Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Westphalia -- geezervagen?

The incoming email caught me by surprise. But the short note touched my deepest yearnings. It was from Cousin Libby in Atlanta. She wants a VW vanagon.

Libby is from the Mystery Woman’s side of the family.

I admire her even more now that she has revealed she want a Westphalia – I want a vanagon, too. I’ve been whining to get one for five years. What are the odds? Synchronicity. Or Synchromesh transmission (lame car joke).

The Mystery Woman demurs. Over and over again. In her past, and that was a long time ago, she drove a regular VW van. Until the sliding door fell off into a snow bank. She sure holds a grudge.

The Westys are still around because they are hard to kill. Owners are adamant their vans will run forever. I have a friend in Palm Springs who claims 245,000 miles on hers. Of course, it's sitting on blocks. Your mileage may vary.

You want one? Check Craigslist to get a feel for what's out there. Notice how many ads feature "extra spare parts."

They ain't cheap. But any big city probably has a reputable VW restoration shop. Expect to pay anywhere from $9,000 to $16,000 or more. If you’re lucky. Go for a Subaru engine with a matched transmission.

Most are stick shift but you can find automatic transmissions -- both go from zero to 60 in eleven minutes flat.

Buy a gun and get a concealed carry license. You'll wish you had one even at the best camping sites. And I hate guns.

The main thing is to have fun looking. Don't buy the first one you see although you will be tempted. Take your time. There are Westphalia sites online, clubs, vacation exchanges with Europeans, a whole culture built up around a fun little bread loaf.

And every damn one of them has a name! That says a lot.

If I ever get a Westy, mine will have a last name, too. I’ll name her Sylvia Plath.


The South Plainsman said...

Used to be that driving one of those was an automatic arrest and search in Texas. LOL

Ken Martin said...

Cute, George. I bought a brand new VW bus in 1973 and loved sitting up high enough about the New York traffic to see why I wasn't going anywhere.

What wasn't to love was driving cross-country from NYC to Texas while fighting crosswinds that push that slab-sided bus all over the highway. I had the world's sorest shoulders and back from wrestling the wind all day.

It was great taking an entire scout group camping, but climbing the Catskills at a maximum of 45mph wouldn't keep up with the traffic. So we just kept the troop singing "Jermimiah Was a Bullfrog" and enjoyed the ride.

Laura Burns said...

We had a VW camper van. It caught on fire while John was driving it. He barely escaped. If there had been propane in the stove, he would not have.

Anonymous said...

Geez, once in a moment of weakness,I purchased VW bus. I thought it would be a great place to stick for my five and six year old children, to get them out of the back seat of my VW beetle to stop them from kicking the rear of the drivers' seat and never hearing the phrase again "are we there yet?" Well, the heater didn't work in my wonderful new VW bus! "Are we there yet?" was replaced by "Why did you buy this piece of junk? We're freezing!" My wife said some very un-Christian things to me and suggested I do some anatomically impossible acts upon myself. The straw that broke camel's occurred on 29th street in Austin. It was a very frosty, in fact it was a down right cold Sunday morning! Wise people had removed monkeys from their front lawns Every hippy mechanic in Austin was still stoned or getting stoned, it was Sunday morning coming down you realize.
I hitch-hiked back to Ft. Worth to get another car, and with reasonable luck allow a joyous re-relatonship with my family when I got back to Austin. I got a ride! I related my tale of woe to the gentleman who picked me up along side Interstate 35. We rode to West, Texas, without saying much when he finally asked me, "Why did you buy that piece of crap?" I had no answer other than to tell him I named my VW bus "Hitler's Revenge". A friend of mine owned one and it was christened "The Nazi Footlocker" George, anybody who owns a VW bus of any type deserves it!

Jeff Hebert said...

Love this one, George! I hope your vanadreams come true soon.

Laura Burns said...

P.S. The firetrap was a Westphalia. We did not name it.

Tim O'Keefe said...

I know this sounds trite, like a country song or something, but I stole my first kiss from my first real girlfriend in the back of my friend Billy's VW van. We were listening to Neil Young's Harvest album on the 8 track. Spring 1974. He bought that old rust bucket for $100 and drove it until the wheels literally fell off. Well, one of the wheels fell off. With no warning.

Rejoice with the wife of thy youth! Buy the van!

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