“The daughter won't let me drive her to school in it,” says Stu Forster. “Not cool.”
Which is understandable, because ‘it' would stand out awkwardly amongst all the SUVs, 4WDs, people movers and shopping baskets at the school gates. On the other hand, Stu's young son can't wait to learn to drive in ‘it'.
‘It' is a bright blue VW beach buggy. It doesn't look like a VW, but unmistakably sounds like a VW, so it must be a VW.
And while not cool at school, Stu Foster's ‘it' will be hot at the Bay of Plenty Volkswagen Owners Club annual showcase event Run to the Sun – now a three-day event starting when the cars gather on the evening of Thursday, February 15.
At least 65 VWs – Kombies, Beetles and beach buggies – plus a whole lot of VW devotees, families and “day trippers” from the likes of Hamilton are expected for a weekend of showing and yapping about life and Volkswagens. But mainly Volkswagens.
And they hole up en masse for the weekend at the Mount Maunganui camp ground.
“No-one is out there doing skids and da-de-da – we chat and have a beer and the kids do what kids like doing,” says Stu. “Yes, VWs are the common bond, but that's not the end of it.”
When Stu was a 15-year-old living in Papakura, his older brother owned a VW beach buggy. “A bright yellow one. It was pretty cool cruising around in that.” Stu probably didn't know it at the time, but he was hooked, and there's no antedote. A 20-plus year love affair with Hitler's “people's car” began. And it looks like the affair will endure.
Stu's buggy is not a pretty car. It's also loud. This probably accounts for the inscription on the bodywork – loud pipes save lives. How does an unseemly loud exhaust system save lives? “It's not very aerodynamic either. Gets blown about by the wind, but you aren't going fast anyway.”
It could sit comfortably, and very loudly, on 150 km/ph. But to reassure any pesky cops, Stu insists he cruises at 80 km/ph in the buggy and pulls over when he needs to let faster traffic past.
Stu's first VW was a 1966 Beetle, bright yellow. Wife Cheryl hated the colour. “So we flogged it off.” Then he saw the beach buggy on Trade Me and just had to have it. Stu, his brother and $7000 made their way to Lawrence, just outside Dunedin, and they drove the buggy, minus the money, home over two days. “I saw another buggy on Trade Me recently for $17,000. Mine would be worth $12,000 to $15,000 max. They don't appreciate like Beetles and Kombies.” Case in point – one guy in the club is reported to have paid $80,000 for his Kombie. That's a decent deposit on a modest house.
Now the Fosters also have a 1961 Volkswagen Beetle – a blue one. “It's my wife's car, she loves it, drives it everywhere and anywhere.” But what's hers is his. “When she's not around, it's my car.”
This year the Volkswagen Owners Club has sponsors on board – like PlaceMakers Mount Maunganui, Stu's employer Bostik NZ, CRC and Holmes Industrial Supplies. They're putting up a swag of prizes for the club's Show and Shine event on Saturday, February 17, at the Phoenix carpark in Mount Maunganui.
There's another inscription on Stu Forster's bright blue VW beach buggy – it says ‘peace, love and v-dubs'. There will be oodles of all three at Run to the Sun. For more information go to the Run to the Sun 2018 Facebook page.