Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Seen On The Road...

Somewhere on the NJ Turnpike, we came across this old "people's car":


VW Type III. Vintage unknown, but the model was only made from '61 to '73, so it's almost certainly older than I am...

There's an interesting family story with the VW. Mom G. desperately wanted a VW Bug in the '60s. She inherited her stature from her mother (she claims 5' 2" but I think that's standing on something, like a ladder. Just kidding mom!), and the cars of the period were just too large for her liking.

Well, Dad G. was a Mass state trooper, and had apparently seen too many rollover accidents involving the Bug, so he persuaded Mom to get a Saab 99 instead. It was safer, had that newfangled front wheel drive, and (most importantly) Dad was friends with a local Saab dealer that gave him a great deal on a gently used 99.

Mom loved it. Even though it had a two-stroke engine and required adding oil to the gas tank (really! It made filling up the tank somewhat of an ordeal for Mom, because she would tell the attendant to put in "exactly 8 gallons and this quart of oil" to be told, in condescending tones, that "Oil doesn't go in the gas tank, ma'am"...)

Interestingly enough, Dad loved it, too. He liked it so much, when his Mustang finally rotted out, he replaced it with another 99. He had that little 99 during the Blizzard of '78, when entire highways were shut down because the snow removal equipment couldn't keep up with the storm. Dad finished his shift at the airport, went out to the parking lot, and got the Saab moving through the snow, making it all the way home when everyone else was stranded.

Obviously insanity runs in the family...

That is all.

11 comments:

Miguel said...

That was the uncoolest VW ever built. Kids would cry and beg their parents not to buy it and swear they would eat their veggies and not run away from home as you did not wanted to be seen in that thing ever.

"Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgUaIqRR-D8

Dave H said...

I'll take front wheel drive in the snow any day. I haven't found this AWD Subaru to be particularly helpful.

Tim said...

I had a square back in the Navy in the early 80's, it was great little wagon.. I just wish it had a better heater.

Anonymous said...

Saab 96, most likely.

Curt

Old NFO said...

Soooo... You're saying the acorn DID NOT fall from the tree??? :-)

Jay G said...

Curt,

I believe you are correct. It was *definitely* not a 99. Hey, I was 7 when we got rid of it... ;)

Will said...

My dad did autobody and towing all his life. He claimed the Bug was just about the safest car, ever. In fact, the only bad story he had for one, was the Harley that the centerpunched the passenger door. The bike took out the passenger seat and occupant, and when they removed the bike, it was still rideable. IIRC, the rider bailed before impact.

He brought home the occasional bug for family use, and both of my oldest sisters got bugs from him, after leaving home. Hmm, the next younger got a '65 Ranchero! I think the youngest stepsister got a Fiat Spyder, probably a Turbo model.

Geodkyt said...

My mom had a fastback Type III coupe.

Used to laugh when she'd pass guys in 4WD Jeeps (tires spinning and sliding backwards downhill) on the rare days we actually got snow.

Ed said...

A Jeep CJ-5 on the road would typically be in 2WD, so would be light in the ass end, spinning the rear wheels and sliding sideways. Once you put that JEEP in 4WD, then it became a front wheel drive, with a little assist from the rear wheels. However, you would burn out your transfer case if there was not enough slippage, so you only used your 4WD when it was real sloppy. Spin the wheels fast enough and you can leave rooster-tails of snow from all four wheels without ever touching the pavement.

However, for light snow, a VW bus was great with the higher ground clearance and rear wheel drive. You just need to remember that the ability to move is not the same as the ability to stop. Sometimes it is a big mistake to stop as you will not be able to get going again.

BTW During the Blizzard of '78, I drove from Weymouth to Massachusetts Avenue in Boston and back in a JEEP. The Southeast Expressway was like a post-Apocalyptic movie with the abandoned vehicles. Morrissey Boulevard near the Boston Gas tanks (there were two i=of them then) and Savin Hill was flooded but passable because it had fewer abandoned cars. It was something I had to do and never want to do again.

Geodkyt said...

ed -- I think it helped that Mom learned to ddrive in Minnesota on farm equipment with shitty brakes. {grin}

The Neophyte said...

My wife used to drive her mom's Type III and absolutely loved it.
Blizzard of 78 brings back a lot of memories for me. I was a senior in HS in Rhode Island. My mom was stranded at work and my dad got into his humongous 73 Buick Estate wagon with the 455 ci engine and drove there and back to get her, never getting stuck. He was a maniac but could he drive in snow. City of Providence was closed down for an entire week while they dug out of it. Thousands of people were stranded and had to leave their cars on the highways and find shelter during the storm but my old man just blasted through everything with that beastmobile.