I almost knew what hit me.
It was 1974 and I was driving a 1962 VW Beetle. It was great. It had only 18,000 original miles on it since it had been driven by a little old lady who only used it to get groceries once a week. It needed a little work, but nothing major and I spent the previous winter going over every inch of it. I took out the interior and cleaned everything. There was no rust to worry about and the battery just needed to be cleaned up a bit. I put back the rubber carpet and the seats, but left off the seat belts so I could update them later.
I rubbed out the paint until it sparkled and cleaned up the engine compartment until it looked like new. I took off the chrome bumpers and polished them until they gleamed. I changed out the original shock absorbers for some inverted racing shocks made in France. Then I put a camber compensator on the rear swing axles so they couldn’t tuck under. A larger front anti-roll bar was fitted to the front torsion suspension. Later I was going to get some wider chrome wheels and fit some wider tires, but that could wait. It wasn’t fast, but it handled very well.
I also had a 1971 Super Beetle that I had heavily modified. It had a modified engine to go along with many suspension modifications. It was quite a beast, but I decided to take the ’62 bug to work that day.
I had started a small offset printing business a year or two before. It was doing well and I was learning a lot. My client base had built up to a good size and I made enough money to pay for my car addiction.
That morning was a typical cool summer morning on Cape Cod. The windows on the bug were fogged up so I ran the defroster for all it was worth. In an air cooled VW that was not much, but it did clear the windshield so I cranked down the driver’s window as I drove to my shop.
It was early but I decided to drive over to a customers business to check to see if they were in. I wanted to collect for a job I had done. No one was at their building so I headed on to my place of business.
I pulled up to route 28 taking a right onto it from the parking lot. I looked back down the road and checked my mirror. I pulled on to the road. Not far ahead was an intersection with a traffic light where I would have to turn left to get to my shop. I signaled and gave up on trying to see anything out the rear window. I was in the left turn lane and watching the traffic light to make sure it was still green. It was. There was no oncoming traffic and only a lone car sitting on the left at the light which was red for it.
I remember cranking the steering wheel for the left turn and looking at the driver of the car that was stopped at the red light. He had the queerest look on his face like he couldn’t believe what he was looking at. I thought that was odd.
What had been a quiet and peaceful morning on Cape Cod became an exclamation of noise punctuated by the car changing its shape in the blink of an eye.
Realizing that I had been hit by another car I quickly checked for my wounds. The skin had been scraped off some of my hand, but it was not bad, but the door had been stove in and now covered the pedals. My left knee hurt. Then I looked up.
Foolishly I had assumed that the car was immobilized by the crash, but it was not. The force of the accident propelled it across the road and toward a huge old oak tree that was definitely going to win out over what was left of the VW. I managed to steer to the left of the oak and was now heading through the underbrush toward a house. I twisted my right leg and foot around the door that was in front of the brake pedal and managed to reach it, stopping the car inches from the house.
While I was blissfully enjoying the early morning and taking a proper left turn at the traffic light a young hair dresser, who was late for work, decided that it would be smart for her to pass me on the left while I executed my turn. How rude of me to be in her way. So she clobbered the drivers door of the beautiful VW Beetle.
I sat in what was left of the car. I just wanted to catch my breath and see if anything of me was broken. Suddenly there was this girl at my side frantically urging me to get out of the car and yanking on the drivers door as if it would work properly.
She was babbling about how sorry she was and was at the point of tears as she pleaded with me to get out of the car. It was at that instant that it crossed my mind that I should feign passing out and dying. Alas, I didn’t have the heart to torture her so. She was sincerely concerned about me (I wish she had been concerned a lot earlier) so I allowed myself to be assisted out of the car. I think she expected it to blow up like they do in the movies.
The police came. They bent out her fender with a shovel and, after getting her information, allowed her to continue on to work. I watched them get the tow truck and haul away what had once been a real classic car. Then I limped across the street to my print shop and got to work.
The skin healed on my hand and my knee bothers me from time to time. It would never hold up so I could run very far again.
People looked at the crumpled mess of what used to be a car and marveled at how I wasn’t killed.
I was lucky.
Damit what fun I would have had with that car.