Beetle Birth

I first saw the New Beetle at the Detroit Auto Show. I was in Detroit on business, took a night and drove downtown, spent two hours in the New Beetle Pavilion. I even won the opportunity to get my picture taken in a New Beetle they had at the show. I thought about ordering one at that time, but decided against it, since I couldn't test drive the car on the road.

At the Detroit Auto Show, I entered a contest. It consisted of choosing one New Beetle out of 400 or so that were created on the New Beetle website. If my vote one of the 10 most popular New Beetles, I would receive a prize. I really didn't think much of it, I mean, what are the odds???

Around the beginning of March, I began looking at buying myself a new car. I had pretty much narrowed my choice down to either the Dodge Intrepid or the Chrysler Concorde. Days before I was going to purchase, I received a package in the mail from VW. Upon opening it, I found I had won the "New Beetle" Music CD. Talk about being a marketer's dream, I called up Schmelz Countryside, talked to Tim, my friendly salesman, and arranged a test drive. Tim stayed late, waited for me to arrive, then not only took me on a test drive, but spent at least a half hour showing me all of the features. It drove as well on the road as it looked at the Auto Show. Two days later, I put down a $500 dollar down payment, reserving my spot at #94 on the order list. My order was for a 4-speed automatic, sport, comfort, and all-weather packages. I also ordered a leather interior, sunroof, and ABS. Basically, a loaded New Beetle. As for colors, yellow was my first choice, white my second, and bright-blue my third. Quite a switch from a large car like the Intrepid or Concorde, and a considerably longer wait, but I knew it would be worth it... Of course, I did make one request of my salesman Tim. I had to be allowed to come in and test drive it whenever I wanted to, otherwise I'd go crazy waiting.

In the meantime, Alanna, a friend of mine, spotted something I had been looking for since I was old enough to imagine driving. Driving down the street one day with her mother, she spotted a 1968 Volkswagen Campmobile. It had been a Texas vehicle, had very little rust, had spent every winter it had been up here indoors. It was a manual transmission, but everyone assured me I could learn how to drive it in short order. After a 5 minutes lesson from my father, and quite a bit of stalling the engine, I did manage to become a pretty good manual transmission driver. I parallel parked the van, drove in stop-and-go traffic with it, and when my Neon was in the shop to get the hail damage repaired, it was my only vehicle. I began to enjoy the manual transmission. The previous owner named the Campmobile Bertha, I have since renamed her Twinkie.

Once a week I went in to drive the current demo Beetle. Tim, myself, and normally a friend of mine would go spinning around Maplewood. Almost everyone I knew had taken a spin in the Beetle, everyone was always impressed. Not only was this a "cute" car, but you could tell it was well-built and solid. About the middle of June, they didn't have an automatic demo for me to drive, all they had was a manual. Although I was a bit aprehensive, I decided to give the manual a try. Wow! It was great. Sure, it took some getting used to, but after my experience driving the bus, the "modern" manual transmission was a piece of cake. I amended my order, changed it to no preference for the transmission style.

Around the end of June, I recieved a call from my dealer. (I was #56 on the list) They had a white, 5-speed manual, grey interior Beetle on the lot. Although it had the convienience package, it was missing not only the leather interior and sunroof (which I was told was going to be unavailable in the 1998 model year), but it was also missing the ABS brakes, sport package, and all-weather package. Although it broke my heart, I had to turn it down. Not only for the things that it was missing, but I couldn't stand the grey interior.

On July 9th, my dealer called me up again. (I was #47 on the list) They had yet another white, 5-speed manual on the lot. This one had a black interior, both sport and conviencence packages, and the all-weather package. Still no ABS, but otherwise almost exactly what I ordered. I was still a bit leary about purchasing a manual, but once I drove it, I knew it would be mine. The following Tuesday, July 14th, I took the afternoon off, drove over to the dealer, and closed the deal.

My New Beetle, #24001, was delivered into the country (or "born") on June 5th. It was sent from the Port of Houston to the Chicago distribution point, and from there was delivered to my dealership on July 9th, the same day they called me.

Ever since I put down my deposit, I have been planning on adding a camera to my New Beetle, so that others may enjoy driving in it as much as I do. (OK, it's really just an excuse to be a geek and do something no one has done before) Although I didn't have BeetleCam up and running on the first day I met my New Beetle, I have since gotten it up and operational. You can check it out by clicking here.