For a while in high school I had one of the most distinctive cars in the student lot. My dad had bought himself a 1973 VW SuperBeetle (the major distinguishing feature that made it Super seemed to be a slightly rounded windshield rather than a flat windscreen). Since he carpooled to work, the car became my de facto school commuter. When people saw the Orange Pumpkin in the lot, they knew I was near. While I don't have any contemporary pictures of that fine automobile, this one from the web is an identical twin, except for the lack of dented fenders.
As a junior, I didn't have the right to park in the paved lot, but instead had to park in the wooded area down by the football stadium. Over the months the flared fenders kept scraping trees and becoming slightly banged up, much to my dad's annoyance. There was as least one fender I had no idea when or how the dent happened. The worst was when I backed into a tree and wrinkled the rather flimsy bumper.
SuperBeetles have some well-known drawbacks. The engine is lightly powered and the heater is laughable. For suburban driving in Florida where the streets are flat, the speed limits all 40 or under and the weather never went below 30, all these problems were moot. Perhaps the only down side to this nearly indestructible car was that the gas gauge didn't work. As a part time employee at SquareBurgerChain, my paychecks were mostly in the $20 to $30 range, meaning a full tank of gas AND a movie ticket were budget busters.
I would lose track of the last time I put gas in and how much, which resulted in the occasional roadside flame out. I became quite adept at getting the fuel system filled and primed again. Now as a nearly useless public service I share that advice:
How To Restart A 1973 Pumpkin Orange VW SuperBeetle That Has Run Out Of Gas Because Of A Faulty Gas Gauge And Negligence On The Part Of A Broke High School Student.
- Beg a ride to a gas station from a classmate or family member. (Remember, cell phones did not exist in 1981.) Buy one gallon of gasoline and dispense into portable slightly rusted gas can.
- Return to shoulder of road where VW has been left. Fill tank with one-half gallon of gas from portable container.
- Gas must make its way to the engine.
- Wait eight hours for gas to siphon through fuel system. OR
- Have fellow student or family member crank starter while liberally splashing gasoline into carburetor. Step back once engine has started.
- Pour remaining gasoline into fuel tank while engine idles.
- Proceed to gas station. Pump five dollars or five gallons of gas, whichever is greater, into car.
- Note odometer reading. Make mental note to buy an additional five dollars of gas within 100 miles.
This is a time-tested proven-effective method perfected over a good half dozen incidents. Fortunately most occurred near the driveway or on local roads with wide shoulders. Eventually my dad sold the bug for a 1972 Pontiac LeMans Grand Prix station wagon for its boat-towing capability, a feature no Beetle I know of had. The station wagon was a sadly faded puke-pea green with peeling faux-wood paneling trim. It was much more practical but far less distinctive.
To this day, when I see an orange classic VW puttering down the road, I sigh nostalgically and hope that somewhere that Bug I drove is still coughing to a start and running out of gas.
BlatantCommentWhoring™: What sort of impractical auto advice can you offer?
Photo Credit: Found the doppleganger to my Bug, as well as many others, here.