Google+ Rurousha 流浪者: James Bond, I hate you. You kill Beetles.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

James Bond, I hate you. You kill Beetles.

James Bond, I hate you. How dare you destroy Beetles? Beetles?! The cutest car in the world? Ag nee man. (A literal translation of that Afrikaans phrase would be "oh no man". It's mostly used as an expression of irritation, but it's also an indication of resignation or sympathy.)


I recently saw the movie Skyfall. I'm not a particular James Bond fan – I vaguely recall seeing a Pierce Brosnan movie set in North Korea a few years ago – but I figured a buff Daniel Craig might be a better Christmas Eve option than a metabo Santa Claus. So off I went.

I enjoyed it, decided yet again that London is a great city, marvelled at Scotland's rugged beauty and thanked my lucky stars that I don't have to travel on London's Underground every day. (Are the trains and platforms really that narrow and that crowded? I can't recall.)

However! James Bond kills Beetles! He crushes several Beetles with a backhoe while pursuing a baddie on the roof of a train in Turkey. You can see it in this video if you fast forward to 2:54.


I cringed when I saw that. When I lived in South Africa, I used to have a Volkswagen New Beetle called Hobbit. No, it wasn't just a nickname, it was his official name, as in his registered personalised number plate. I still have it. Here it is:


I first saw a New Beetle in the late 1990s in San Francisco (isn't that the perfect Beetle location?), and it was love at first sight. I had to wait a while before the car was introduced in South Africa, but my name was on a waiting list and I had one of the first New Beetles in Africa. Fact. It was so new in those days that people involuntarily stopped or swung around to look at it, and I received so many spontaneous grins, hallos, waves and "nice car" comments.

My obsession was widely known. I was working at a television company in those years, and our advertising agency decided to surprise me with a birth notice in the classifieds of Jo'burg's biggest English daily when I finally collected my car. He also, in his lifetime, featured as a prop in a few television shows. That – coupled with his number plate and the fame of The Fellowship of the Ring, which was released in 2001 – made him famous.

I had to sell him when I moved to Japan.

When I went to a Volkswagen dealership to drop Hobbit off, my friend Vox (nicknamed after the Latin phrase vox populi) followed me in his own car so that he could drive me home again. I handed Hobbit over, walked to Vox's car, sat down in the passenger seat … and finally lost it, for the first time since my decision to leave home. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was heart-broken and sobbing like a child.

Vox sat next to me, waiting quietly. He's very good with goodbyes. That's why he always gives me a lift to the airport at the end of my South African holidays.

Then he offered me a small pack. "Cigarette?" he wryly asked this ardent, very vocal non-smoker.

That made me laugh, so there I was, a snot-nosed sobbing laughing exhausted wreck.

I miss Hobbit. I miss Vox. I miss …

Ah well.

Here's Hobbit, but unfortunately you can't see his number plates in this photo.


That was my yellow house, which I called Die Piesangpaleis or The Banana Palace for obvious reasons: it was yellow, it was in a banana republic and a banana tree grew next to the front door. I'd already lived in that house for a while when I first learned that Japan's beloved poet Bashō named himself after a banana tree that his students had planted at his house in Fukagawa.

That's yours truly in front of the house. Whenever I see this photo, I start laughing. Look at my pigeon-toed pose! Dear heavens, I was clearly meant for Japan.

I remain hyper-aware of Beetles. I spotted this one at a temple in Nishi-Sugamo a few days ago. Now is this ultra-cool or what? A Beetle, a temple and a tree. Happiness.

70 comments:

  1. You tend to see a lot of new Beetles in Japan as they are into cute cars. Mitsubishi were big news today with all their shenanigans and recalls. Just watched You Only Live Twice a few days ago with the original Bond, Sean Connery. Got to get me a Toyota 2000GT!!

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    1. I wouldn't mind that Aston Martin DB5 that Bond drives in Skyfall either, but ... I will remain loyal to my beloved Beetles! ^^

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    2. The Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger is probably my all time favourite. Good to see Mr Bond back in an Aston after his BMW faze!

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    3. That BMW phase? That was sacrilege! Bond in a German car? Nooo!

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  2. Love VW in general. I used to have a Passat. I handed it over to my mom when I moved to Japan. Great car, though.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. VW is VERY popular in South Africa, especially Golfs. I think they're called Rabbits in the USA?

