The Failures

Not Herbie – The VW Beetles

Because I thought I was a hippy, or something. No, actually, it was cheap and near my house…

Yes, Beetles, plural. I enjoyed simultaneous Beetle ownership, such a glutton for punishment was I at that time. However, before we get to the cars in question, allow me to illustrate two things.

This is a ‘Cal-look’ Beetle…

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…while this, on the other hand, is an idiot…

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…also known as me. The two clearly don’t mix, though I didn’t know that at the time. I was just excited to own an example of Hitler’s finest commission. Sticking to my ever more rigid modus operandi, I ignored the rust, I ignore the fact it didn’t run particularly well and ignored any form of common sense that the little voice in my brain may have shouted.

I’d never had a beetle before, I’d always wanted one and this particular slice of laid-up-for-four-years automotive detritus was located mere seconds from my house. Oh, and it was £400. Winner.

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Accurate reconstruction of me bringing it home

It hadn’t been on my drive for more then ten minutes before my neighbour, Frank, came sniffing around. Would this be the fastest turn around in my car owning history? Did Frank really see some worth in my new car? No, not quite. He had one himself that his son used to drive, £50 and a handshake later, it was also mine. The purchase meant I had a ’72 and a ’73, and from the two I would build the ultimate Bug in which I could rule summer, much like this…

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Or not, actually. As the £50 donor car was good enough to SNAP IN HALF when deposited on my driveway. It was a wee bit rusty. And it was full of spiders. I don’t like spiders.

So, true to form, I stared at it a bit. I removed some glass, the steering wheel and then the wheels (for no reason at all). Once done, me and my chums hit it with hammers a bit, spray painted lewd words and images on it and left it on the driveway much to the delight of my middle class neighbours.

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Luckily for them, it was soon removed by the scrap man, leaving me to focus on the ’73. Again, due to having all the technical prowess of a toddler, I simply took things off it and looked at them for a bit before putting them back on. Thanks to it willing to bark into life, I also drove it up and down the drive, too. Oh what fun.

It’s worth noting that by this point, I had passed my test. I just didn’t have a car, or at least a car that could drive on the road without ending up on Police, Camera, Action. Working on the basis that the Beetle started, made some sort of effort to stop from time to time and also had a semi-functional electrical system, I decided to MOT it. My naive brain thought it would pass. The MOT tester, however, thought otherwise. This was delicately demonstrated by his triple decibel laughter and much prodding of a screwdriver through presumably structurally important areas of the car.

With a heavy heart, it looked like its fate had been decided.

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Before I was given the chance to feel too sad, an opportunity rose in the form of my best mate, Paul, and a chap he worked with. He seemed keen on the car, he also seemed to know what he was on about. Glad to be shot of if, we struck up a deal (at a loss to myself, shocker) and we arranged a day for collection. Happy days, job jobbed, let’s move on to the next car.

Or not.

Remember that charming little animated .gif of myself dancing like chicken? The one I used to symbolise the fact I’m (or was) an idiot? Well, that’s because I let the car go BEFORE getting any form of payment. Yeah, I know, IDIOT. I was too trusting. The guy worked with my best mate so how could he possibly hide… he stopped working there without notice. Ah. Right.

I made some idle attempts to track him down, but it was all futile. The boys in blue weren’t particularly helpful either. But this was Manchester, so their priority was to investigate stabbings and muggings and so on. Not shagged Beetles which had left a stupid 17 year-old out of pocket.

Gutted though I may have been, there came a silver lining to my metaphorical motoring cloud. It was yellow, it was called The Womble (the reg was A530WOM) and it was a Mini. A taxed, MOT’d, ready-for-the-road Mini bought from a dubious lady on a dubious trading estate.

What could possibly go wrong?

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