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Air Cooled from Cradle to Grave (Eventually, I Suppose)

Matt Frondorf

At age fifty-eight, I am still driving the VW Beetle that I got my drivers license in, back in 1973!

In response to the Arab oil embargo and ensuing gas crisis in 1973, my parents bought a new 1973 Regular Beetle at Demas Volkswagen in Scottsdale, Arizona. My dad drove it to work and I learned to drive in it

When I went to college a couple years later, my parents passed the car down to me, and I've owned it ever since.

Now, forty-two years later, the car is a family member and I am determined to take it all the way to the grave with me.

The amazing thing about my Beetle is its engine. It has 221,000 miles on it and has never been overhauled or opened up. The valves, pistons, rods, bearings, etc. are all still original and running great. My dad always said the workers must have gotten a good raise at the factory the day before they built our car – it is that solid!

I think another contributor to its longevity is that a lot of its miles were done on the highway during the era of the 55 MPH speed limit. Beetles really run smooth at 55 MPH, but I have always felt that 70-75MPH pushes them too hard.

I have tried to keep my car pretty original. I just replace things when they wear out, but that does not happen too often. I have tried to spruce up the appearance now and then, and Mid America has been a great source of wheels, upholstery, chrome, seals, etc. I have been getting a lot of compliments lately on its appearance, even though it is hardly a show car - just a solid driver.

One thing I have learned from people who come up and ask about my car is that every American family, at one time or another, has had an air-cooled VW in it: parents, kids, siblings, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses - there's always been at least one VW in the household at one time or another. The other thing I have learned from these people is that, more times than not, in the haste and poor judgment of youth (and/or poverty), they sold their VW very cheaply years ago and have regretted it ever since. I do not plan to make that mistake!

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