Lifted Volkswagen Bus
Story Written 2002
He was a car, but he was like a close friend. I learned a lot about him and myself while driving around. Harvey was the first car I ever owned. I was a delivery boy for Kentucky Fried Chicken, and I needed a car of my own. I remembered the Volkswagen Bus driven in Back To The Future by the Libyan Terrorists, and I thought to myself, "Yeah!" I could see myself delivering chicken in a dumb old VW Bus with the delivery sign way up on the front of the roof. Besides, you can't be a real musician without owning a Volkswagen. (I'm no hippie, I'm a goofball.)
So I started saving up tip money, and after two months I bought a '70 VW Bus for $900. I named it Harvey the Pooka, after the seven foot tall bunny in an old Jimmy Stewart movie. That name also matched Herbie the Love Bug. Since Harvey was a bus, he was a daddy bug. Harvey was the perfect car for me. It was such a goofy lookin' vehicle. We had good karma together. I came up with so many creative ideas driving around in it delivering chicken. There was a lot of creative energy between us; ideas for bumper stickers like: "Do Not Tailgate. Bumper Is Rigged To Fall Off." "Fire Extinguisher Inside Engine Compartment." "If This Car Is Passing You, You're A Wiener!"
I put a six hundred watt amplifier and a six speaker stereo system into Harvey so I could pump some video game tunes. Later I added a television and stereo VCR so I could watch TV while I drove delivery. I even had the Super Nintendo hooked up in it at one time!
I really loved that car. I loved the smiling faces of people on the road as they drove past me. I loved how kids would flock around when I pulled up with a delivery. The kids loved Harvey too. I loved how the engine was in the back, and that the only weight on the front tires was me. So whenever I hit a good bump or dip, I could pop a wheelie and get some air. I loved taking Harvey off road and driving over motor cross hills.
The old Volkswagens were such light, dinky cars. When the Chevy commercial says, "Chevy, Like A Rock," I say, "Volkswagen, Like A Cardboard Box." Volkswagens are the closest thing you can get to legally driving a go-cart on city streets.
I had some great times in that car. Finally I decided to put a lift kit and big truck tires on Harvey. None of the factory made kits for the bus were high enough for me. So I designed my own (using seat-of-your-pants geometry.) After I had what I wanted written down on paper, I went to a metal salvage yard and looked for scrap metal pieces that fit what I needed. Harvey was out of commission for about a year and a half, but I put my home made lift kit on myself. The bus had been lifted nine and a half inches! All he needed were the tires, but I didn't have enough money to get them right away. I finally got the car running right and did a couple of test drives with the original tires. What a monstrosity! While rolling through town, I found myself driving next to a semi. I looked over at the truck driver and I realized that I wasn't looking up to see him. My seat was as high as his, and my eyes were looking right into his eyes...
Unfortunately, I was never able to finish Harvey. We moved twenty five miles from Northglenn to Littleton. Yep, I drove that car down I-25 at fifty to sixty miles and hour! I parked the car in the parking lot of the apartment complex that we moved into. I got several angry phone calls from the yuppies in Highlands Ranch who didn't like how Harvey looked. Finally I got a notice from the Home Owners Association that if I didn't move my car off the property, it would be towed. I frantically checked everywhere I could think of to park Harvey, but no one would take him. I didn't have money to finish the work he needed or rent a garage. Harvey was too big to fit in our garage in the complex. I was busy with my first year of college. I had two choices: sell Harvey, or let him get towed which would cost me money. I had only one week to advertise, but no one made an offer. So with a heavy heart, I drove Harvey to the VW repair shop and dealer where I bought him from. They said they'd have to send him to the crusher. They gave me fifty bucks for him. Letting go and walking away was one of the most emotionally difficult things I've had to do. Ya, I've had a hard life. I spent the fifty dollars on a pair of pants.
I knew I was getting into trouble trying to put a lift on a Bus. But its what I had originally envisioned for that car; even before I bought it. It didn't seem right to me that the windows were lower than my face when I stood outside of it. Later, I discovered the Pinzgauer. Its a cross between a Hummer and a VW Bus. Its Austrian made and it comes with huge truck tires! So that's what I'll do next time, is buy one of those. But they're expensive! $9000 or so.
Harvey enabled me to bring out the freest expression of myself. He helped me know more about myself and appreciate myself. I'll never forget that car. Like they say, "You never forget your first."
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