Why would you do that?
This was the statement I heard from my father when he asked me why I would spend money on a 1971 Volkswagen Convertible. The answer was simple:Why wouldn’t I?
I grew up with the post-Great Depression second-generation influence from my father. He was constantly focused on teaching us about the need to save money. Like most rebellious children (which I use loosely as I continue this process in my late 30s), I would rather spend what I have now for fun and joy and work hard to recover later. (By the way, not the best role model here, but being honest.)
My father did a wonderful job trying to instill the value of being frugal almost to the point of fault. I still feel guilty buying clothes – I’m working on it.
So after such conditioning and upbringing, why buy such an impractical vehicle? It leaks oil. There are few mechanics that will touch it in the area. I don’t know much about cars. I don’t have much money. I have nowhere to store it. Above all – I live in Green Bay, Wisconsin where it is cold for about 8 months of the year, many of those months also covered in snow. So why purchase the vehicle?
My wife has wanted a classic VW convertible for most of her life. She told me about this dream the first week I met her. So when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it.
I spoke with a man named Mel about a car he posted on Craigslist. We agreed to meet. My family and I previously saw a yellow, late-1970s model at a nearby restaurant. Oddly enough, the day I was scheduled to check out the car was the same day my son tried playing hooky from school. I decided to make a memory. Elliot and I got into the car as he initially thought I was driving him to school. I said we needed to take a little trip first. His response, “Are we going to check out a bug?” Intuitive little guy. Must get it from his parents.
We drove to a farm off the highway about 30 minutes away. I recognized Mel but couldn’t place him. I told Elliot before we got out of the car that he was my good luck charm. He had to be polite and introduce himself with a firm handshake. As I was greeting Mel I realized he was my wife’s old soccer coach who started the soccer club in which my wife, kids, and various other relatives are engulfed. Elliot proceeded to introduce himself. Mel was taken aback. He said, “Elliot, I think you are going to like this car.” As we entered the barn and watched Mell pull back the cover we realized the beautiful car in front of us held a name-tag that read “Elliot.”
Same spelling of the name on the license of the car that obviously was meant for my family. Elliot turned to me and said, “Dad, we obviously have to buy this car.”
Shortly after buying the car, I remember looking at old photographs at my in-laws home and coming across a photograph of my father-in-law (“Doc”) taken in the late 60s. My mother-in-law purchased a 1950s ragtop VW as the first vehicle that they shared together. I realized when I saw this picture that I had replicated the same pattern in our lives. It meant even more to me.
My wife, kids, and I love cruising in the bug. We smile as we go and most people smile or give gestures of approval as we pass by. The joy that we have from the experience is worth every penny. Sometimes it’s not being “impractical” for us.
Sometimes it may be impractical for others but it fits us perfectly. My father and I are alike in many ways. For that I am grateful. Yet, I know who I am and that is a hopeless romantic.
Why would I buy this car? As you can see, why wouldn’t I?
That is seriously awesome! Divine intervention!