An air-cooled VW fan club is always an enthusiastic collection of car guys and girls who have a deep connection with the lovable first-gen Bug and its interesting siblings from a bygone era in Volkswagen history.
This year’s show took place in Red Deer, Alberta Canada, a community of about 100,000 people that is situated about half-way between Alberta’s largest (million-plus people apiece) cities of Edmonton and Calgary. Therefore, it makes sense for Alberta’s Beetle people to meet in Red Deer.
I have touched on the topic of air-cooled VWs numerous times over the past 12 years here at MyStarCollectorCar because I had hands-on experience as a teenaged owner of a VW bus, as well as a high school incident when I rolled my brother’s Bug. My incident was a careless moment when over-driving a Beetle led to one of the slowest rollovers in recorded history.
The only thing injured in the rollover was my pride and the roof of the Beetle after I lost control of the car on a dirt road, hit the ditch, and learned the hard way about why Ralph Nader was so upset with independent rear suspensions after my steering over-correction put the Bug at an extremely steep angle out of the ditch. Result? A very predictable rollover for boneheads.
We pushed the Bug back on its wheels and drove back to town. It ran like a top, but the car’s potential as a high school driving machine was over for good.
A little over a year later, I became the proud owner of a 1961 VW microbus with few redeeming features and even less power than the rollover Bug. However, my early experiences with the famous air-cooled VW vehicles cemented my interest in them forever, and now a vintage VW meet will capture my interest in a big way.
The first vehicle I noticed at the Red Deer show was a 1962 VW Type II bus, not because it was roughly the same age as my own long-lost bus, but because it had a generous collection of bug splats on its windshield. My old Volkswagen van would only have bug splats if they were shot out of a cannon directly at my windshield-but this VW bus earned every untimely insect death at high speed.
The bus had obviously undergone a few upgrades to reach warp speed on a highway and MyStarCollectorCar will be happy to reveal the 1962 VW Type II’s secrets at a future date. We spotted another VW bus with this funny apology sticker in a rear window, but this ’62 version had a serious power upgrade, so its owner had no need to apologize to other drivers on highways.
Read how and why in a future MyStarCollectorCar article.
The other star at the VW show was a 1974 VW Thing (aka VW 181), an unconventional addition to the air-cooled Volkswagen family that was banned from North American highways after the aforementioned Ralph Nader took dead aim at it.
I wrote about the Thing for an upcoming MSCC article and explained why they are not common at car shows in general (mostly because they got on Nader’s bad side), so I was pleasantly surprised to find a female owner of this 1974 VW Thing at the Red Deer show.
The ’74 Thing’s full story will be the subject of a future MyStarCollectorCar article, so stay tuned for that one.
BY: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.