Back in my collegiate years and commuting from the little town of Inglewood to Pepperdine University I found it necessary to purchase a second car. While I was in college my wife drove our only car to her work in Westchester. Necessitating the need for a second car for me. Just a car for reliable transportation and nothing more. One evening we bought such an automobile. Yes, it was basic transportation. A rusty red colored 1958 Volkswagen beetle. Just an engine, four wheels, and a transmission. With a primitive heater and a radio that actually worked. The headliner was a bit ragged but I could live with it. The distinguishing feature of the 58 VW was its tiny oval rear window. Kind of cute. And when I describe it as rusty red I mean mostly red and rust. You couldn’t tell where the red rust color ended and the real rust began. None the less basic transportation.
I would have to admit it was fun to drive. A four-speed stick shift. Fun if only if you are okay with 60-MPH as its top speed. As they say, gutless. One of the fun things driving this ‘Bug’ is its reserve gas tank. There was NO gas gage to warn you of running out of gas. You first noticed running out of gas as the old VW coughed and sputtered and one would quickly have to flip with your right foot a lever just right of the gas pedal to the reserve. A lever used to switch to the reserve tank. And if I couldn’t find it quick enough with my foot I would have to quickly reach down with my hand and flip the lever and hope no one pulls in front of me resulting in a rear end collision or possibly running over a pedestrian. The real trick was to switch it over before the motor completely stopped. Challenging. Most scary.
One day while the Bug was parked out front on the street in front of our apartment some yahoo bumped the rear left fender and left a big dent and quickly left the scene of the accident. Left without a note on the windshield or an apology. Not anything. Sorry Buddy my car got in your way parked at the curb. Some people!
But anyway among some of my possessions was a small air compressor and spray gun. Plus years earlier I had bought, for no known reason, a quart can of black car paint. Then I got to thinking why not paint this rusty bug? I could paint it black with my handy paint sprayer. So I set out for this new experience.
I got a pile of old newspapers and some masking tape and began to cover up all the windows and chrome parts. Leaving only the bare VW rusty body. I did share a garage with my apartment neighbor and mentioned my intention to paint my car. He agreed to leave his car parked out and out of the way of floating paint particles. Smart move.
So I began. Starting with the roof and working my way down to the left front fender. Then to the hood and on to the right front fender and working my way along the right door panel and further back to the panel under the right rear window. Things were looking good. I sprayed back around the rear engine hood and continued on to the left panel under the left rear window and rear fender. Then as I continued on to the left door, I suddenly ran out of black paint. Paint I bought years earlier and forgot where I bought it from. But leaving the left door unpainted. I didn’t want to buy another quart of any old black paint so I went to Sears and bought a spray can of black paint. Then attempted to finish the paint job over the left door. Resulting in what looked like abstract graffiti. I just couldn’t get the spray can to smooth out like the compressor sprayer had done. Looking more like obscene graffiti on a freeway bridge. That’s the way it ended. Come on! It’s basic L. A. transportation. You should see the rolling junkers on the Westside Highway in NYC as well. Fade to mostly black.