Volkswagen fans in the San Antonio area love their bugs and buses

Freddie Washington has a saying: Everyone has a bug story.

For the 49-year-old military veteran, this story began in high school about 30 years ago when he bought his first Volkswagen Beetle, an old 72 ‘yellow that was buried in an enlarged backyard. A few years later, Washington exchanged this rusty diamond for its father, who sold it at the time. Washington located the buyer in 2012 and purchased the car back.

These days, Washington continues the story of the iconic car and its silence as a collector and conservationist alike. He still owns what’s left of his first beetle, along with a Volkswagen 65 ‘tow truck, a 72’ Volkswagen bus and another ’72 bug he calls red. He also repairs and restores old Volkswagen cars as owner of Freddy’s Bug Werk’s and club mechanic of Klassisch VDubs, one of nine Volkswagen car clubs in San Antonio.

“The idea behind them is that they are built to run,” Washington said. “And we’re rebuilding them to run so you can continue your story.”

Classic car owners will replace many of these stories at VW Bugs & Brew’s third annual car show on Sunday at Alamo Beer. The event is free for viewers.

Exhibition of Volkswagen Bugs and Brawl vehicles

What: The third annual car show will feature beetles, buses and other classic Volkswagen cars, with five Top Choice awards given to the bunch’s best Volkswagen cars.

Where: Alamo Beer, 202 Lamar Street

When: Sunday at noon, April 24th

Price: Free for viewers. Admission is $ 15 for pre-registration at All registrants before 5pm on Friday will receive a commemorative glass for a full event in the first round of craft beer. Registration on the site is $ 20. Proceeds go to the ThriveWell Cancer Foundation.

More than 70 years after it was first sold in the US, the beetle still occasionally pops up on a Sunday ride or in Tinker’s driveway, a bubble-shaped retreat to the summer of love and simpler times when compact German imports were in full swing. America.

The original Beetle stopped production in 2003, when Volkswagen released the latest model of the classic car at its factory in Puebla, Mexico, with mariacs leading it to sunset. Volkswagen tried to rekindle the love for the original bug with the new Beetle, which introduced in 1998, only to stop the Beetle finally in 2019, again in Puebla and again with a sending from Mariachi.

Classic Volkswagen car enthusiasts have something new to look forward to. identification document. Buzz, a fully electric spin of the classic Volkswagen bus, goes on sale in the US in 2024.

Of course, the original small car casts a big shadow. Volkswagen has sold more than 22 million beetles during the vehicle’s eight decades, making it the best-selling car of all time. It’s also a movie star in good faith: The Rebbe, the anthropomorphic anthropomorphic love bacterium, has appeared in six Disney movies, and in Mumbai, the changing robot from the original 80s Transformers cartoons, got a live-action movie in its own name in 2018.

The mania of a real beetle, of the kind behind the wheel and under the rear hood, goes deep.

“You’m kind of involved in every aspect of it,” said James Oliver, a 60-year-old San Antonio bug and bus enthusiast who is a member of several Volkswagen teams. “You drive with your ears, with your nose. ‘Wait a minute, I smell gas. What’s that weird sound?’ This is a very interactive thing.

“(And when) it’s happy and it’s cruising and the temperature is right … man, there’s just nothing better.”

Beetle fans tend to get the bug for more than just the bug. At the extreme end, there is comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias with the Volkswagen bus collection worth $ 3 million. But most Volkswagen fans, like Washington and Oliver, only own a few spins of that classic beetle that started it all.

And to think that a real smiley face on wheels has such a dark history.

The Beetle began its journey in Nazi Germany when Adolf Hitler ordered what was known as the “People’s Wagon” or “Volkswagen”, a simple mass-produced vehicle that German masses could afford. Béla Barényi, an engineer of Hungarian descent, conceived the original design of the Volkswagen in 1925; Austrian-born engineer Ferdinand Porsche (yes, This Porsche) finished it in 1938.

World War II put a stop to any significant launch of the beetle by the end of the 1940s. Until then, the car’s insect-like appearance earned it the nickname “The Caper,” in German for “Beetle.” The name beetle caught on in Germany and got stuck in a car when it hit the United States in 1949.

Apart from a unique design, the low price and the solid fuel economy of the beetle are what made it a hit throughout the 50s and 60s. But in the early 1970s, sales dropped as automakers shifted gears to front-wheel-drive and water-cooled engines. Production of the mainstream beetles then moved to Brazil and Mexico.

Insects and Volkswagen buses have plagued Mexican roads for decades. Oliver’s wife, Monica, grew up with some bugs in Mexico City, where her father moved the family’s beetle from ’72 so she could take her daughter to a daycare.

“We still have it in Mexico,” said Monica Oliver, now a resource coordinator at the San Antonio Children’s Shelter. “Many memories with the Volkswagens in my family.”

In fact, her family has gone through some classic beetles, including a bug from ’76 that they still share as Lázaro, Spanish for Lazarus, because he is returning from the dead.

That’s the other funny thing about this funny car. Beetle owners tend to spend as much time repairing their insects as they do in transporting them. James Oliver, who has his own car lift and other vehicle repair tools at his home on the South Side, joked that most beetle owners rely on other vehicles to get around.

“I do not depend on them if I have an appointment with a doctor,” he said with a laugh.

But Washington said dealing with a bug is all part of the car’s charm and even longevity. He noted that beetles are much tougher than they look, especially the older air-cooled models that can run in the desert. He even heard of beetle owners who never changed the oil.

“They are bulletproof,” he said. “These are very durable cars. They last forever.”

It seems like some bugs are really hard to kill. | Twitter: @reneguz

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