Friday, June 17, 2011

...and then there was the Vanagon

I guess it makes sense that I ramp up this blog by telling you about each of my cars. I think the how, where, when, and whys of each will give you some insight into who I am and where I'm going with this. Once I'm up to speed on this, I'll focus on more in-the-moment items.

But, I digress (a bad habit I'm trying to kick). As I mentioned in a previous post, I'd always been fond of the VW vans my parents had. When I was very young, they had a yellow 1973 bay window bus, which they sold in 1985 when they got a brand new Vanagon. Some of my most vivid memories from growing up involve the family taking road trips in the Vanagon. They eventually traded up to a 1989 Vanagon (which, incidentally, is still and the family and pulls delivery truck duty on behalf of my father's business) which took us on even more trips.

The Mercedes 240D followed me off to college. Shortly after graduation I got it in my head that I wouldn't mind a Vanagon of my own, to use as backup transportation, for taking weekend road trips and for camping. It wasn't a serious thought, but I decided to keep an eye out and asked my parents to keep an eye out, also. Not long after that, I more or less forgot about it, until...

One day my father tells me he'd met an older couple in a parking lot where driving a very well-kept Vanagon (original owners). He asked if they were looking to sell. They said no, but maybe in a year or so they might. My father gave the Vanagon owners my contact information and left it at that. He told me the van was silver, but other than it being in very good condition, he didn't know much about it.

Around a year and a half later (May, 2003), I got a phone call from the van's owners, asking if I was interested in buying it. Even though I hadn't seen it in person yet, I told them I was interested and wanted to check it out. A few days later, I went with my father to check it out. It was a bit rougher than he'd remembered it. It was in need of a wash and wax, most of the interior had been removed, it had a large dent and a mangled bumper, and it ran roughly and loudly. The test drive was somewhat interesting, as I didn't know how to drive stick shift very well at that point. I think I put a bit of a scare into the seller.

Seeing as how the van was rougher than he imagined, my father advised against me buying it, but told me the decision was mine. I thought about it and decided to pull the trigger. Money exchanged hands, and the seller started loading the van up with parts. The missing interior had been removed back in 1991 when the van was new, and had been kept in showroom condition. All the necessary nuts and bolts had been bagged and tagged.

(right after purchase)

I spent that first weekend putting the interior back together and the rest of the summer doing various repairs - mechanical and body, on the van. Since I had no training, and only a shop manual, I decided it would be a good idea to make some friends who knew something about working on Volkswagens. I searched the internet, and happened upon the website for a local VW club. I joined up, and made some friends I'm still close with to this day.

Eventually, the van followed me up to Massachusetts along with the 240D. Although the van has its moments when it's a bit fussy, I still have it to this day and am planning on keeping it for the long haul.

(camping at Westies in the Woods)

(clean and shiny)

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