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cided she wanted a Volkswagen Bee-

tle. We have no idea where that idea

came from since she was surrounded

by Fords her entire life. Still, the Bee-

tle idea was okay with me and we

started talking about the cars and

looking at options. And then soccer,

and other high school and family

events came along forcing the Beetle

plan to slide down the priority list. It

slid so far down that over the years I

forgot about it.

Apparently Nicole never forgot

about it. Not too long after she was

married she found the perfect Beetle

for the perfect price. Unfortunately,

Carl, her new husband, didn’t have

that same appreciation and the pur-

chase of a lifetime didn’t happen.

Then, just a few years later as Nicole

was completing her doctoral studies in

education leadership, Carl was seeing

life much more clearly and found the

second best purchase of a life time – a

1972 Volkswagen convertible. That


It has a few aches and pains but

for a ‘72 VW it’s a decent car and now

our Shelby has an adopted sister to

share the garage with on occasion.

Hmmm, it’s not a Shelby. But it is a

convertible. And Mama likes it so I

guess it’s okay.

The old car lessons began right

away. One of the first, and on the first

day even, was that the battery is

under the rear passenger seat. And if

that battery isn’t covered (as was not

done by the previous owner) the seat

springs will contact the battery posts

with the slightest weight on the back

seat cushion. Their daughter, An-

niePearl, is definitely heavy enough to

depress the springs. I’m told the re-

sulting fire was impressive, with real

flames! Fortunately, they were able to

pull the seat out and no one was hurt.

Nor was any real damage done. Once

everyone’s nerves settled, Carl in-

stalled a battery box with a cover.

Less exciting, but still an atten-

tion-getter for the younger generation,

is driving without power steering or

power brakes. Trying to slow down

and downshift, while muscling the

steering wheel though a corner and

holding a Starbucks is very likely

going to result in a stomach knotting

moment as the car refuses to respond

immediately to the driver’s intent. I’m

not admitting to anything, but some

older drivers might want to relearn


And maintenance. Yes, Nicole has

already seen that a vehicle that’s older

than she is will require unending at-

tention. However, there is a social up

side. It appears the Volkswagen peo-

ple, particularly the air-cooled folks,

wave to each other on the road. In

Volkswagen speak, “air-cooled” refers

to the early generations of vehicles

that didn’t rely on fluid, other than oil,

to cool the engine. Unfortunately, in

her earliest days of air-cooled owner-

ship, Nicole wasn’t getting too many

waves from other drivers. The car

wouldn’t restart when it was hot and

she was hesitant to take it out. The

clincher came the day she was barely

out of the garage and it just died.

Things were not going well for our

newest, old-car hobbyist. A few days

later the Volkswagen showed up in

front of my house on a trailer.

It took a few days to figure things

out but we got it running. Now it just

sits there and purrs like a high

mileage 1972 Volkswagen should. But

the best part was that when we

cleaned and rebuilt the carburetor,

Nicole did most of the work. She even

asked if we would “

need to prime it or


” when she was putting it

back on. That was a nice afternoon

and definitely a high-five moment

after the test run.

The youngest of the Texas Devlins

is AnniePearl. Technically a Stroud,

AnniePearl turned nine a few months

ago and like many children, she has a

number of interests. They range from

arts and crafts and riding her bicycle,

to helping her father field dress game,

and helping me with the cars. Two or

three years ago she started helping

her mom and Auntie Shelby with the

GT500’s tires at the Yellow Rose car

show. She has always asked what I’m

doing if I’m working on the Shelby,

and if she can help. As she’s getting

older it’s rewarding to see how she

learns and connects the dots with the

mechanical aspects of the cars.

The Volkswagen is an opportunity

for both AnniePearl and me to learn.

Even simple things like the heater

controls needed to be figured out. But

we did work things out and it was a

joy to see AnniePearl get her mother

down on the floor with a flashlight, to

watch as she operated the heater con-

trols and explained what was happen-

ing with the ducts and doors. Can she

check the oil? Absolutely – and just

about every time we go near the car. A

test light? Yes, that and a jumper wire

is really fun.

It’s probably safe to say that even

AnniePearl is able to balance her au-

tomotive priorities. One day when we

were working on the Volkswagen she

said she was going to play with her

Super Snake. I said okay and didn’t

think anything of it. A few minutes


Fall 2016 65

Nicole [


] and Shelby [


] at the 2014

Yellow Rose car show.