The first time my mom rode in the Bustache, she laughed, “Now THIS is what I remember about VWs.”
“THIS” did not refer to the faint smell of sun-baked plastic or the decidedly 70’s green, orange & brown interior color scheme. It did not refer to the bread-box shape of its body or even the “put-put-put” of the engine.
Nope, what she was referring to was the “production” it took to get us all in the bus and ready to go. You see, the Bustache has a number of “issues” that need to be addressed before he is fit for the road.
Although he has four doors, only one can be unlocked and opened from the outside. Just to get inside Bustache requires you to open the sliding door, shimmy between the two captain seats and unlock the driver-side door (which then, can only be opened from the outside). Then you have to reach over and open the passenger-side door (which, of course, can only be opened from the inside). Once everyone piles in, the seat-belt situation has to be assessed. None of Bustache’s four seat-belts are retractable. So, you have to make sure the person sitting in each seat is appropriately sized to the corresponding belt. This usually takes a bit of trial and error mixed with a fun game of musical chairs.
And the list of “Things to do before Bustache can be driven” goes on:
- Take down the umbrella – Although fixed now, there was a period of time when Bustache had a huge whole in his roof where a sky-light once resided (note to self – Bustache does not fit (nor belong) in a parking garage). When Bustache was in “rest” mode, in an effort keep rain and tree-droppings out, , we popped an umbrella out of the hole and anchored it to the sink. While it mostly did the trick, it was not conducive to “driving” mode.
- Check the oil – The previous owner warned us that Bustache as a small oil leak. Replacing oil on a regular basis is crucial to keeping him from exploding…
- Decide whether this drive requires the radio or the heater – The radio is tapped into the same power source as the heater. We have both a heater and a radio, but only one can be used at a time.
- Put the Cup-Holder back in place – A fun oddity of the ’79 Bus is the detachable cup-holder in front of the passenger’s seat. An awesome addition, but a bit impractical. Evey time the passenger gets in and out of their seat, they have to remove the holder.
- Check to make sure the mustache is secure – We wouldn’t want it flying off in the middle of a 60 mph acceleration!
As you can see, my mother’s exclamation had less to do with the iconic features of the VW Bus than the iconic quirks that makes owning one a such a unique endeavor. It has to do with what we’re willing to put up with in the name of living out our Westfalia fantasy.
But it’s the imperfections that makes each ride an adventure, and it’s the short-falls that make each trip memorable. The doors, the umbrella, the seat-belts and radio – this is the stuff worth remembering.
After all, it’s this philosophy that makes my mom smile as she climbs into a bus for the first time in 35 years, and it’s this reality that Steve and I will reminisce over in the years to come. We hope. :-)