When I was a wee lad I’d sit on the front stoop, look down the hill to the busy major artery below, and watch the cars go by. I’d watch for the Impalas and Furys, Novas and Fairlanes, Mustangs and Camaros. But I especially watched for the Volkswagens.
In those early-1970s days, when you said Volkswagen, everyone knew you meant the Beetle. I sure wished my family had one, because they were the coolest little cars.
As I got older, I wished we had a Mustang. Then later I wished we had a Renault Fuego, but those turned out to be wildly unreliable and I’m glad my wish didn’t come true.
As an adult, I really wanted a Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia. I came close to owning a cherry one, but it was a cash deal and I couldn’t pull together the scratch. Then it was a Corrado, Volkswagen’s sporty hatchback of the 90s. I test-drove a brand-new one, and it was fun, but I passed because one couldn’t be found with a manual transmission. I regret not going with the automatic now, as I could have afforded that car.
Then it was a Chevrolet Impala SS, the go-fast version of the last full-size, rear-wheel-drive, body-on-frame Chevrolet. Later I dreamed of owning an old Ford Pinto, believe it or not — I had one for a while after I learned to drive and I guess I was just nostalgic. And then I caught the Ford Ranger bug. I still feel drawn to them when i see one on the road in good condition.
But now I’ve come full circle and dream of owning an old Beetle again. I sometimes look for them on Craigslist or Cars.com or eBay. I’d like a later one, from the 1970s, and I’d like it to have been restored. It’s shocking that they go for no less than 10 grand now, and 20 grand isn’t out of the question. But 45 years after the last new Beetle was sold in the US, a car that was considered disposable in its day, I suppose it’s not so surprising that the ones that remain command a premium.
I don’t know if I’ll ever pull the trigger on any classic. My inner skinflint always holds me back. I don’t know where I’d park another car, anyway. But it’s fun to dream. I’ll probably always have some car as an object of my desire.