by Betty Dirosse
Once upon a time, when cars were truly affordable, I received my first new car. It was a 1971 robin's egg blue Volkswagen. Little did either I or the car know, we would have many adventures by moving from suburban Long Island, NY, to Wilmington, Vermont.
Over the course of those next nine years and 350,000 miles (yep, although salt on the roads made a transplant of the engine to a second body necessary), that car and I drove through blizzards, white outs, many returns to New York, visits to Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Boston, Nantucket and a move to Florida and back.
It began having quirks early on. The horn gave out the first week of ownership but gradually came back all by itself. After many winters in Vermont the heater boxes gave out, or so I was told by a dealer. Magically they came back after going over a pot hole in Boston and stayed on the whole time I lived in Florida!
Then came the strange case of the black squirt. Every time I hit the brake pedal the passenger would get squirted by black goo. It turned out to be brake fluid on the loose and was quickly repaired. On and on it went, with its little rear engine allowing me to scoot up snowy hills past the mighty Mercedes and Cadillacs. But the salt used to make the roads less slippery led to bad rusting of the body and I had to have the engine transplanted to another casing. The result: my Baby Blue was now black.
When it was finally ready, I drove it home, parked it in the driveway and then spent the night in a cabin watching the great blizzard of 1978 bury my car in 3 feet of snow! We made it out of that historic event about a week later. Vermont weather finally did that body in too and I wound up at last with another car.
Somewhere the engine that was my Baby Blue may still be alive. It never really quit. It spoiled me for life as I expected other cars to have that much staying power and they never did. My current car has come the closest-a 1987 Mercedes Diesel with 304,000 miles on it, but I am soon to let that go for a slightly newer car.
I'll never forget the Baby Blue. Long live the true People's Car: the original Volkswagen. I wish they could come back, but safety legislation made them obsolete. Still, there is no other car I'd rather be driving over a snow covered hill as my Blue.