Bug keeps chugging after 600,000 miles | TheUnion.com

Bug keeps chugging after 600,000 miles

The Volkswagen Beetle deserves many accolades: with 21.5 million of them sold until they stopped being produced, VW Beetles, a.k.a. Bugs, hold the record as the best selling cars of all time. Designed to be economical, efficient people-carriers, Bugs have fulfilled their engineered destinies and more.

Ironically, the Bug was conceived by Adolf Hitler in 1930’s Nazi Germany. Hitler wanted an affordable car for German families, and passed the commission on to Ferdinand Porsche, who had proposed such a car to the Nazi government. Although in factory production in 1939, World War II interfered with mass production.

After the war, the company passed through temporary British control, and, by 1946, Volkswagen was producing around 1,000 cars a month.

Bug lovers appreciate the cars for what they are. The rear engine placement over the rear wheel drive axle lets the car be pushed, rather than dragged. The weight shift from front to back changes the handling. The oil cooled engine does away with a radiator and hoses, allowing a smaller, neater engine design for the space in the car. With all of that, Bugs are fun to drive, fuel efficient, and easy to maneuver through traffic.

Beetle owners are loyal. Tim O’Connor is one of them. O’Connor has had his 1967 VW since 1968, the year he graduated from high school. It is still his primary car. He and his Bug commute 80 miles between Alta Sierra and Fair Oaks five days a week, and on top of that, car and driver journey through the greater Sacramento area on a daily basis.

O’Connor puts around 30,000 miles a year on his Bug. If this seems a lot, consider that the Bug has been driven 592,000 miles, more or less.

Consider this. Despite the huge number of VW Bugs produced, they are still accruing in value. O’Connor paid $1,500.00 for his car in 1968. Blue Book today is around $6,200.00, although custom Bugs can bring between $12,000 to $25,000, and up.

The only major body and axle repairs were forced. O’Connor was broadsided in daylight by a hit and run drunken driver three years ago. The crash destroyed the passenger side door and bent the frame and axles. The accident stopped O’Connor; witnesses chased the drunken driver and eventually stopped her. This was reportedly her fourth DUI, and she was 26 years old. Six months in the shop and many dollars later, O’Connor still has his 1967. The cobalt blue paint job and body work earned him a third place in the ’58 to ’67 stock Bug class at the Sacramento Bug O Rama in 2003.

What will O’Connor do if and when his 1967 Volkswagen finally goes to the great junkyard in the sky? He’ll probably try to find another 1967 Bug. That’s driver loyalty.

The Union is looking for restored,

customized or collector’s vehicles. Contact louisec@theunion.com.

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