The joys of classic car ownership

Classic cars. A classic is something beyond old. It has to have some sort of appeal to distinguish it from being just another old heap. I’d like to think I own a classic.

I own what I’d like to believe is the World’s Only Dual Carb, Satellite-Navigated, iPod-Equipped 1974 VW Type 1 Beetle. Definitely the only red one. Or maybe the only red one with factory chrome wheels. I’m 100% sure it’s the only red Dual Carb, Satellite-Navigated, iPod-Equipped 1974 VW Type 1 Beetle with factory chrome wheels which was named Lucy by a four-year-old girl.

Anyway, it’s a toy; a summer car. It’s in very good shape, but not show quality. That’s OK, as I want to be able to drive it to work and do errands. It’s a scream to drive; a 70 MPH go-cart. In typical VW fashion the climate control involves speed. To cool it in the summer, you open the windows and drive faster. To warm it in the winter, you close the windows and drive faster.

As it’s June, I’ve been drivng Lucy a lot lately. Last week I brought her to work, forgetting that I had to go to a class in the morning. It rained, and half way to class the windshield wipers gave up. It made for a long ride home.

Yesterday I took Lucy on some errands without any problems. Until I got home, when the trunk release decided to fail. All of my shopping was in there, of course. After 20 minutes and much cursing, the trunk finally opened.

This morning, we were off to work again. Almost immediately the Generator, Oil, and Brake warning lights began flickering. In unison. Odd.

As an aside, the Generator light in an air-cooled VW should never be ignored. In most cars, if the alternator or generator fails, you can drive for a decent distance using just the electrons in the battery. In fact, you should not stop the engine as it may not restart. However in the VW, the generator also drives the cooling fan. A generator light can mean the cooling fan is also not working, so you must stop immediately and check the belt. If you don’t, you could find out that the engine is overheating when it melts. That would be very bad.

So a quick check determined it was not the generator/fan belt, as I suspected. That wouldn’t cause the lights to flicker together. Onward and forward.

Closer to the Eastern Front, the lights came on again. This time I noticed that the turn signals were no longer working either. This sent me into the trunk (in the front, remember) looking for obvious electrical shorts. None, of course. I drove through a construction site in Witch City, and voila! the probem resolved itself.

There is a fine line between ‘classic’ and ‘heap,’ and it takes a committed owner to stay on the right side of it. These little quirks just add to the charm. I’m looking forward to the commute home.

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