For those of you familiar with Colgate, it has been a long acknowledged fact that his primary (and perhaps sole) redeeming quality was that he was extremely inexpensive to obtain. Back in September of 2010, I found him on Craigslist for $1000 and talked the seller down to $800.

He was kinda beat up, but ran strong. He had some electrical gremlins, but once I took a refresher course in “Ignition switch workaround as effected by application of screwdriver” he always started, got me where I was going, and while utterly unglamourous, was basically quite trusty.

Until about two weeks ago when at a stop light, and for no discernible reason, he stalled. This would have been annoying enough, but paired with the fact that I have to GET OUT OF THE CAR AND GET UNDER THE HOOD TO RESTART HIM it presented an extreme inconvenience at best and a threat to my safety at worst.

At the time, I hoped it was a fluke and carried on with my day. When it happened again earlier this week, I was disconcerted, but still determined to hold out on replacing him until my tax return came in. When it happened again two days later, it was the end of the line for me and the ol’ Toothpastemobile.

So, the scouring of the landscape for my new ride began. I require and demand several important things in an auto; this narrowed the field considerably and immediately:

  • Manual Transmission*: I loathe the automatic transmission. Colgate had one and I almost didn’t buy him on account of it. With the budget I had to work with at the time he was simply too good a deal to pass on, but never in this lifetime will I consent to buy a car without a manual again.
  • Excellent Visibility: Working with only one eye makes the whole problem of a “blind spot” turn into more of a “blind hemisphere.” Most sedans have windows that can be difficult to see out of under the best of circumstances and my wonky eye can hardly be classified as such.
  • Volkswagen: I didn’t even briefly consider another make. I am a enthusiastic adherent to the cult of Volkswagen. Every day since Klaus died I have felt a hollow place inside where my farfegnugen used to be.
  • 2.0 Engine: As much as I loved Klaus, his 1.8 turbo is a notoriously troublesome motor. Talking to my VW guru before purchase, he said the single best thing I could do with the ‘wags is to avoid the turbo.

Only certain models even offer that engine: the Golf, the Jetta, and the Beetle. My first instinct was to try to find a Golf. Apart from the catchy name, it seemed to have a good amount of cargo space and they get excellent mileage. I hadn’t cared for the feel of the Jetta I had driven and worried about the Beetle having enough space to hold my skis.

I went out and drove a Golf and knew almost immediately it wasn’t for me. It handled with disappointing stiffness and lacked the luxurious appointments that I expect from a VW. It also had a shockingly large blind spot. Moving on…

I drove another Jetta, and while it performed better than I recalled, it had a hesitation in the engine that made me nervous. At this point I was curious enough about a Beetle that I wandered the lot looking for one that might suit…

Around the corner; there she was. 



White isn’t naturally a color I would gravitate toward** but somehow she looked sweet tucked back in the corner there. And, she had an all important moon roof. I eyeballed her from a dozen yards away and thought

“There is no way my luck will hold and she’ll be a manual…”

But, oh frabjous day, she was.

We went for a spin and I was immediately taken by the feeling of moving through space in a giant bubble. It was sort of odd, but ultimately pretty enjoyable. More, it was incredibly easy to see out of every angle of this car. It had the handling and appointments I was looking for, and within about ten minutes, I was sure this was the car for me.

My first drive was out Skyline, moon roof open, music blaring, taking corners at speeds much greater than strictly advisable. It was glorious; farfegnugen, regained.

And after some deliberation, her name is Svanja. German, for Swan.



*There is a whole rant in me on this subject, but I’ll save it for another day.

**Unless we are talking about boys, in which case, the pastier the better.