I have a little yellow car. It emanates sunbeams. It puts a smile on my face. It solves problems. It fulfills dreams. Dark sorrows fled at its advent.

And like a real sun, from which sunbeams shine, looking at it would burn your eyes.  From the water-stained headliner, to the nonexistent floor, the interior is filthy. There is no steering wheel. One headlight is missing, making the car look like a grimacing, one eyed hermit in a funky movie. The seats are smeared with dirt – formerly mud – I believe.

That said, this car has been wonderful to own. Because sunbeams are wonderful not in of themselves, but for the effect they have on other things. I had a series of dark problems. A car with no heater. A car in need of obsolete parts. A car in need of an organ donor. And one day a little sunbeam shone down, illuminating the answer to my problem. I needed a Volkswagen turn signal relay – a part that hadn’t been manufactured for forty years. Now I have one. My steering column was messed up. Now I have a new one. The arm rests that go on the doors – a used set cost close to $300 – but now I have a pair (even if they are just a tad beat up).

But now I have another problem, almost worse than my first. I have a car that will burn your eyes if you look at it. And that car is in my parents’ garage. Furthermore, I keep removing parts, and the car continues to grow more and more visually caustic. The original plan was to take a week, strip the car down, sell whatever parts I could, and call the junk yard. Truthfully I bought the car just for its engine. And though I’ve not used the engine yet, I have taken relays (turn signal, head light, flasher) the fuse box, the windows and window regulators, the steering column, parts of the rocker channels, the rear seat, arm rests, a spare tire and a healthy assortment of nuts and bolts. Not only has the car offered me many physical parts, I’ve learned a lot about how Type 3s were supposed to be. My red VW was anything but original. In addition to some custom body work, some previous owner had managed to royally mess up the electrical system and disconnect many mechanical parts. Though the yellow car has not aged well, the remaining parts are original and unmolested.

Eventually the sunbeam will run out of useful parts. The sun can then set, and I’ll take a rest from disassembling VWs.


One thought on “Sunbeams

  1. Goodness, I could go back in time reading your article. I can’t tell you how many part bodies my oldest brother had around the shop, after a bad snow storm and a close encounter with a rail road crossing sign, one body would undress, the other would reform. After another engine problem, tools and grease would fly and: walla, another ride in the dream car. You’re sunbeams shine all the way up to Edmonton. Best to you and yours Montanan!

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