Ve-Dub Nuts ahoy!

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By Robert Harland

Motoring

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


OWNERS of older Volkswagens, especially the iconic Beetle, are a friendly bunch. Even as a child in the 1950s in England, I recall when driving with a friend's father in his Beetle, other Beetle driver would flash a friendly headlamp as if to say “hello brother.”

I suppose it's because the Beetle is such a classic car that it deserves more attention than most others. And I've found many owners tend to be real characters.

The Beetle is indeed an unusual car with tons of character. Can you think of any other car that has changed little in design in 75 years and more than 25 million have been produced?

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VW fans are often called 'Vee-Dub Nuts.' As I've owned three Beetles in my driving career (1964-present), I suppose I can be classed as one. The term comes from Vee Dub as in VW. As for 'nuts', I suppose most VW owners regard themselves as a little bit nutty.

Given the love and affection Beetle owners bestow on their beloved cars it comes as no surprise there are thousands of VW clubs throughout the world including here in Bacolod where the Volkswagen Owners' Club of Negros has been around for some 10 years.

The club has around 30 active members and the VWs include the legendary Beetle, the much sought-after Kombi and the newer Brasilia.

Members meet every Saturday at the Baywalk. Apart from fellowship and swapping VW stories, members also hold 'bug runs' and parades such as one this week in Victorias to celebrate the city's charter day.

The original VW Beetle was commissioned by the German dictator Adolf Hitler in 1934. Hitler wanted a small four-seater car, with an air cooled and durable engine that would get 40 miles to the gallon, and could be bought for less than 1,000 Marks (P11,150). In other words he wanted a people's car - a volks wagen.

Hitler asked prominent car designer Ferdinand Porsche to design and build the car to his exacting standards. It took Porsche and his team until 1938 to finalize the design.

After the war the VW factory and car were saved by Major Ivan Hirst, a British army officer and engineer. Hirst had witnessed first-hand the sheer quality of VW-based military vehicles during the war and believed that, once in production, a peacetime Beetle would have an appeal well beyond Germany. And he was right.

From the 1950s the Beetle had a new glossy paint job and a swankier interior and it soon became a best-seller in Germany. Due to its reliability and popularity and supported by some clever advertising, the VW Beetle quickly became a familiar sight on roads throughout the world. Mexico was the last country to make the original Beetle. Production ceased in 2003.

Today in the Philippines, one can become a Vee-Dub Nut for the modest outlay of around P150,000, which, say local club members, get you a decent 1960s Beetle, preferably one made in Germany rather than in Mexico or Brazil. The much rarer Kombi will set you back around P230,000 plus.

But there are some very rare models that fetch much higher prices, in particular, the Beetle convertible. There's currently one on sale in Manila for the princely sum of P 1 million.

The original Beetle may be dead, but long may it live!

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 19, 2014.

Lifestyle

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