Continuing Car Saga

Several years ago I had a hard time with my car because, as I found out later, the mechanic I went to at the time was a cheat and not only didn’t do what he was supposed to, he actually sabotaged the vehicle. In one case, instead of replacing the leaky brakes, he cut the rear brake line and blocked it with a bolt. I still don’t understand the reasoning behind that. And there was something about the points. Either he put in bad points or used cheap ones, or something, because the car kept breaking down.

I eventually found a mechanic who only dealt in air-cooled VW Beetles. He switched out the original ignition with an electronic ignition, which eliminated the points problem. Of course, things are never that easy. It turns out that the electronic ignition and the carburetor no longer “spoke” to each other, so he had to put in an older carburetor, which entailed reworking various connections.

Fast forward to today. The carburetor he put in no longer works, so my current mechanic ordered and installed a new carburetor. And no surprise, it doesn’t speak the language of the electronic ignition. The mechanic spent all day yesterday trying to get everything meshed, without much luck. (I felt bad that he had to do all that work, but he seemed happy enough to have something different to do since it’s a far cry from what he normally does.) He’s trying one more thing today, replacing some connectors, but he doesn’t think it will work. While researching the problem, he found site after site that categorically said not to put an electronic ignition in this particular model and year because of the very problem he encountered.

So now the best option seems to be to order a new ignition of the non-electronic variety and install that. I had no problem with the original-style ignition until the days of the cheating mechanic, so I’m okay with that, and in a way I prefer it since it restores the car to its original condition. Although I had no objection to the electronic ignition, I never really liked the idea of a non-regulation carburetor.

I do like that this new mechanic seems to be invested in my car. I think he gets as much a kick out of people commenting on the vehicle when it’s in his care and listening to their reminiscences of their experience with a VW bug as I do.

Even though some people think I need to get a new car (and as I get older and have a harder time clambering in and out, I sometimes agree), I’ll stick with this one to the end — either my end or the car’s end. The money I put into the car each year is a lot less than a monthly car payment would be. Besides, it’s to the point that I almost have to keep it. I mean, how many people have bought but a single vehicle in their entire life, and are still driving that vehicle? It gives me a weird sort of prestige. And makes almost everyone I meet an instant friend.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

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10 Responses to “Continuing Car Saga”

  1. Uthayanan Says:

    Liberty statue came from France. But you can’t drive a car more than 20 years old in Paris !
    Paris will ban cars registered before 1997 from the city between 8am and 8pm on weekdays, but classic cars registered 30 years or more ago will be allowed to drive.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s interesting. So you can drive a car newer than 20 years and older than 30, but nothing in between? I wouldn’t have a problem with that since I wouldn’t drive my car in heavy traffic anyway.

  2. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    I think I’d prefer the original ignition system.

  3. Estragon Says:

    Interesting. I didn’t know the original bugs had much in the way of electronic doodads, such as carburetors that spoke to anything. I even have a vague recollection of a manual choke.

    It seems to me that sticking with the original design is wise. Some accomodation for the likes of ethanol gas might be unavoidable, but the thing worked pretty well as it came. If something works, why mess it up?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The electronic ignition is a more recent creation, or so I understand. Apparently what came with the car was a vacuum ignition. And I agree about the wisdom of going back to the original design. Luckily, this mechanic is trustworthy, so he won’t screw things up by putting in cheap points and charging me for the expensive ones.

      The choke that came with my car is automatic, though according to my previous mechanic,(he of the electronic ignition), I’d been starting my car all wrong. The choke is started when the accelerator pedal is halfway deployed. I also didn’t know that I was supposed to use 91 octane, and yet with all my ignorance, I managed to keep the car going longer than most people.

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