A swarm of Volkswagens took over Lodi’s A&W restaurant on Saturday evening for an all-German Cruise Night.
Ben Sprints is the president of Straight Up Dubs, a northern California centered Volkswagen appreciation club made up of friends who just couldn’t stop buying and refinishing VW Bugs and Buses. They gave their group a name and started going to car shows together in 2008. On Saturday, he and 61 of his friends brought their VWs out to the Lodi Avenue parking lot for a show, raffle, and perhaps a sale or two.
Sprints likes the German car maker because the engines are easy to tinker with.
“They’re good learning vehicles,” he said. Right now, Sprints owns a ‘72 and a ‘66 Bug, but he’s in the market for a Bus or a rag top Bug.
His friend, Theo Buckendorf, has gotten his hands on a rare VW find, and he isn’t letting go. Buckendorf spent 17 years restoring a ‘65 21-window Bus. Today the car is a shining cherry red with a tidy portfolio of the restoration process in the back. Just how rare is the Bus? One was recently sold for $70,000, in pieces. A completed car could go for $100,000 more at auction.
Buckendorf prefers the unique, easily identifiable look of a VW body. He follows the car club because he says there are no big egos.
“We’re all part of a brotherhood here,” he said.
But sisters are welcome, too, and don’t mind getting their hands dirty. Aubrey Anderson purchased “Betty,” a blue 1965 Bug with a roof rack and a rusty hood, and drives it daily.
“After my husband left, this car has been my rock. I work on it, I do everything,” she said “She’s just a cool car. She has a look about her.”
Anderson comes from a family of Bug aficionados in Manteca. She bought her first 1973 Bug in her 20’s and replaced the motor and carburetor herself.
She likes the laid back atmosphere at VW shows.
“You can touch a VW at a show. Some other cars, like a ‘59 Chevy, you touch it and the owner will scream at you. Here, you can really look at a car. If you brush against it, no one gets mad,” she said.
There was plenty to examine. Lined up across the parking lot were three Things, a half-dozen Buses, and every iteration of tricked out Bugs you can think of. Some had their original paint, still in fair condition, while others were left to rust a bit in the elements for that well-driven look. There was even a right-hand-drive 1965 Type 3 Notchback from Australia. It’s owned by Kyle Madden of Sacramento, who has driven right-hand cars for so long it’s too weird to drive normally.
“I should have been a mailman or something,” he said. The beige car has a few spots where the original paint has worn through, but Madden wants to keep it that way.
“I’d be too afraid to drive it everyday if I had some kind of fancy paint job,” he said.
Volkswagen shows sometimes bring whole families together.
Roscoe Walker met his wife, Jasmine, when he asked for change at a Bug show 13 years ago. Since then the family has added two daughters and keep 20 Volkswagen cars on their four acres of land outside of Lodi. Their favorite ride is a ‘66 Westfalia camping bus named Lulabelle with one million miles on the odometer. It’s gone through seven motors and four transmissions. The car has been all across the western United States and goes off roading to Lake Shasta once a year.
“I’ve been going to shows since I was three, and I have my own set of tools,” said Jasmine Walker. “This is our hobby, and our lifestyle.”
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.