Dr. Tod T

The 1953 VW bug knows as "Rico"

It's great that "Rico" is still remembered lovingly by all. What a great car! I remember driving him in 1968 to Amsterdam with Frau von Radecki to pick up my sister at the airport. Rico would periodically just quit running. I would freak out, fearing we'd never meet the plane but Frau Von would just pet him on the dashboard and coo, "Du musst ihn streicheln, einfach so!" ["You must stroke him just so!]. When that didn't work, we'd sit on the shoulder of the Autobahn and she'd sing Russian folk songs to him. Needless to say, each time it worked and Rico would hit the road again. He later took us through Bavaria, Austria, and elsewhere with only the occasional need for streicheln [strokes or pets]. [Don Clarke]

Two years later, I resurrected "Rico" from a state of disrepair. I drove him all over Western Europe during the winter and spring of 1970, eventually gifting him to an Italian/American, Sigfried de Rachewilz. Wasn't I surprised when less than a year later I received an official inquiry from the Italian Ministry of Police!

How they traced me to Palo Alto, I will never know, but much to my amazement, I received a demanding document from the Italian High Police regarding ownership of a 1953 Volkswagen, last registered to me while living in Beutelsbach, West Germany. After some difficulty I was able to reconstruct the circumstances which began this ‘Unfall’ (mishap). Apparently, Siegfried had loaned Rico to an Italian buddy known for his leftist political leanings. This 'buddy' had parked Rico for several days on the city streets of Merano. When the Polizei investigated, they discovered boxes of leftist pamphlets in Rico's rear seat. Perhaps fearing a communist invasion, Rico and his contents were confiscated. Rico still sported the long expired German plates from when he carried my friends and me around the European continent. Through diligent sleuthing and meticulous German bureaucracy, officials were able to trace the automobile to me. Siegfried assured me not to worry, as the confiscation issue had been resolved, and Rico had been returned to his castle-home, Brunnenburg. In February of 1971, I received the following letter from Siegfried, then at Harvard, concerning my old friend and trusted companion, Rico.

Dear Tod 28-1-1971

I am sorry to hear of an 'Unfall’ (mishap) with Rigo (Rico); the other name you mentioned does not ring a bell. Unfortunately I didn't have complete control of who was using the car while I was here (in Cambridge, Mass.). I know Graziella and her boyfriend used it a few times and I think Pat (Patrizia) did too. I also lent it to a friend of mine twice, but he reported no accidents. Anyway, for this very reason, I took Rigo to the 'Eisenhaendler"(Scrap Metal Works) when I was at home over Christmas, with instructions that they could keep the 'carcass' and just put the engine aside. So, as of then, Rigo is no more. Anyway, I will try to find out what the Unfall was all about, and I don't think you should experience any further 'hassles'.

Ciao, Siggo

(Siegfried de Rachewiltz)

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