:45pm. Ron and his girlfriend were there to meet us and luckily for us our bags came off first so we were on our way.
Ron lives in Vacaville, CA – a short drive from the Sacramento airport. By the time we were on the road it was dark, so we could not see much of the California countryside.
We arrived at Ron’s place and the Bug was sitting there – looking pretty good. Ron also had a nice older Bug in the driveway and a gorgeous split-window bus in the garage. I knew I was dealing with someone who knew his vintage VW’s.
We went in, and Ron had warned us to expect another Bug in the living room. Yup – he had taken out his sliding doors to move a Bug into the living room as it had been painted and he wanted it protected.
As I said, Ron was selling the car for a friend. As you know the car belonged to Victor Chu, and after Victor died, his nephew ended up with the car. I asked , if both Ron and his friend were such VW nuts, why he did not want to keep Victor’s car, and Ron explained that both he and his friend were very much into older VW’s from the 50’s and 60’s and if the car had been a little older then his friend would have kept it or Ron might have bought it.
The other (unsaid) explanation may have been that this Bug was a ‘Super Beetle’ and a lot of vintage VW collectors don’t value the ‘Super’ as much as a ‘Standard’ Beetle.
Ron insisted I go out and check out the car and take it for a test drive.
I was a bit nervous about driving it, as it had been a long time since I drove a Beetle with standard transmission and manual (non-power) steering.
He handed me the key, which immediately brought back memories of my Bug as the key looked the same.
I opened the driver’s door and suddenly had a big smile on my face.
“What is it Dad?” my daughter Sara asked.
“The smell.” I said. “I had forgotten what old Bugs smelled like, and suddenly the fragrance of old Bug brought me back 32 years. It was the same smell my Bug had – a kind of mixture of oil, gas and old Bug smell. I loved it. I was not expecting an olfactory experience, but it was comforting.
I was right to be nervous about driving. Ron must have had a good laugh as I clumsily shifted gears and drove around the block. The steering felt like turning a tank.
Ron was more than thoughtful in preparing the car for us. In my negotiations he had agreed to do the front brakes and replace a leaky fuel line under the gas tank.At that point my thoughts (and unbeknownst to me – Sara’s thoughts also) were – “We are driving this all the way across the country? What were we thinking?”
He not only did an amazing job on the fuel line and front brakes – brand new drums, pads and wheel cylinders, but changed the starter which was sticking and connected a 12V power adapter to the battery for GPS or a radio/iPod etc.
I gave Ron the agreed upon sum, plus some extra for the additional work. I wanted to give him more, but our budget was pretty tight.
Sara and I loaded our luggage into the car (this is where ‘Super’ Beetles outperform ‘Standards’ – luggage space is 85% more!) and we drove a short distance to the Courtyard Marriott in Vacaville for a good nights rest.