      PS: I guess if I want to call myself a nomad, I should actually prefer a VW Touareg ...

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    2. The Rabbit name was used on only a couple generations of golf. It is still called the golf, or the powerful version GTi. Technically Golf GTi, but everyone just says GTi.

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    3. GTi? I had one! Metallic dark blue. His name was Satchmo. ^^

      Delete
  3. When I was a child (in the 60's)our family car was a beetle. When our family grew to 6 people we were still squeezing into the beetle, but when my youngest sister came along, our family of 7 could no longer fit, so we bought a stationwagon. haha

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    1. This brings back even more memories! My parents also had a Beetle that all five of us - mom, dad, three sisters - plus dog plus luggage squeezed into for holidays. Eventually my father hands-upped, and then we had a Peugeot and then a Mercedes.

      Those were the days. We always stopped for "padkos", literally road food, i.e. a roadside picnic. ^^

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  4. Ag nee man! Cool learned a new Afrikaans expression today. Anyway hate his mission not d'man himself haha. Looking at the brighter beetle side its good publicity for VW as everybody would be talking about it just like what you did here haha. Can understand how you feel Bananaz would be even crazier talking to his car. Oh a beetle, yellow house, banana tree. Bananaz going bananas.

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    1. Ideally you should click your tongue - kinda go "tsg" - before you say "ag nee man". Then you sound REALLY irritable. :D

      Yes, that house is just made for you, isn't it?! It was a really nice house with a big garden at the back and a small mountain brook running past it.

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  5. Nothing wrong with squashing a few bugs. ;P

    I'm just kidding. I know what you mean by having a love affair with a vehicle. My first car was an old Benz. Lowered to the floor and only power-assist steering. Was hard to turn but drove really well. Then came the main car I had. A POS Suzuki Sidekick. I beat it up a lot, but it was trustworthy enough. I'm still partial to bikes, and still miss my first (and second) bike ever. I loved it and still do. I wish I had one here though.

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    1. I played the field with several Golfs (including a Gti) [what a great car!] before Hobbit changed me into a one-car woman! ;)

      That Suzuki is a four-wheel drive? They're great little cars! I've gone bundu-bashing in SA in a friend's car. ^^

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    2. Yup, that Suzuki was 4 wheel drive. Not really useful in the city though. I did take it up a logging road once. It was pretty fun. I'm not a 2 wheel kinda guy. No good cars for me anymore.

      Watched a video of Ewan McGregor and his buddy riding motorcycles in Africa. That's cool but I could never do it. I'd want a car for sure.

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    3. Was your Suzuki similar to my friend's car? You can see a photo of her red Suzuki Jimny here:

      http://rurousha.blogspot.jp/2011/09/memories-of-groot-marico.html

      Motorbike in Africa? Err. No. As far as I'm concerned, there's only vehicle I'd trust on Africa's worst roads, and that's a Land Rover Defender.

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    4. I had the bigger brother of the Jimmy. The Sidekick. Also known as the Vitara, Grand Vitara, and Escudo.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_Escudo

      I really don't like it anymore as it is too related to GM products. Quality was not as good as other Japanese cars. I'm more into Honda for trusty runabouts now.

      They did it by motorbike. It wasn't easy, but they did it.

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    5. My dad used to own a Jimny. He used it to drive into the deep forest between the state of Pahang & Perak and buy & sell stuff to/from the aboriginals there.

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    6. I'm falling behind with replies. Gallivanting too much. Chotto matte, kudasai, I'll get to everybody! ^^ I'll be back!

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    7. Dru, aha, gotcha. It's called the Suzuki Vitara in SA. (Why do car manufactures change car names for different countries? Why is a Toyota Vitz a Toyota Yaris outside Japan? I think Vitz is a cuter name anyway. Hmph.)

      Before I came to Japan, I had a Peugeot 305, a Ford Fiesta, a Golf, a Golf GTi and then Hobbit. That American car was a disaster. Never ever again.

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    8. Lina, I fell in love with my friends Jimny. Small but plucky! Did you go with your dad?

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    9. I agree, it is annoying when they change the name for each market, but they do it a lot for marketing. Different markets have different naming expectations. A Vitz VS Yaris VS Echo. All have different feels depending on the market. Plus, sometimes car names have different meanings depending on the market too.

