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VW Beetle 1200 L report: A VW Beetle on a long journey

Thomas Starck
VW Beetle 1200 L deployed abroad
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E in an inexpensive small car the VW Beetle is a year 1983 hasn't been for a while. Nevertheless, Gerhard Fuß opted for a new model, the 'Aubergine' model with a 1.2-liter machine, 34 hp, and metallic paint. Around 3,300 pieces of the special model built in Mexico will be sold in Germany this year, at a price of almost 9,500 marks. The Beetle was already considered a car for enthusiasts back then, because customers like Fuß could already have bought a high-quality Golf for around 1,000 marks less. But modern cars just don't interest the man, then or now.

The VW Beetle goes everywhere with you

The Beetle fan never even parted with his vehicle when he started his first foreign assignment in 1987 as an employee of the Foreign Office and moves to the Caribbean island of Trinidad for the next four years. But before that, friends quickly baptized the VW with the name Wotan in a party mood: 'I was just able to stop the boys from smashing the bottles on the hull like at a ship's christening,' says Fuss with a smile. Unfortunately, he no longer knows how the name came about.

The travel enthusiast explores the small island state in detail by car. The first of three children is born, and like millions of other fathers before him, Fuß learns to appreciate the nest-like hollow above the engine as the perfect baby bed. 'With the hum of the boxer, the little ones fell asleep immediately over the years on our tours,' he recalls. Feet also remembers the first and so far only significant breakdown of his Beetle. During a trip to the south of Trinidad, the light suddenly dimmed, the official said. 'At some point it was finally over - we just managed to push the car into a workshop.' A defective alternator is located there as a source of error. In the absence of a suitable spare part, a mechanic immediately sets about rewinding the coil with copper wire - by hand. A job that takes a whole day.

Beetle with a traditional Caribbean interior

In Trinidad, Fuß soon begins to give his car a personal touch. He likes the exotic ornate interiors of the Caribbean buses and taxis. For a bottle of rum and the equivalent of around 50 euros, an exception is made once for a privately used vehicleall cladding parts of the interior including the headliner replaced with a fabric cover with reddish wave patterns. 'Even after 20 years it still looks like new,' says Fuß, praising the work of the Caribs. However, it was almost free. When there was an uprising and fighting around the seat of government in Trinidad in 1990, Fuß had to worry about his beetle for three weeks. 'My car was in a parking garage right next to the embattled parliament building, and it was actually clear to me that I would only find a wreck.' Gerhard Fuß still puzzles today about how it could have happened that the VW did not get a scratch.

In 1991 the Beetle fan was transferred to Bulgaria for four years. On the streets of the capital Sofia, his car is immediately one of the exotic ones in traffic: 'At that time I probably owned the only Beetle in the country,' says Fuß. And in retrospect, he seems to be quite happy about the fact that cars from western production were hardly available in the country in the early 1990s. Keyword theft: 'Who steals a car that would attract attention in this country like a sore thumb and not even sell in parts on site?' Fuß assesses the situation at the time in the socialist ruled Bulgaria.

Trip to South Africa

The VW, together with its owner and his family of four, made the trip to South Africa in 1995 at. From that time, Gerhard Fuß remembered the many trips through southern Africa in particular. Child number three is born and traditionally experiences the trips through Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland in the hollow above the engine, while the two older ones share the rear bench over many thousand kilometers of slopes. To protect the children, Fuß provided the rear window with a sun visor, which, like almost all modifications, is still there today. 'It actually keeps the interior a few degrees cooler,' the travel fan knows from experience.

Emergency equipment with folding spades, ax and signal flares has also been in the Beetle's trunk since Africa. Two full petrol cans ensure mobility if necessary, and four additional headlights illuminate the desert, a forest path or a courtyard entrance at night. After the time in southern Africa, at the latest, Fuß values ​​his car as a reliable motorhome. On the spare parts list, even on long journeys away from civilization, there were hardly more items than a roll of wire, a few screws and a V-belt. Only once did the officer not take his Beetle with him to the country where he was being transferred at the end of the 90s: 'In Bosnia and Herzegovina, I would actually have been afraid for my car,' explains Fuß, who in any case prefers the bus in the respective capitals , Subway or bike rides and from Sarajevothis time no major trips planned either.


With the VW Beetle to Lake Titicaca

But that looks quite good again in the next stop different: Gerhard Fuß moved to Peru from 2003 to 2007 and chased his Beetle from Lima down to Chile into the bone-dry Atacama Desert or over a 4,500 meter high Andean pass to get to Lake Titicaca. 'There it was only possible to progress in the first two courses,' recalls the owner. He estimates that the boxer only had a maximum of 15 to 20 hp due to the oxygen-poor mountain air. During this time the beetle sustained permanent damage, which was not due to adventurous travel activities on foot, but to the carelessness of a golfer in Lima. The hard hit ball hits the VW with full force at the upper end of the C-pillar and leaves a juicy dent. Gerhard Fuß never had this damage repaired, he sees it more as a reminder of his time with this car in South America.

He also leaves the interior decorated with small plastic figures, various trailers and countless stickers unchanged. 'Most of it comes from my children, who practically grew up in this car,' says Fuß, who were strictly forbidden from selling the Beetle. Gerhard Fuß of course adheres to it. He has just moved into a new home for the next four years with his car, which has a mileage of around 165,000: Istanbul.

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