Bugging Dad

Tales of a first car

MARISKA BRADY wasn’t yet 16 in 1994, when her mom and dad found what they thought was the perfect car for her at a trusted garage. She admits, “At the height of my teenage rebellion, I was like ‘a VW Beetle? It’s orange with black. It’s Halloween.’”

She also concedes that not only did she think of a Beetle as a “cliché of the hippie movement that I didn’t yet understand, but I was sort of anti-anything that my dad thought was cool. But when he took me to see the orange convertible, I fell totally in love with it.”

Pat Brady remembers his daughter’s initial response and change of heart exactly as she does, and he is grateful she came around quickly. The owner allowed them to take it out before the purchase. Pat was glad Mariska liked it, because he felt strongly that both of his kids should learn to drive a stick.

Once home, dad and daughter had some work ahead, including removing and replacing the dash — where they found dried flowers and incense — recovering the seats and replacing the carpet. The only rust was in the floors, but for that job, Mariska’s brother stepped in to help.

Now a married Ph.D candidate in Evolutionary Biology at the University of Texas, Mariska admits that originally, “the car wasn’t what I imagined in my mind’s eye.” She further recalls that “my girlfriends loved it, but my boyfriends loved it more.”

It was her primary transportation throughout high school and around the northern California town where she grew up. When she went to college at UC Berkeley, she continued to use the car once she moved out of the dorms. After transferring to UC Santa Cruz, she would drive it when she visited home.

Although she’s been away from home for 16 years, she still uses the Beetle when she visits her folks, and her husband thinks it’s great. In fact, she says, “I’d love to have it again.”

“In retrospect,” Mariska says, “it was such a great car to drive around — a real conversation starter. I made friendships because of that car. (or… through that car?) Often, I’d take it out and find offers on the windshield.”

In 1999, Mariska’s parents bought her a Mazda pickup, which she still drives today. The orange and black Beetle convertible, on the other hand, now has a fresh engine, and Mom and Dad drive it frequently. After more than two decades, it remains an important part of the Brady family.

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