I'd passed my driving test back in England about 5 years previously but I hadn't driven a car since then. I now found myself on a test drive, in the car of my dreams, trying to remember what all the pedals do, what side of the road I should be on, what did "priority a driot" actually mean and where do they put the stop lights ? The lady who owned the car was quite cool and calmly pointed out that the little red christmas lights hanging above the roads meant stop. I think she'd guessed I was winging it on the roads. I was even stopped by the police while on my test drive! - not a good sign.
I went everywhere in that car, to work, trips to Germany, France and Belgium. In the summer time, with the top down, life was great. In winter time when the temprature dropped to -30 C (at worst) it was a touch basic and quite diffcult to get into gear (I think the gear box oil was frozen). Finally after a year I drove back to England with the car still in pristine condition.
Within 3 days I'd driven the car through a tree. The whole thing looked a complete right off, a mess. I put the wreckage away in a lockup not far from my mothers place in Leicester. Closing the door on the car I figured I'd finish my degree, get some money and a garage in London and then fix up the old girl.
It stayed in the lockup for 14 years. I didn't even visit it - it just depressed me to even think about it. Eventually circumstances changed and I found a guy who'd repair the car for a reasonable cost. We went back to Leicester to put it on a trailer but when we arrived I was faced with 50 lockups all looking identical. In the end it turned out to be quite easy to find - it was the only one without tripple locks holding the doors closed. Consequently the little lock I'd placed on the door had been broken open. I opened the doors thinking what if it had been stolen for spares, set alight etc etc but there it was. We managed to get it back to London where he changed the oil and battery and it started first time - it sounded rough though but not bad after 14 years ! I payed the guy 50% up front and left him to work on the car.
Two weeks later the guy had dissappeared and I mean totally dissappeared. His garage workshop was boarded up, no one answered the telephone or the mobile. I thought perhaps he'd gone on holiday - but two weeks passed and nothing. I knew I hadn't waited 14 years to end up loosing the car like this. I started looking through old advertisements and contacting VW magazines - I was finally given a new telephone number - for his ex wife - and through her I contacted his parents who didn't sound to surprised by my tale. Luckily they were a little more moral than he was and they payed the money back and found out where the car was.
This time I used beetle mania in Mill hill. They were bigger, more expensive (much more) but seemed more likely to get the job done. A couple of months later and far lighter in the wallet she was ready to drive back accross London. It seemed strange to be driving my first car after so long, she looked brand new from the outside but still felt like 30 years old when driving allong in modern trafic.
We made it all the way home without insident, though I did ask my friend Joe to follow in his car! The car now sits in the corner of my garage and really only ever goes out to tennis on Sundays and then only if the sun's shining but mostly I just look at it and smile