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.