Volkswagens hold a special place in the hearts of owners and drivers all over the world. At one time or another just about everyone has either owned a Volkswagen of some type or at least has a story to tell about a friend who did. It was the nature of all early VWs to be quirky and exhibit strong and unique personality traits. if you have ever been a VW owner you know what I'm talking about. Love. Hate. Whether you were passionate about your Bug, or Bus, or at times desperate, of whichever variant you owned, it was never just a means of transportation. Each had a strong human-like hold on you. Until you sold it.
I know this photo isn't one of my images of Tampa's history, or our gorgeous waterfront or even a blazing sunset, but rather four VWs lined up together. You would have passed this in a heartbeat without even noticing. I passed it too but circled back thinking I saw something to shoot when they appeared dead in front of me across the street. What caught my attention was the four represented almost the entire range of Volkswagens produced for a good while. (I think the only model missing is what I called the 1500 Squareback, built from the 1961 until 1973.) The Beetle, on the left, maybe a '68-70 was produced from 1938 to 2003, when the New Beetle was introduced (On a trip to Mexico a few years back I almost couldn't believe seeing a brand spanking new Beetle, then only being built and sold in that country but no longer imported into the US.) The most interesting model in this used car lineup is the one known affectionately in this country as the Thing. It is actually the Volkswagen Type 181, or "Kurierwagen, " a military model that enjoys a cult status today. Only built from 1969-1983, roughly 90,000 were produced. It is known in the United Kingdom as the Trekker and in Mexico as the Safari. It was built from 1969 to 1983, although civilian sales stopped in 1980. I think its strange to find a Volkswagen Beetle, a van or Bus, a Thing and the last example, on the far right, a dune buggy, all sitting on a street together. The dune buggies were a big hit on beaches from Florida to California and found a long life as off-road fun cars. The only place with this assortment of VWs would have to be a Volkswagen repair garage, but still, that's quite a collection of Volkswagen history...and many memories for lots of us. (By way of disclosure I must confess to having owned two: a brand new VW Super Beetle (bright orange with an 8-track tape deck); and a new green and white van (with air conditioning - yes, AC - as cold as a meat locker and a FM radio.) Wow, that's when gas was still 25 cents a gallon and I could travel a long distance on a tank. And did. Notice that the van is a camping type and is in need of major restoration. Although they were extremely slow, and wouldn't climb a steep hill floored, they were solid. dependable and lots of fun to own and drive.