I’ve owned just a few of cars over the years:
- 1985-1986: A rusted out yellow 1974 VW Super Beetle I got from my brother-in-law
- 1986-1988: A copper 1980 Honda Accord LX
- 1997-1999: A black 1997 VW Golf GL
- 2000-2007: A silver VW GTI VR6 GLX
- 2003-2005: A black 1995 VW Passat GLX
- 2006-2007: A dark silver 2003 Mini Cooper S
- 2007-?: A candy white 2008 VW R32 (on order)
Of those 7, 5 have been VWs… Initially it was just ’cause I needed a cheap car and my brother-in-law had one, but now it’s a lot more than that…
The 1980 Honda we bought used and it was a nightmare. I was in college in Austin and the thing kept breaking down and it was out of warranty and the repairs were expensive and my parents just didn’t understand how much of my money the car was eating up… When someone rear ended me while I was sitting at a red light and the car was totaled I was actually pretty happy not to have the expense of a car.
After that bad experience I wasn’t exactly running back to Japanese cars even though my parents had always had good luck with Toyotas. The ’97 Golf I bought ’cause I wanted an inexpensive car that looked decent… I test drove the Golf and a Jeep Wrangler and the Golf was a lot more fun to drive, so I got it. I liked the car well enough that I was pretty sure my next car would be a VW…
Then Ellen DeGeneres came out on TV. You might not think that it would have an impact on car buying, but for gay men (like me) it definitely did. Ellen’s coming out was a huge deal. Gay people didn’t have the visibility back then that they do now and advertisers were scared and started pulling their ads from her show.
So what did VW do? They took the spot right after her character came out and started a new ad campaign with the following ad:
The straight world didn’t really think too much about it, but gay men and lesbians took notice. It wasn’t enough to get lesbians away from Subaru (who’s had the lesbian icon Martina Navratilova as their spokesperson), but it solidified gay men’s love for VW.
Yes, there are bumps along the road, like when a sales guy from Potamkin (the VW dealer in Manhattan) woke me up one morning and proceeded to call me a “fucking faggot” and then hang up on me after I told him I didn’t think much of his dealership because when I tried to buy the Golf from them in ’97 they refused to tell me the details of the financing until after I had signed the document to purchase the car (VW customer service had the sales manager at Potamkin call me to apologize for the sales guys comments).
And we’ve had at least one really frustrating problem with our GTI – a plastic part in the door kept breaking which would drop the window into the door meaning the car wasn’t wasn’t secure and couldn’t be left in anything other than an attended garage. It happened 3 or 4 times and was always hugely inconvenient. They did eventually figure out how to fix it and it hasn’t been a problem since.
And the Passat we never should have bought… It had constant problems and they were really expensive to fix. We would have spent less if we had bought a new car. But what I didn’t appreciate at the time was how hard of a life it had had – which isn’t something I can hold against VW.
But all in all I love VW. The design of their cars is still pretty good (though not always the best), and I like the level of fit and finish, and I feel like you get a really solid car for the money.
And of course the R32 is just special… It’s going to be a blast to own and if anything serious ever happens to it (knock wood), I’ll be really upset.