Denny’s VW

66vwbugsunroof-012Write Fink! has been blogging about old VWs and it conjured up a few memories of — believe it or not — young romance. When I met Denise (she was 17 and I was 18), she had a blue 1966 Volkswagen Beetle much like the one in the photo. Technically, it was Brian, Denise, and Diane’s VW, but when Brian was off to school Denise had seniority and it would eventually be handed down to Diane. My heart still thumps when I think of Denise, long blonde hair blowing through the window, leaning into a turn, cranking the wheel with her left hand, while down-shifting with her right, and depressing the clutch with her Dr. Scholl’s clogs. Phew… I better cool down here.

It had one of those crank sunroofs, which meant that we didn’t need racks for my surfboard — just stuck it out the top! It got good mileage, ran well, and I remember the radio working. However, it did have one particularly annoying flaw. There was some sort of obstruction in the channel which the cables ran through to the engine compartment. It seems once every six months the clutch cable would snap in some inconvenient location: like the middle of a busy intersection, for example. Still, we enjoyed that car very much.

There were other Volkswagens in my life. A guy I worked for had a legendary old bus: white with windows and the Union Jack painted on each side on the small back panel at the back. Then, there was Joe’s bus with problems overheating. His solution? “We’ll just pull the engine.” It seems like we spent a lot of time pushing the bus away from that motor on a jack or whatever was handy that would hold it — until the last time, when the flywheel came off outside of Cloverdale CA. That’s when being a hippie became a real drag.

Joe M (preserving his anonymity) had a “rock buggy” — an original dune buggy. It was a Volkswagen Beetle, chopped, with heavy duty suspension parts and floatation tires on the back. He would sneak it out at age 14 (I was 13), late at night, and we would go forth wreaking havoc (idiots).

Andy had a ’58 bus with no windows and double doors on each side — one side welded shut. It had a dangerously small motor — 1100 =/- CCs, I think. The van was totally beat and had “Moon Unit” spray-painted on the side, as well as spirals on each hubcap. There was a reason behind the junky exterior. The year was 1973 and inside Andy had a state-of-the-art TEAC cassette player, a big amp, and some monster speakers — as well as a comfy mattress. As I recall, we just drove around listening to music real loud.

Denny’s VW was the best!


  1. Donna Sue said:

    Bo, I do believe that VW once belonged to the Punt family. I have great memories of weekends with Aunt Gen and at least 3 or 4 of the 5 kids going to the beach and driving at some point with the sunroof down and standing through it and of course none of us wore seat belts back then. Aunt Inez had a light yellow VW that I have fond memories of zipping around. I love the new VW’s and told my hubby I’d love to trade my BMW in for one.

    June 10, 2006
  2. Toby Roan said:

    What a hoot. I love reading/hearing about various folks and their V-Dubs.

    One of the best things about owning a vintage Volkswagen is you become a magnet for people’s stories of THEIRS cars. I’ve heard some amazing things in grocery and book store parking lots as folks waxed nostalgic while looking at my 74.

    June 10, 2006
  3. Donna Sue said:

    I’m pretty sure that VW says its demise when I think Brian was hit by a drunk driver (ask Den to verify) Brian walked away without a scratch but the poor thing was totalled. And they say Volvo’s are the safest cars? NOT

    June 11, 2006
  4. Bo Salisbury said:

    Yes, Donna, Denise told me that Brian was the eventual recipient. I think Denise bought her Landcruiser and Diane got a Rabbit, leaving the lonely ’66 VW with Brian. Then, it got obliterated.

    Volvos? Safe, perhaps, but my personal experience with three of them would keep me from ever buying one… I’d take one for free, but that’s it… overrated.

    June 11, 2006
  5. Diane Thorne said:

    I took my drivers test in that VW! Then it was us three teenagers (Bri, Den & me) fighting over “sharing” the darn thing. But what a joy it was, especially with the crank sunroof. And driving it to high school — 3 blocks away! (or did Dad veto that?) I believe it was first Aunt Gen’s, then she gave it to cousin Gordon, then he gave it to us. What fun.

    June 16, 2006

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