By Vern Parker
Every day is Mother's Day for Jaime Steve.
He has fond memories of his mother, the late
Marti Steve, driving him to his schoolboy activities near their upstate New
York home. Her car was a 1973 Sahara Beige Volkswagen Squareback. She taught
her son how to drive in her VW and years later overloaded the car with the
necessities of college life and drove her son to college in the car.
The Volkswagen was sold in 1983. Steve, however,
never forgot his mother's car. After she died in 2002 Steve sought a car
similar to the one in which he traveled so many miles with his mother.
Not too many VW Squarebacks survived and of
those that did many were in sad shape. Those he found, he says, "were the wrong
color, the wrong year or were total garbage”.
In the summer of 2010 Steve saw an ad offering
the elusive car of his dreams. "The picture in the ad looked so incredible,” he
says. "This is the car I've been looking for.”
With the exception of a roof rack the car in the
ad was identical to the one his mother had. It was 14-feet, 4-inches long and
was 63.2 inches wide. The nimble VW rode on 15-inch tires and could be turned
in 36.7 feet.
Like his mother's car this one is propelled by
an air-cooled 96.6-cubic-inch four-cylinder engine in the rear that can push
the 3,274-pound car from zero to 60 mph in 18 seconds. Top speed is reportedly
84 mph. Steve surmises, "It would take a long time to get there.”
The beautifully restored VW was in Austin, Texas
but was originally a California car.
Coincidentally, Steve purchased the Volkswagen
August 18, 2010 which happens to be his mother's birthday. "This car is my
mom,” he exclaims.
He was so thrilled at finding the car that he
broadcast the news to all of his relatives.
That is when Steve's father, Laurence Steve,
thanked his son for buying him a car like the one he had bought 37 years ago.
Steve didn't have the heart to tell his father that was not exactly the plan he
had in mind so he had the VW trucked from Texas directly to his father's Mt.
Vernon, N.Y. Home.
Steve's father enjoyed the car for about a year
before he died.
Soon afterward Steve and his wife, Whitney, went
to New York to retrieve the car. The Squareback performed perfectly all the way
back to their Alexandria, Va., home. The 94.5-inch wheelbase affords a
comfortable ride. Factory literature claims fuel economy of 24 mpg.
I still can't believe it is in such good shape,
an incredulous Steve says.
Because the VW is essentially a station wagon
design, the engine is located beneath the floor of the cargo area. "That's
where I learned my first German,” Steve says. "Auf” for open and "Zu” for
closed are labels on the latches securing the engine cover.
On the flanks of the rear fenders are louvers
that direct air to the engine. Each rear fender is perforated by 27 louvers.
Refilling the gasoline tank is accomplished through the aperture in the right
front fender. In addition to the spacious cargo area behind the back seat there
is a sizable storage area at the front of the car. The back seat can be folded
forward to expand the rear cargo area. The interior is upholstered in black
vinyl with heater and defroster controls on the floor between the front bucket
seats. A storage pocket is in each door.
The gear selector lever for the automatic
transmission is also on the floor. From the front the gear offerings are: Park
– Reverse – Neutral – Drive – Second – First.
Steve marvels at the excellent condition of his
VW. The painted silver wheels are blemish free and even the rubber on both
bumpers and bumper guards is without scarring.
Since acquiring the car Steve has replaced the
battery under the rear seat as well as the exterior mirror on the right side.
Now he is shopping for an authentic roof rack so
his VW will be identical to his mother's car.
"It's truly a memorymobile,” he says.