The Tale of Two Beetles - What Do You Reckon 450

By: Glenn Torrens

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Glenn Torrens shares the tales of two Beetles and the absolute power of choice

Some time ago, I wrote about parents stashing an old car in their garage for their kids. These people’s hope is that in 10 or 15 years their kids will suddenly think that a shit-heap in a shed is the coolest thing in the whole world.


I reckon a better idea is to keep the car (obviously a favourite of the parents for whatever reason) on the road for sunny Sunday cruising. Creating happy family memories by cruising for ice-creams in Mummy & Daddy’s Cool Car is far more likely to keep the family car hobby alive than expecting a moody teenager to suddenly fall in love with something that’s been a blob under a blanket since they were in nappies.

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Anyhow, a pic of a VW Beetle on Facebook recently has clicked me into thinking about a similar conundrum. Under the ‘For Sale’ pics of a bright yellow 1970s Bug were the words of a parent: "Was purchased for my daughter as her first car but she decided a Suzuki Swift was more her style…"

Being a For Sale ad, there were a few people asking about the car. But there were a few people, also, mentioning how ‘silly’ and ‘ungrateful’ the daughter was for not wanting to drive the Bug.

But was this daughter really being ungrateful or silly? Or was it more a case of mum ‘n dad being off-beam?

It’s likely the idea of Miss P-Plate driving a quirky old car built 40 years before she was born was ‘suggested’ by the parents who - like me and many others - probably had Bugs themselves as kids. However, Miss P-plate would have most likely spent the past decade being driven to school and Saturday sport in a flotilla of cars created sometime this century so driving a rattly old Bug (even if it is a gift) with no more features than a single 12V power socket would be about as cool as having mum and dad choose her clothes.

In total contrast is my mate Colin’s daughter Kari. Kari pestered her parents for – and the car and its colour is a very handy co-incidence for my ramblings this issue! – a yellow Beetle. For years, Col and I raced our Bugs together so he is, like me, a VW nutter. For Kari, growing up in a home with pictures of Dad’s fast modified Bugs on the loungeroom wall obviously had an influence.

But did millennial Kari want a rattly slow old dak-dak from the 1960s or 70s? Nope… she wanted a later-model New Beetle, VW’s retro-cool, this-century machine that blended the style of the cars in the pictures on the walls at home with modern VW Golf ability, air-bags and air-conditioning.

Sure enough, we found her a tidy one in that terrific yellow colour she wanted and for five years - all through her time at university and now into her fledgling career with the NSW Government – Kari has driven that happy yellow New Beetle between her country-town home and The Big Smoke plenty of times.

She chose it. It’s her car. She wanted it… Not her parents.


From Unique Cars #450, March 2021

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