My First Car – 1979 Beetle Convertible

by Peter Hehm

As a teenager growing up in the eighties, films and movies had a tremendous influence on my friends and I when it came to “cool cars”.

On TV, there was Miami Vice with Crocket’s pseudo Ferrari Daytona and then a real Testarossa.

Knightrider was a talking Pontiac Trams-am! (see above)

The Dukes of Hazzard had a Dodge Charger named the General Lee.

In the movies, we were teased by all the exotic cars chasing Aston Martins in the James Bond movies!

My friends ended up buying Honda Accords and CRXs, Volkswagen Jettas and GTIs and Chevy Camaros and Firebirds!

What did I end up buying?

An old Beetle!

For today’s generation, that’s a Beetle with the engine in the back!

I remember reading in the classified ads of the Gazette in the spring of 85 (that’s how you shopped for a car back then), a low mileage Karmann Beetle Convertible. I asked my friend Eugenio to come and see it with me since he had a car.

Before I went into the dealership, I asked him to go inside first and tell me the condition of the car. When he came out, he smiled and said nervously:

“Don’t go in,

unless you really want to buy it”.

So I went in.

Right next to the Beetle was a 1957 Thunderbird for sale for the same asking price!

I looked at both cars, same asking price, 14,500$.

One was in showroom condition with 11,000KM, the other a multiple car owner with reliability issues according to the (honest?) salesman!

Both convertibles, so a winter car also needed to be calculated into my budget.

The decision from a “car guy” prospective was a no-brainer, go with the flashy looking car to get the girls!

But then as a first time car buyer, realistically you have to be rational about what you will buy as you first car.

Is it because you need a car to travel to work, mobility because you want freedom or because the vehicle is an extension of you?

My Italian friends ended up with Camaros! My other friends Hondas or GTIs. All great cars but none really had any “personality”.

At the end of October of that year, I took possession of the 1979 Beetle Convertible!

Countless stories and history has been written about Beetles, more that any other car, and for good reason! It truly has a personality that is undeniable.

Just ask Walt Disney!

Prior to his death, he wanted to make a movie about a car with a soul! The story goes that Disney asked his employees to pick a car in the parking lot on their way home. Among the dozen or so “casting cars” chosen, the overwhelming favorite was the Beetle!

My car was named “Alyson” for no other reason that the name just came to me! Alyson the Beetle! She became an extension of me. She was the queen where ever I went! People would start a conversation with me, tourists wanted a picture with her, everyone wanted a ride! She had trouble keeping up with buses but everyone’s eyes were on her!

Alyson was always the star! Among all the Corvettes, Porsches, Alfa Romeos, she out-shined them all! I had one gentleman in a blue Ferrari pull up to me and ask if the car was for sale because his wife sitting next to him wanted the car because the color matched the Ferrari!

A “his” and “hers” in the garage!

She was so beautiful, Alyson was cast in two movies shot locally in Montreal. One movie called “Green without Envy” a Harlequin made for TV romance and the other starring James Brolin (Josh Brolin’s father) called Back Stab.

Alyson was also the car chosen by Eugenio for his wedding, as well as 4 other friends and countless strangers who requested her! As the saying goes…Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue! She was all that!!

My Beetle is the most reliable car ever made! I have replaced the alternator once, brakes pads, spark plugs and oil filter regularly and that’s it!

Since 1985!

For those that are not familiar with Beetles, the engine is air cooled!

There is one belt and fan! That’s it!

I will never sell her!

I have a Mercedes-Benz as my “daily driver”.

A Porsche 911 as my “stress relief” car and

a BMW motorcycle as my “freedom vehicle”!

After owning her for 33 years, she is about to get a heart transplant! Not because she isn’t reliable, on the contrary, her next heart, like the rest of her, will require no maintenance at all! In fact, all I will need to do is change brakes pads!

Alyson, like all cats and Beetles that have nine lives, is going electric!

-Peter Hehn

Peter Hehn has been an automotive enthusiast his whole life. He fell in love with cars at 10 when he first saw a picture of James Dean in a Spyder. Peter also enjoys riding two wheels, motorbikes and bicycles! When not obsessing over “wheels”, he works as a recruitment and branding consultant. He began his career in commercial real estate and is still a managing partner in developing resort properties in Tremblant. He is now obsessing over acquiring a VW Westfalia!

If you want to own your own  Volkswagen Beetle

Fill Out The Form,

and we can help you with In-House Financing!

Contact Us

Comments / Questions