From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Runaway Beetle: A True Story of the VW Autostick

All In The Family... Life In Missouri...



During our second residence in Missouri (1982-1986), Dennis and I owned a couple of VW Beetles. Our old yellow Beetle had formerly belonged to my mother-in-law. In fact, it was the car in which she learned to drive after all the kids grew up and left home.

It had an Autostick, a curious semi-automatic transmission. The gear shifter was on the floor in the usual place between driver and passenger. As I recall, the shifter had five possible positions, all in a straight line:

R
N
L
1
2

To drive forward, you put the car into Low, and then as you picked up speed, you let up on the gas a little and shifted into First, and finally into Second. There was no foot clutch to operate; that happened automatically when you moved the shifter.

One thing you had to remember was to apply the parking brake when you left the driver's seat. The transmission didn't have a Park position, and the car would roll in any gear.

One afternoon, I came home from shopping with our friend Brent. I parked the yellow Bug in the driveway, and we got out. As we stood on the front step unlocking the door, I heard a crunch of gravel. The car was rolling. I had forgotten to set the brake.

Our driveway had only a slight incline -- until it curved around behind our house. Then the backyard took a definite downhill slant. So the car rolled slowly at first, but it picked up speed as I ran after it.

I caught up with the car as it left the driveway and started downhill across the lawn, and I finally got the door open as it went under the clothesline.

By the time I got inside the car enough to get my foot on the brake, it had crossed the alley and was headed for someone's back porch.

I backed the Bug out of the flower bed where it had finally stopped, drove out of the alley, parked again in the driveway and APPLIED THE PARKING BRAKE!

Brent had been watching all of this with a mixture of awed amazement and amusement.

"Do that often?" he asked.

4 comments:

Mrs. Mom said...

Hi, I have linked to your blog for ages, but I don't know that I have ever posted a comment on your blog. I find your posts entertaining to read.

I have passed the Rockin' Girl Blogger award on to you. You can pick up the graphic on my website: http://lilbitgabby.com/lilbits/

~Cyndi

Genevieve said...

Cyndi, I'm very honored to be one of your nominees. Thank you so much. It absolutely made my day.

Bookwus said...

Hiya Genevieve,

I've been living with a VW Bug AutoStick for more years than I care to recall. Dependable little guys if they are maintained.

Your entry was, to say the least, amusing. Glad to see you caught up with your runaway bug before he "remodeled" the neighbors porch.

With respect to the gearshift pattern, memories can be a tricky thing. In actuality all AutoStick shift patterns were built on the typical "H" gearshift pattern. Here's a memory jogger....do you recall having to press down on the gearshift knob in order to engage reverse? Or making sure that you did not rest your hand on the gearshift knob while underway?

So, whatever happened to your AutoStick with itchy feet?

Genevieve said...

My husband got a different job and was given a company car to drive, so we sold the little yellow VW and kept the orange VW Super Beetle which we also owned at the time.

The yellow VW needed a new master cylinder on the brakes, but the guy who bought it fixed it up and drove it for a couple years while going to graduate school. I don't know what happened to it after that.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

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