Wednesday, January 25, 2017

In Hawaii the Perfect Runaround Car

(Hana Hou photo)
I learned to drive on three different cars, a black Chevy, a blue Pontiac, and a white Volkswagen bug. All had manual transmissions, and by far the easiest one to drive was the white VW, which handled like a toy compared to the Chevy (power steering was another luxury accessory I didn't acquire until I was nearly 30).

My bachelor uncle, who didn't drive much, let me use his car. After he died in 1982, relatives fixed and painted the car, which was stolen shortly thereafter. In Hawaii then and now, Volkswagen beetles are prized. [bold added]
There are Volkswagen enthusiasts all over the world, but Hawai‘i’s attachment to the brand is so deep and abiding that the cars have become an inextricable part of local culture. Only in Hawai‘i is VW to classic cars what Spam is to breakfast. If you think about it, there are some striking similarities: Both Volkswagens and Spam are dependable, inexpensive and fundamentally utilitarian. Both are also packed with grease. And while one comes in a shiny can and the other is a shiny can, both have a powerful appeal to local tastes that’s not easy for outsiders to understand.
I will install a security system in Hawaii, however.
On the contrary, the appeal is easy to understand. Pre-1975 VW's don't have catalytic converters or radiators. Maintenance is easily within the skill set of the backyard mechanic. To a young single person who doesn't care about impressing a client or a date (or for safety or air-conditioning), it's the perfect runaround car.

It's one of the few things that I'll take to Hawaii if I ever move back.

No comments: