First let me say that this node title is a blatant rip-off of The Existential Pleasures of Engineering
, a book which my dad so thoroughly enjoys. As a side note: As with many of my write-ups, this node is inspired by recent dealings of this nature. As a second side note: Read "Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
." As a tertiary side note: By Volkswagen
s I refer to air-cooled models, specifically to the Type 1 "Beetle" and the Type 113 "Karmann Ghia." Now down to the meat of this write-up.
Fixing a Volkswagen is a pretty simple thing. There are clear directions available, and the mechanical workings are simple, but still challenging. I guess VolkswagenMaintenance is LEGOs for grown ups. You get to make something run, and you do it with your own hands. The car's condition is a product of your work and your effort. So working on a VW is rewarding in the same way that finishing the super cool Zorkon Death Base LEGO kit is rewarding, but a VW is is bigger. Also, the VW, while simple, is still slightly more complicated than the LEGO kit.
Inherent in the joy of VW maintenance is the attitude with which you approach the car and the attitude with which you own the car. My attitude constantly changes toward my car. I can never decide wether it's a horrible vehicle that should be condemned to the hell of the scrap yard, or beutiful piece of retro machinery that needs some love to be all that it can be. After repairs though, my outlook always brightens as I realize that nothing on a Volkswagen is as bad as you think it is, and it will always teach you something new. Usually it teaches me to be more diligent in repair and more patient in my moods towards it, an affect which helps balance my personality out.
In today's rushing society, I find it helpful for me to sit back and consider a peice of obsolete machinery and consider the lessons it hold for me:
-Reliability is not longevity
-True Beauty is in simplicity of design, not complex gimmicks
-Being in a hurry is just as bad as not being on time, usually worse
-Emotionless use of a car is like a quicky with a hooker, sure it works for you, but it works for everyone else too, and there's no special up-keep to keep it working, just hop in and go.*
So what I really want to say here is this: If you get a chance, own a Volkswagen and give it a shot...see if you don't enjoy it. It may change your outlook, and a new perspective is a horrible thing to waste.
* Lest this statement should be taken the wrong way, I think I need to clarify it. It is not a bash against reliable modern cars or hookers, it's just supposed to highlight the impersonal relationship that one has with a car of that nature. When was the last time you saw your rocker arms?