A VW weekend – Catching the Bug.

Moderation? I certainly don’t know the meaning of the word. That’s probably how I ended up at three VW shows at the same day, and I’m very glad I did!

Spending time in Southern California, I’ve often spoken of the extensive car culture and a great deal of that can be attributed to the VAG scene. Like any other subset of car enthusiasts, the scene is broken up into different niches and groups. A good example is the tuner scene, which focuses on VW Golfs and Audi wagons.

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However, like its Stuttgart cousin, VWs have a very rich aircooled history. Bugs, Buses, wagons, beach buggies and everything in between fall under this very category. I’ve heard about shows taking place and have seen these aircooled machines on the road, but had never been to a show.

Until now.

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently with a good friend, Lucas Blanchard, who eats, sleeps and dreams aircooled VWs. His family is in the business too, and the fleet holds a Single Cab, multiple Beetles and a couple Notchbacks. So, when he invited me to spend a day with him, attending a couple of local VW events, it didn’t take me long to say yes.

The first show was being held at Old World in Huntington Beach. A small area modeled to look like a quaint West European village, it was the perfect location for a show of this kind.

Wandering through the narrow lanes, I was spellbound by the sheer number and diversity of the cars there. A variety of different colors, options, body styles, modifications and personalizations were on display, and that wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg.

I was fortunate to have Lucas with me, as he patiently explained all the little details that were particular to certain model years. It was truly fascinating, and I marveled at the level of technological advancement that Volkswagen included in their “People’s car”, all the way back in the 195os.

The same theme carried over into the next two shows we attended: OCTO in Long Beach and an Open House at ISP in Torrance. The sheer diversity repeatedly drove home the fact that VW was in the business of helping to move people from one place to another. With the passage of time, that mindset has helped to foster and sustain a culture that is as widespread as it is distinct. Throw in a good helping of the sunsoaked SoCal lifestyle and it creates a movement that simply cannot be replicated.

In addition to meeting a number of people from this movement, I received an education of sorts that day. Regardless of the car, bus or truck that you buy with the VW logo, they are all blank canvases.

Perhaps the best example is Lucas himself, who drives an early ’60s Beetle, with a watercooled Subaru 2.0 litre stuffed in the back. It doesn’t matter what motor it has, instead I choose to appreciate the fact that Lucas has made the car truly his own. He also uses it as a daily driver, which gives him serious points in my book.

As I headed home at the end of a longish day, I couldn’t help but smile. I had well and truly caught the VW bug, and wanted a Bug of my own. Sure, three shows in one day will do that to you, but as the days pass, my lust for a “People’s Car” of my own does not seem to be waning.

Time to spend some time on Craigslist then …

A big thank you to Lucas and his parents for inviting me to spend the day with them. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to experience aircooled VW culture and learn about the nuances associated with the different platforms.

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