      Although I don't know if a Peugeot 305 would have a problem in other markets...

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  6. I agree that Beetle Cars are cute and cool. They are so expensive in my country that most people will not have the budget to buy it as a fun car.

    Your yellow house is so neat and nice like a toy home! Reminds me of these neat homes lining along the streets of San Francisco.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes, Beetles are expensive, but they're sporty, sexy and powerful. That combination always costs! ;)

      That yellow house was a great house in a great location. I had 250 square meters to myself. Now, in Tokyo, barely 50. Sigh.

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  7. I'll choose to comment differently,..hmm.
    I have a question to you Sensei,.
    Do you have any idea of what might cause the mighty-hard to die-James Bond to pass away in the last-anticlimax-episode ? The hint would be your post-Sarah!Tokugawa!:D

    And by the way I want to continue your statement of missing things.
    I miss Hobbit.I mis Vox.I miss ..home..and can't believe that I miss those maniacs -mini bus taxi drivers:D

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Tokugawa has a clue for James Bond? (@_@) Dunno! More clues, please!

      I don't miss South Africa as a country - too much crime, too much corruption - but I do miss certain aspects of its culture and of my previous life and ... yes ... I do miss its chaos at times!

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    2. I'll give you the answer instead, but beforehand I would like to say herein that it's merely a joke, I don't mean to offend any of Bond's fans..jeng jeng jeng..and the answer is..He would likely to die from STD,it's possible right since he changes mate all the time..see,like that of Tokugawa who had 19 wives:)..ironic and tragic-the sequel ends up in anticlimax.:D

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    3. If Bond has a cyanide capsule in his tooth, perhaps he always has a condom in his pocket! :p

      PS: Jeng jeng jeng? That's supposed to indicate a moment of suspense in a movie? That's what Google tells me.

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    4. Maybe, and maybe he has the latest sophisticated one, but..he could be forget not to take it out from his pocket:D See I don't run out of excuse either:p

      Yup, but it can also be used in daily life:)

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    5. Bond forgets?! I thought only absent-minded middle-aged teacher types did that. :D

      I've started making a list of words that readers from other countries have taught me. "Jeng jeng jeng" has been added to that list!

      Delete
  8. I hate James Bond too. They're such stupid, macho films. Give me a romcom any day!

    Beetles are cute cars, but I personally prefer Morris Minors. Especially this one http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3215/3086102299_d91edb9488.jpg Once they'd made a million cars, they made 150 special purple ones. My Dad has one and they're so cute.

    Do you play punch buggy? Or is that just an English thing? Like 'yellow car', when you see a beetle the first person to notice it can hit the other one while saying 'punch buggy'. It's stupid but me and my brother used to have fun with it when we were little!!

    PS - London trains really are that awful.
    PPS - Merry Christmas!!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Ooo. Beetle vs Morris Minor? That's almost as serious as the great divide between Apple and Android! :p

      Despite my Beetle obsession, though, I readily concur that that old Morris is beautiful. Purple? Love it.

      I don't know punch buggy. We used to play "I spy" and some number plates game that I can't remember exactly. When the three sisters got bored in the back seat, we started punching each other without noticing anything first! :p

      PS: I should stop complaining about rush hour in Tokyo.

      PPS: Merry ... I'm a bit late for Xmas ... how about Easter? ^^

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  9. Still mourning my Mazda MX5! I had to give it up for all the usual sensible reasons; I couldn't fit shopping into the boot, I couldn't fit the dog into the front, it couldn't cope with ice on the roads....

    Right decision. Still regret it.

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    1. You had an MX5? Sexy!

      PS: I've made many right decisions that I still regret. Sigh. I've also made wrong ones that I've nevertheless enjoyed very much! :p

      Delete
  10. I don't have a car, because parking is incredibly expensive in Tokyo, but my wife love VW Beetle, and when she find Beetle in a street, she shout "little froggy (カエルちゃん)!" Her favorite is lime green one.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. There are three reasons IMO why it's better NOT to have a car in Tokyo:

      1) excellent public transport,
      2) hideously expensive parking, and
      3) super-scary mamacharis that think all roads (and pavements!) belong to them!

      カエルちゃん? Cute name! ^^

      PS: I think blue is best!

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    2. Give me YELLOW!

