39 km – At any stop over 5 seconds, I begin to get asphyxiated by a cocktail of raw gasoline vapours and who-cares-about-emissions exhaust fumes that would give Al Gore a conniption fit.

1980 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
1980 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
1980 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible. Click image to enlarge

48 km – The radio does not work and only makes a faint buzz emanating from some sort of sound device hidden somewhere within the car. Both radio dials are as useless as racing stripes on a tank.

57 km – Driving downhill, panic sets in as I discover the brakes are downright scary. Step on the brakes, and nothing. Step a little harder – still nothing. Give ’er all you got, put your foot through the floor, and the Beetle begins to reluctantly slow down.

59 km – Sitting at a stop light, the rain has stopped. I hop out and quickly lower the roof. I re-enter the bug by stepping on the running boards. Yeah, how nice… these things need to make a comeback on more passenger cars.

66 km – Time to climb back up the hill. I hit the gas hard and an eruption of NVH occurs. I think people in Moose Jaw, SK heard me under wide-open throttle in California.

68 km – If you can’t hear or feel the NVH, fear not. The whole dashboard creaks, moans and vibrates during any vehicular operation.

79 km – It’s official, the car has no power. Sure is a loud little thing, though.

83 km – Now entering some twisties, it’s time to test the Bug’s handling. Wait, handling; what handling? I admit, I was not brave enough to throw this 32-year-old classic-vehicle-on-bicycle-tires hard into the undulating, wet, guard-rail-less mountain roads around Santa Monica.

92 km – I believe I have now mastered the brakes, just as an inattentive driver begins to leave a driveway right in front of me. I stab the brakes too hard, which results in immediate front-wheel lock up that may have scrubbed 0.1 km/h off my speed. As I slide by, at a constant 30 km/h, the driver has time to roll back in their driveway, wave me a quick ‘sorry about that’, get out and check their mailbox.

1980 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible1980 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible1980 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible1980 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
1980 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible. Click image to enlarge

99 km – So, the rear seat appears to be actually quite usable, as long as you don’t care about luxuries like seatbelts or legroom. You do however get an ashtray on each side of the rear seats. If you’re going to die in an accident, might as well have a smoke first, right?

100 km – After finishing my drive I conclude this is the coolest car I have ever driven. I got big smiles everywhere I went. Then again, I was in the capital of VW Beetle-mania – California. Regardless, I want one.

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