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Dune Buggy

When I first saw the Dune Buggy I didn't particularly like the orange rail frame but it was still very sharp looking with all its chrome parts and large rear tires. I took it for a short test drive. It was loud, very quick and handled extremely well. The sensations of the power behind the wheel and the windblowing through my hair felt like freedom to me; this was the first time I had ever driven a dune buggy. I was 32, but being a kid at heart I was ecstatic and knew at that moment that I had to have it.

After purchasing the dune buggy I learned the hard way that looks can be deceiving. While driving home I had my first mechanical "nightmare." Suddenly the engine started losing power, a cloud of smoke engulfed me, and then, seconds later, the engine cut out. The excitement that had overwhelmed me when driving my Bug home for the first time, soon turned into confusion. I think Iwas also a little bit in shock because everything happened so quickly, and I found myself stranded late at night.

Since it was dark, I could not figure out what had happened. All I knew was that the engine would not start and I was stuck. A friendly motorcyclist stopped to assist me, but since he knew nothing about dune buggies, it was like the blind leading the blind. He offered to help me push the Bug out of the busy street. Moments later a Police Officer pulled up behind me. My first thought was that I was going to get some type of citation because the police are strict where I live. I was relieved that I had temporary tags on the bug; otherwise my nightwould have most definitely been worse!

The Police Officer, who happened to be very nice, used his cruiser to push my dune buggy across a major intersection and into a gas station, said, "good luck" and was on his way. Under the service station lights what I beheld was not a pleasant sight. I found my dune buggy covered with engine oil, not to mention myself. I soon found the culprit, a split hose. Of course the gas station did not have a mechanic on duty, so it was up to me to figure out what to do. With a dime (my only tool, which still remains in the Dune Buggy to this day), I was able to disconnect the clamp from the hose and tear off the piece of hose that was damaged. I then reconnected the hose and tightened the clamp down over the undamaged part with my "tool." I purchased three quarts of oil, filled the engine back up, and was on my way within 15 minutes. I was a little upset, well, quite upset, that this had happened to me only moments after purchasing my Bug. However I was amazed that, not being mechanically inclined, I was still able to fix the problem and be back on the road in no time.

The next morning, after cleaning the oil off my Bug I decided to really look it over (should have done this the first time, but my excitement got the best of me.) I soon realized that the hoses on the dune buggy were not the correct type to withstand the heat of an air-cooled engine, so I replaced all the hoses just to be on the safe side (engine oil isn't the easiest thing to clean up!)

I've had the Bug for a year now and it seems that things are breaking a little at a time, but it gives me the opportunity to fix it the correct way. It is to my advantage that VW parts for older bugs are inexpensive compared to modern-day vehicles. To date, I've made repairs from a broken gearshift to replacing the throttle cable and general maintenance, like replacing spark plugs, filters, and changing the oil (very easy on bugs but it reminds me of my first drive home!) My next project is to do some major electrical rewiring; I've noticed some shoddy wiring, so I plan to replace the wiring before I find myself stranded. My Bug is slowly coming together and I still love it.

I've learned three lessons since purchasing my Bug:

  1. Always have a vehicle checked over very carefully before purchasing it, preferably by someone that is familiar with the type of vehicle.

  2. Just because I'm a woman I should never doubt my abilities or be afraid to learn new things. I'm amazed at what I've accomplished with my Bug so far.

  3. Most important, one is never too old to have fun!

I have no regrets about buying my dune buggy, and now it has become a new hobby for me. I truly enjoy fixing it up and taking care of it. Heads turn constantly when I'm driving my dune buggy, not that I like the attention, but it makes me feel good just to be driving it. To see children, parents, and even grandparents turn their heads and smile as I drive by reaffirms that I made the right decision. Sometimes I think that I even see a little envy in their eyes. I can tell they want to be sitting right where I am, having fun! Sometimes you just have to go for it!