      Or anything that'll hurt the eyes of onllokers. Hahaha

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    3. Yellow for flowers, blue or red for car!

      PS: I thought you only did pink? :p

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  11. Beetle? A super cute car (I wish to own it some day)!

    Beetle by the name of Hobbit? Cuteness overload!!

    My dad used to have an old 2-door mini cooper and he would get me confined at the back seat, hah! When he sold the car, I cried bucket for days. I was only 8 years old and I hearted that car so much. My sister loved that car, too and she refused to "accept" the replaced Nissan 120Y my dad bought later. LOL!

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    1. Ru has a custom plate number. She's rolling! ;)

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    2. Yvonne, our old family Beetles had two doors, too, so the squabbling sisters were trapped at the back! ^^

      Some cars definitely have more personality than others. As a matter of fact, I think that's one of the strengths of European cars in general. Japanese cars may be better value for money, but European cars are sexier.

      PS: Oops. Is my last statement akin to blasphemy? :)

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    3. Lina, Ru *was* rolling in those days. Now she's but a humble underpaid pedagogue with a rusty mamachari. :)

      Delete
  12. I have yet to watch Skyfall. Bond movies usually use BMW cars, they changed to VW? Hmmm....

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    1. Bond is driving British cars again, as he should be. The Beetles only featured as victims in one scene in this particular film.

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  13. I was thinking, "wow, she has amazing eyesight!" when I suddenly realised you meant VW Beetles. Duh. Maybe I need another cup of coffee. I hate seeing things crushed. If it is any consolation it was probably a stunt car and not a real one.
    I used to see many of the original Beetles when I was a kid in Germany. They were fabulously uncomfortable to ride in and looked vaguely sinister to me but they have now been transformed into much more cute and lovable creatures (like Mickey Mouse over the years) and I am now even considering getting one myself. I like cars which are small and not too complicated, well built and distinctive. Not so easy to find these days.

    The banana palace and Hobbit make a good picture - gorgeous bright colours.

    Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. "They were fabulously uncomfortable to ride in." That made me chortle! YES! Ugly, slow, uncomfortable ... and irresistible. Their biggest advantage: they just kept going. Even when they developed mechanical problems, it was relatively easy to fix.

      That's unlike today's Volkswagens, which are notorious for electronic glitches. Hobbit had his share: his right window refused to go down, then his petrol tank cap refused to open (that caused a bit of a kerfuffle), then he had a serious problem with his satellite tracking system* that kept draining his battery.

      (* South African insurance companies refuse to insure more expensive cars unless they have a satellite tracking system. Car theft/hijacking is just too common in South Africa.)

      So Hobbit had his faults. I still loved him.

      PS: I'm also useless without at least two cups of coffee. :)

      Delete
  14. Piesangpaleis = Banana Palace, huh?

    Well, piesang sounds like "pisang" in Malay which means banana obviously :)

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    1. Ja, the Afrikaans "piesang" is based on the Malay "pisang"! Blame the Dutch and the spice trade! :D

      Delete
  15. Hi! Beetle looks like good. I tried to buy a Volvo car. I had a test ride with a sales staff. He said to me. "This car has a good air conditioner, because the conditioner is made in Japan"
    Then I gave up to buy a imported car.

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    1. That's a funny story! ^^

      If I ever had to buy a car again, I'd buy a Toyota iQ if I lived in Tokyo, or a Toyota Vitz if I lived in my dream house in Yamanashi.

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  16. I've only started regularly driving a car recently, and I can now understand why people get so deeply attached to them. Yours looks adorable! Especially how it almost looks like it's photobombing your photo. XD

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    1. You're right: Hobbit is photobombing my photo! I never thought of that!

      I've often wondered why people get so attached to their cars, but it's probably because we buy a car at least partly because it reflects our personality.

      Have fun, buckle up and drive carefully! ^^

      Delete
  17. I read your post not long after reading this at work and the parallel made me laugh...

    My first car was what my father disparagingly referred to as a bike engine in car's clothing, a Pontiac Firefly. It had been my grandmother's car which she sold to me for one dollar (legally easier than giving it to me, she insisted I pay her the one dollar, then turned around and gave me $20 for gas!) when she could no longer drive. It wasn't much of a car, but it was my first (and to this day my only, actually, given my own nomadic ways) car and I loved the freedom that it meant. I left it at home with my dad when I went off to university and would drive it in the summer time, my itty bitty white car with a big huge red kayak on top. I was heart broken to hear that my dad had loaned it to friends of his and it had died on them so it had been scrapped. No consultation with me, no chance for me to say goodbye... sniffle!

