Daughters, first cars, and High School. That's a combination gives every father heartburn. So it was in 1996. Just turning 16, needing some sort of transportation, and what to purchase for her independence (and our sanity)?
As my wife and I were returning from breakfast one Sunday morning, we stopped at a garage we had been in a number of times before. The fellow restored vintage tube radios. And I was thinking of buying another. When out of the shadows in back I spotted a small bright orange metal object. "What's that?" asked I. "That's part of the bumper of an old car!" said he. And we pulled the tarp off to reveal a 1973 VW Super Beetle Convertible, in bright orange. "For sale?". "Sure is!" And we discussed potential pricing and some of the car history, and then my wife and I headed home to discuss this find with .... daughter.
"Found a car for you for school." Then they give you that I'm 15 and your not look, and "What kind of car is it?" says she. "What????" "I don't want a car THAT old!!!!" And in my most sincere and restrained voice, with even a forced smile, I said "Let's just go look, you might like it." As this conversation went on for some time, I was more convinced this would be the right COOL car for her to drive safely in our town to and fro, and she was even more convinced that adults are really out of touch with most of the important aspects of life. And parents are the worst example.
As we drove over to see the car, daughter reluctantly sat quietly in the front seat. Not quite restrained, although I do remember pulling her seat belt quite snug. And then we entered the garage. And there was the VW ... and she stopped, took a very deep breath, eyes wide open by now, biting her lower lip, and ......... "I love it!"
After a bit of floor pan restoration, some work on the interior, addition of a stereo of course (turns out to be even more critical than the engine for high school), our daughter used the car (very happily) through high school and into college. Since then I've kept the car, engine rebuilt, new suspension, improved stereo, and driven daily just for the fun of driving convertibles in California. And every time she comes home to visit, yup, she asks if she can borrow the keys for one more spin about town and yet another chance to recall those high school times. And every time I pass that garage, I recall the very first time my teenage daughter and I were in full agreement on one of the more important decisions in her young life.