I Found Peace in a 1968 VW Beetle

James May will likely have mixed feelings for me

Since longer than I would like to my weekly routine is basically waking up at 6am, commute 100km to São Paulo for start working at 9am and return to the countryside-ish for classes from 9 to 11 pm. Repeat.

I am not complaining about my job, don’t get me wrong. I know how hard it is to find a good work these days. I am just talking about cars. Simply owning a car in Brazil is already a huge privilege, I’m aware of that. Anyway.

No matter how good my daily driver is – and it is superb – my point is that this is an exhausting routine. Over 1000km every week, around 4 hours a day being a major part of them stuck in the traffic of the largest metropolis of the southern hemisphere giving a ride everyday to share the costs of fuel and tolls is not exactly a Gearhead’s dream drive.

However, there is always the weekend. And for two months now my weekends are filled with a dark-red 1968 Volkswagen Sedan. The Beetle. And in it I have found peace. Unlike my working days, rushing at 120kph on the highways or avoiding bikers in the city my Saturdays and Sundays are in such a different tune it is actually an opposite one.

The Beetle hasn’t got much power (46cv when new), it has no automatic dual-clutch gearbox nor electric steering, it is not equipped with tire pressure alert nor anyone of my workhorse gadgets. And I love that. Every screw of it. I love how he tickles oil and I love the funny sound of the horn.

In fact, the only thing out of the original is the Bosch electronic ignition (not injection, it I still carburated) installed by the previous owner. And I must say, it makes the car even more dependable and easy to use anytime.

Driving this vehicle means to me not being in a hurry. Knowing you will take longer from point A to point B vanishes this kind of driving. I had countless afternoons or nights of simply driving heading nowhere. Just pure Drive Tastefully. Is extremely relaxing. The bzzz sound of the 1300cc VW boxer engine is noisy, the original AM-only stereo doesn’t even have radio stations to listen anymore and tires are impressively narrow. I don’t give a damn about any of that.

So much that the most fun I have ever had in a car was with this very own Beetle in a rainy day. The combo of thin tires + rear engine + rear wheel drive + wet streets can only mean powerslides. At 30kph! That’s safer than riding a bicicle! Drifting a stock Beetle: there is not even enough speed to make it dangerous. (James May must have mixed feelings for me by now)

And I haven’t yet mentioned how the car attracts sympathy from other drivers or how it is cheap to run. My other car’s gearbox computer mechatronic or whatever would have costed me R$18.000 if not insured. But in the Beetle I can replace the engine belt with my shoelace or fix anything with the screwdriver I keep in my glovebox at least until the next corner where there will be a mechanic able to deal with him. Or until the next grocery store where I can buy parts. God I love this simplicity.

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Comments (10)

  • Does your Volkswagen have any lovable quirks? If so let us know what those are in comments! @tribe

      1 year ago
    • Yeah it does, throws you back in and your seat wile the turbo sings to you.

        1 year ago
    • It does! It has windows that are able to close and open while you're out of the car and it is locked. Just press either the lock or unlock key for 5 seconds and the windows go rolling up or down :D

        1 year ago
  • I so much identify with the sheer joy of owning and piloting such a fun little car with so much personality. I'm sure your red VW (or fusca here in Brazil) does cause quite the impression! Cheers

      1 year ago
  • Mine does this funny little thing where the check engine light comes on all the time for no reason.

      1 year ago
    • The red one? Try using a lower gear. In my experience it acts almost like a down-shifting light, carburated cars enjoy a bit more revs

        1 year ago