    Have you ever told the hero you gave up the Hobbit for him? ;)

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    1. Beetle archives? I'd love to read a bit of that!

      I had to Google images of a Pontiac Firefly. (American cars aren't well known in Africa. We remain loyal to the products of our erstwhile colonial overlords.) Cute little car! Also a hatchback with only two doors!

      I love that story about one dollar for the car, twenty dollars for the petrol.

      Petrol, Sarah, petrol. Not gas. :D

      PS: Did I tell The Hero about Hobbit? Never mind that! I had to tell Hobbit about The Hero!

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    2. The Firefly was apparently sold under a number of different names elsewhere - I knew about the Geo Metro, but according to http://www.pontiacfirefly.com/ it was also the Suzuki Swift, the Firefly name being sold only in Canada and the Middle East. And since it was a joint venture between GM Canada and Suzuki that makes it a CANADIAN car and not an American one, which I hadn't known before! (I knew I loved that car, now I know another reason why!)

      Oh, and mine was a four door (or five if you count the hatch back). Like this one: http://www.cargurus.com/Cars/1991-Pontiac-Firefly-Overview-c12613

      My grandmother made a fuss about that as she often drove about her older friends and didn't think frail little old ladies should be scrambling about over seats. So four doors it was! But only four seatbelts!

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    3. Four doors? That's very mature! :D

      Suzuki? You mean our - as in our adopted country - as in Japan - our Suzuki? If it's a joint Canadian-Japanese venture, then clearly it's just as culturally confused as you are, so it makes perfect sense that it's the perfect car for you.

      If you ask me, the perfect car for alleged frail little old ladies is a Sherman tank.

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  18. When I was small, our beetle car was called "kereta kodok" trans : toad car. ^^

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    1. Toad car? Awww. I never associated Beetles with frogs or toads, but after Yagian and you commented on it, I can see the resemblance.

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  19. No Beetles for me thanks. I'm more of a Mini fan. Zaini is also rather a fan of kei cars. :)

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    1. Mini? Hmph. >:(

      Kei cars are cute, and the only car I'd ever consider in Tokyo. ^^

      Delete
  20. A rare glimpse of Ru for public consumption!

    Love the house! :)

    And she left all those and went to Japan. L.O.V.E is a powerful thing.

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    1. Yes, a rare photo, but taken from a safe distance. :)

      PS: Love? Heh. I refer to this whole adventure as middle-aged madness. :D

      Delete
  21. That's a cute car! You'd been cutified before Japan. It was your destiny. All the signs are there ;)

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    1. Uh-oh. I fear, m'lady, that I can't argue against such irrefutable evidence! ;)

      Delete
  22. I too am a sucker for Beetles. I test drove a new one once upon a time. I have had an old one once upon a time. I never felt I was a VW person, but when I look back...most of my cars have been VWs. They are adorable. I always notice the older cars here more. They seem so rare here but so common in my home town. One of my students was telling me about "classic" cars. He means the 1990s. I use the term with cars that were made before I was born. A little different time frame.

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    1. I've also noticed that: no jalopies in Japan! I've heard it's because it's very expensive to insure an old(er) car.

      Where I come from, we drive cars until they're so old that we don't even insure them anymore. We hope that somebody will steal them, but thieves aren't that stupid! :D

      I was curious, so I checked. The Classic Car Club of America defines a classic car as between 20 and 40 years old. If it's older than that, it's an antique.

      I guess I'm an antique, then! :D

      Delete
  23. This ought to be the best named car in the world! Isn't that Candice twin sister, by the way, next to the car? ;-P

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    1. Slightly older twin sister. :p

      Oh, yes, Hobbit was quite famous in his heyday. He was one of the first New Beetles in South Africa (I'm not exaggerating), and he turned heads. He made everybody smile. Most of all his driver. Damnit I miss him. :(

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    2. Oh. I said most of that in the post itself. Ah well. We have an Afrikaans saying "wat die hart van vol is, loop die mond van oor", i.e. if you love something, you tend to talk about it.

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