Goodbye, Fair Steed

Posted by on Oct 6, 2010 in David's Blog | 0 comments


I sold my 1980 Volkswagen Westfalia today. I owned it for four years. Before me, Erich owned it for at least ten. Before him, it belonged to another mechanic who worked at Continental. It’s been in the family for a while, and it was sad to see it go.

I didn’t want to sell it, but I needed room in the stable. I hadn’t done everything I wanted to do, Westy-camping wise, but I was beginning to realize that that trip to South America or the jaunt to Newfoundland were not going to happen any time soon. I’m way too busy.
The van was fun, but I’m not camper enough to need it.
So I bought an old Volvo, as you do. A 1971 Volvo P1800. What a beauty. It’s just the thing for short trips to glitzy hotels in nearby cities. It’s just the thing for dressing fancy and going lawn bowling. It’s just the thing for string back gloves and twisty roads. It’s a dandy.
We’re often asked what kind of car is best. Best? Best for what?
I don’t know, but I can tell you what I’ve owned.
My cars, in Chronological order:

1983 BMW 320i. Not a bad first car. These cars have always been underrated. Perfect balance, lots of visibility, reliable and cheap to run. I added an extra “i” to the back, making it a 320ii. In hindsight, I have no idea why.
1966 Volvo 122s, 4 door. Started out mint green, ended up a really nice maroon. It was a beauty when I sold it. When I bought it I didn’t know a thing about cars. When I sold it, I was a licensed mechanic. No Joke. I do what I do today because of that car.

1976 BMW 2002. Unbelievably rusty. The rust was absolutely everywhere. No heat and bald tires, so not a great winter car, but I owned it when I was snowboarding, so it saw a lot of snow. Quick and fun to drive, but with all that rust, I’m probably lucky to be alive.

1984 Volkswagen GTi. I’m not sure why the “i” is not capitalized, and I’m too lazy to Google it. Fun car, especially once I put a sport suspension in, added headers and a cam, and ported the intake runners. I spun it at my first Autocross event and cut down an entire shrub. It smelt like burnt foliage for a week.
1979 Volkswagen Westfalia. Absolutely mint. This was a beauty. I bought it with the engine in the back seat in pieces. Two months later I drove it to Ontario with my wife, sister-in-law, and three year old niece. It was a deluxe model, with a perfectly working refrigerator. The three speed automatic forced a level of zen-patience on me that I haven’t been comfortable with since. I sold it for $7500, and should have asked more. I’ve never seen a nicer one.

1988 Dodge Omni. I know, I can’t believe it either. Sadly, the newest car I’ve ever owned.
Q: What do you get when you take a carburetor- automatic 1988 Dodge Omni and put in a fuel injected, turbocharged 2.5L with a close ratio Getrag transmission?
A: A wasted summer and lots and lots of tire smoke.
A 1968 Volvo 122s two door. This was the engine after I rebuilt it. The previous engine blew a hole right through the piston. I passed Aircare with the hole, drove the work with the hole, didn’t really mind the hole. My wife wasn’t a big fan of watching me change spark plugs every other day though. I also put Jaguar v12 brakes and Mustang II springs on this one. Ugly as sin on the outside!

1985 Audi 4000s. Perhaps the most euro looking car made in the 1980′s. Notchy and square looking, with a nice torquey 5 cylinder engine that hung over the front wheels and made the car understeer in the worst way. It only gave me trouble once: the clutch master cylinder let go on a road trip to Penticton. We had a car load of people and all our gear, but the car made it home tugging along with just 4th gear. It had heated seats too!


1980 Volkswagen Westfalia. 65hp. Really. Really. Slow. But that’s the point. The adventure was getting there. Being there was good too. Four adults could sleep in comfort all night, make coffee in the morning, and get lost all day in it. I lost at crazy eights a few too many times inside this van.
1984 Volvo 240DL wagon. This is my current car. It’s in near time warp conditon. Volvo’s last like that. Starts, drives, stops, holds lots of stuff inside, and 4 bikes on top. Perfect. The wife likes the heater.


1971 Volvo P1800s. Watch out ladies, I am now irresistible.

This is possibly the sexiest car ever mass produced. Even better that it’s a Volvo. Curves by Italians, mechanics by Swedes. Perfect match. It’s got a completely red interior for god’s sake. As you read this, you can probably feel yourself wishing you were me.
I don’t blame you.