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Thread: The Westy my family built.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    63

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    I decided to restore yet another VW. This time a beautifully painted '76 Westfalia. Original chrome-yellow color, but had to break up the monotony with two-tone (pure white top 1/2). Plus, I converted it to a deluxe w/stove and fridge.

    Having a large and tight-knit family, I have made it a point to ask everyone to contribute to the cause, particularly my elderly relatives. Sounds odd huh?

    I decided to name her Rosie, after my great-grandmother, who never never lacked a smile. When that bright yellow bus rolled out of the paintshop -- it's glorious glow reminded me of Rose's constant grin and happy nature. There could have been no other fitting name.

    I asked my elderly Aunts sew drapes, my grandmother made matching Afghans for that funky plaid, mother sewed the newly washed and refoamed cushions. The list goes on....
    (don't worry this will tie together)

    Laughter: the NAMES. I guess I never had any hippies in my family, and they simply don't know what to make of this thing.

    Thus, I have received so many: (I'll save the generic ones, and list the one's I found humorous)

    HOW IS:

    - The bugvan?
    - The beetle-wagon?
    - The "VM" or "VMW"?
    - The trailer ( a personal favorite )?
    - The delivery van?

    You have to love 'em. By no means are they lacking in intelligence, just used to cars with cranks.

    And of course --- the JOKERS, who now see my Westy in awe, and not only have the jokes subdued; the borrowing requests for that "fishing trip" are starting to roll in.

    Some excerpts for which I had to deal:

    - "The world's first vehicle that blows all the leaves off my driveway".

    - "Rolling Thunder"
    - "The Black forest meets the Brady Bunch"
    - "My stump-puller with napping quarters"
    - "AAA's worst nightmare"
    - "A condo for Jerry Springer guests"
    - "How do you drive all that furniture up a
    hill with a garden tractor motor?"
    - "Does it come with an optional tow-truck?"
    - "Do you need a permit to drive that street cleaner?"
    - "If you plan to tow a boat up a mountain with the A/C on full blast...let me know so I can first call America's Funniest Videos"

    All in good humor...now they are mentioning to me when they spot one on the road! Oh how the tides have changed. "I saw a green one with the top that pops up on the NJ Turnpike...." is not an uncommon thing to hear.

    Not very often do you hear folks saying "I saw a '76 Dodge Duster (no offense), GOLD EDITION last week..." No more abuse for Rosie.

    I would often request parts as gifts, and gave relatives the part number and an 800# to call. Yes, there are several 90 year old women out there still receiving Rocky Mountain Catalogs.

    The best part of this whole journey is that my family will have each weaved a tapestry of thier lives, no matter how small into this Westy - and many parts, contributions, and comments will accompany me on my journeys.

    Although, I don't see my grandparents Agnes and Dorothy, arguing over why #3 is running hot;

    it is doubtful my mother will ever call to verify my ignition timing prior to a long trip...

    what I will have is a small piece of thier love and giving for which to look at and smile; and of course, a hidden picture of Rose nestled safe and warm between the side panel - - my faithful navigator from above.

    This Bus is for you Grandma - 96 years on this earth, and 20 for me was one heck of a ride together!

    76heatwagen
    Ron Wolff
    '76 Westy
    '78 SB Conv
    '74 SB Auto-stick

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Raleigh, NC USA
    Posts
    3,806

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    Sometimes we forget where the car placed in our family's heritage. How many memories are tied to the car, and what we did in it.

    I restored my '50 Ford truck because I wanted to duplicate Grandpa's last Rural Route mail truck. I was 5 when he got it and it's really the first of his cars I remember. But I so fondly remember sitting in the front between them -- dodging the floor gearshift liver, while we headed to Devil's Lake park or dinner at the Chicken Shack. The Chicken Shack was something special. Col. Sanders couldn't make bus-boy there. But it always ended up being a family gathering and we'd eat in one of the many gazebos scattered amongs fish ponds, paths and gardens.

    50 years later, when I took it to WI to the nursing home for his daughter to see it, her reaction (First was "Dad's was never that clean!") and the memories were something special.

