Wednesday, October 19, 2011

One Year VANiversary!

Much better than a pot of gold!
It feels as though we've owned our Westy for a lifetime, but it has only been one year since we brought her home from central Maine. 12,000 miles later, 9,000 of which we racked up during our cross-country summer road trip, our lovely Vanagon is still running strong. The odometer just rolled over the 186,000 mile mark. Miraculously, the engine has not required a bit of work since we've owned it, and we're still averaging a consistent 20mpg. That's not to say the van hasn't needed work--I've invested many hours myself and many dollars with the mechanic--but all in all it hasn't been the nightmarish money pit that deep down I feared it might be.

Parker the dog was the first addition to our family, Ruby the Vanagon was the second, and coming along shortly will be a baby boy (we're still working on a name). We'll need to invest in some safety upgrades, the first of which will probably be GoWesty's three-point shoulder belts on the bench seat.  This will allow for safer installation of an infant car seat, as well as added security and peace of mind for our adult passengers. At the moment, one of the lap seat belts is secured to the buckle with an overhand knot.  It's about time to fix that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

VW Day / Transporterfest, Brookline, MA

We enjoyed an unseasonably warm and sunny fall day at the VW Day / Transporterfest, held on the grounds of the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. This was the first time we’d ever been to a car show, let alone participated in one. I can’t say that we had the nicest or most interesting Vanagon on the lot, but it was certainly not the ugliest. Our tile floor, clean and spacious interior, and sparkling paint job got some nice compliments.

Wild creations and creative transformations intermingled with classics restored to immaculate, original condition. One memorable VW was a 70s Bug converted into a flatbed truck that hauled around a mini-Bug go-kart. There was only one "Thing" at the event; hopefully he took home the prize in that category. Gorgeous camper interiors were around every corner. Stylish Karmann Ghias occupied the center of the lawn, surrounded by Bugs, Buses, Transporters, and Dune Buggies in all directions.

Freshly waxed and buffed split-window buses restored to original glory were parked adjacent to their 50-year-old brethren, whose rusty patinas invoked a history of countless adventures.

I must admit, we were a bit jealous of the Vanagons with various engine conversions. The Westy parked in front of us, owned by a VW mechanic from NY, was equipped with a beautiful Subaru engine from a late-model Forester. Next to us, the Syncro from Lein’s Auto in nearby Somerville, MA was running a Passat VR6. Another boasted a VW TDI. There were a couple Zetec conversions too. We don’t have the time or money for an engine upgrade any time soon, but the dream is very much alive.
The auto museum itself had an amazingly diverse collection of cars, from the earliest electric “horseless carriages” to a $450,000 Mercedes SLR McLaren. I also enjoyed their collections of vintage bicycles, which included an assortment of the dangerous high wheeling Penny-farthings and a later generation of bicycle known as “Boneshakers.” With a wrought-iron frame and wooden wheels encased in wrought-iron “tires,” it's pretty clear where the direct-drive boneshaker gets its name.

If you’re in the area, the museum and the surrounding Larz Anderson Park are definitely worth a visit. Dog-friendly!