OpenRoad Driver Volume 13 Issue 1 - Page 42

42 » OpenRoad Driver “A Beetle was one of the first cars I was ever driven in,” says the soft-spoken 56-year-old father of three, who recalls memories of sharing a backseat with his sister on cross-country family road trips. Since being bitten by the “bug” at an early age, Wawzonek has owned 30-odd different models at varying times, ranging from little more than a bare shell out of someone’s back yard costing $50, to more complete examples needing a little TLC. Made between October 1952 and March 1953, the Bugs were known as “Zwitters,” the German word for hybrid, boasting either a split rear window or an oval style that eventually became the standard. Today the Bug now belongs to OpenRoad Auto Group after Wawzonek parted ways with it last year. So for the time being, Wawzonek is Bug-less. He satisfies his Das Auto craving with a 2008 Golf and a 1973 Westfalia Camper Van. “I love the feel of driving a Beetle. It always felt comfortable whenever I bought another one. Kind of like an old friend,” recalls Wawzonek. AN INTERVIEW WITH B U G E N T H U S I A S T, B R I A N WAW Z O N E K What’s your favourite memory in the ’52 Beetle? The first time I drove it. After the car had been left sitting for 25 years or so, it almost brought tears to my eyes to cruise around the block. I could feel the car breathe a sigh of relief that it had been brought back to life. It’s inspiring to know how this car helped to change the attitudes of people about small cars, and the way they would drive in the future. What was the most difficult or challenging task in restoring the ’52? Turning the car from a bare shell and boxes of parts into what it looked like in a Volkswagen showroom in 1952. It took a lot of phone calls, e-mails and long hours by VW guru Geoff Peterson and myself to get it done. How did the ’52 compare to the other Beetles you’ve owned? To a Beetle owner, an old Beetle is an old Beetle, whether it’s a fully restored car or a dust-covered restoration project in someone’s barn. VW fanatics can see past the state of what’s in front of them, and see themselves in the driver seat. Only having a 25-horsepower motor, getting to highway speeds takes a little while but once there, it purrs down the road. Would you do anything differently if you could go back to before you purchased it? Overall, no. People who love old Volkswagens are always willing to help you find parts, sending e-mails to let you know about items for sale. If I had to restore the car before the age of the internet, it would have taken years and lots of phone calls to start to collect the small items the car needed. Although some thought I spent too much time on tracking down the right original part for the car, I always felt good that I had done the best I could to make the car back to what it was like when it rolled off the assembly line in 1952.