    Last Saturday (4/27/02) I entered Mom's old VW Bug it in the AACA show here at home. She drove it from new for 301 years. It's not show ready by a long shot but I fixed a dinged engine lid and entered it with a "Do Not Judge" note on the windshield. It would get the Participant Trophy, which I give to Mom to hang in her living room. I notice it's prominent on the wall and my picture is stuck behind a stack of VCR tapes -- goes to show where I fit in the scheme of things.

    But she came to the show to see "her baby." And had to take a couple of friends down to see it. When she was there, she was quick to tell the entrants of the cars all around that was "Her car" and all the years she drove it. For a little while she was young again and zipping that little Bug around Raleigh. Before back to the Hurculean task of taking car of my handicapped dad.

    I'll do a ground-up show restoration on the little Bug -- for her.

    Next time you're browsing through the family album, notice how many pictures are with a car and going places in it. I know when I'm in the Rocking Chair, I'll be looking back at my cars and the huge albums of the camping trips in the Westies will be a big part of those memories.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Newport News, VA
    Posts
    6

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    Well, Captain Mike, I am now retired. 40 years with the Department of Defense and 28 September 2001 was the end. I haven't decided what I will do when I "grow up", but the Westy will figure in it. I had wanted one for donkey's years, and bought it in Heidelberg, Germany (a one-owner, California 84 Water cooled Westy that had been sitting so long in a junk yard in Germany that a tree had grown through it's rear bumper." The Army shipped it home for me and we have been working on it ever since. Last project was a new clutch. So, I should have not "ridden" it. But, now with mostly new parts, it is about time to do the outside restoration. Then to settle down to enjoy it. I have to get a new parts manual, as I need the canopy, the sky dome, and the inside to the sliding door. The work goes on. I love the Westy though. It is pure pleasure to drive around in. Extra is that I can put anything in it that I want or need to move around. Soup to Nuts. Great to talk to you. Glad to hear you are home from adventures. Hope you have a great weekend. Judith Forrest, soon to be Littleton, NC, but currently Newport News, VA.

    Judith Forrest
    PO Box 51249
    Fort Monroe, VA 23651
    Judith Forrest
    PO Box 51249
    Fort Monroe, VA 23651

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Sugar Land
    Posts
    3

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    My early car memories are of loading up in our old VW van for trips into Mexico. Parking it at the bottom of a steep hill and hauling our stuff up to my uncle's cabin in the mountains. Loaded down with 8 children and two canoes.

    Those memories do stick around. I finally realized a long time dream in buying my first Westy, an 84 wolfsburg (middle seat and fridge!) with no rust and a nice complete interior in good shape. PO had all service records back to original dealer window sticker.

    We drove it home 2500 miles through mountain passes 11,500 ft and desert heat 107+. Drove through Arches Nat'l Park and down the million dollar highway in Colorado. It was an impressive introduction to a great vehicle. Along the way my wife and kids named the van Greta. I could see the same spark of adventure my father had lit in me so many years ago.

    Along the way I had to fashion a rear heater bypass from air brake line parts while stranded at a truck stop in west Texas. Got to take my first stab at bleeding the coolant system after reading about it on this site and referring to the Bentley. Got her back on the road after a few hours of fumbling around.

    Now when we jump in the van to run errands I hear my kids talking about the trip and where we will go next. Thanks in advance for the memories Capt Mike and the rest who contribute to this site.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Manchester, MO USA
    Posts
    13

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    I owned a '66 Beetle in high school and wish I had never sold it, but at the time. . . I have always wanted a Westy, but kids and job and such kept me from getting one. My father passed away last spring and my wife suggested I take some of his insurance money to buy a Westy. I found an '80 Vanagon last August and am now in the process of fixing it up. It has a lot of rust, but is mechanically pretty sound. In any event I hope sometime to see some of you as I drive around in the "R.J.Droney Memorial Campmobile".

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    7

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    Hiya Freddray, same here plus throw in a divorce to boot.. Although everyone is amicable and my wife and I still get along. I found my '84 Westy project keeps me focused, it's fun (although many times frustrating [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] ) and productive. We're also learning a heck of alot too, I've actually enrolled in a community college Auto course (part-time Saturdays) and I actually have people asking me for advice about thier vehicles!
    I guess sometimes you have to lose something to gain something..

    Happy Trails..... Maybe I'll see ya sometime next summer I want to get to a few Westy events..

    '84 Westy camper cool baby, cool
    '84 Westy camper cool baby, cool

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