Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Karmann-Ghia

My favorite car the Hawleys ever owned was in the Volkswagen family and it's the only car I ever wrecked. This is from November 24, 2005.

This is an anniversary of sorts for me, although not a romantic one. On the day before Thanksgiving my junior year in high school, I wrecked our Karmann-Ghia. I only remember driving to school three or four times during high school. The Hawleys had only two cars and both my parents worked. Most days, I walked to school, a little more than a mile from our house in York, Nebraska. The reason I took the car that morning is long forgotten but not the drive itself. It frosted the night before and I was in a hurry. Not taking the extra minute to completely clear the windshield, I peeked through the small hole where the ice glaze had melted. Running behind, I pulled into the parking lot and discovered it was full. My next option was parking on the other side of the building so I exited and started to cut through the adjacent neighborhood. It was a gorgeous day and the sun was out in full force. Unfortunately, the combination of sun and an icy windshield led to blinding glare. I never saw the Lincoln. I was making a right turn into the subdivision and he was turning left onto the street. He was in my lane but I ran into him. The man, prominent in our community, didn't want to call the police. He said, "I know your dad. Just have him see me and we'll get it straightened out." That sounded good. I thought he would offer to pay for both vehicles because he was wealthy. Dad went to see him and straightening it out meant he paid for his and we paid for ours. In a battle between a Lincoln Continental and a Karmann-Ghia, bet on the Lincoln. His damage consisted of a broken turn signal while the right front end of the Hawley's car was caved in. My father was upset at me. It wasn't the accident itself that disappointed him; it was the lack of judgement I showed in not insisting we call the police. The hardest part of the incident was this; the repairs to the Karmann-Ghia would come out of my pocket. I had hard-earned money in the bank from my job at the Jack and Jill grocery store. My account would be depleted rapidly.

That Karmann-Ghia was the favorite car that I've owned or shared with my family. Ours was tan, a mid-1960's model, that could comfortably only fit two. Karmann-Ghias were intended to be an upgrade from the original Beetle design. They were produced by Volkswagen in conjunction with the Karmann and Ghia coach companies, from Germany and Italy. Only about 440,000 came off the assembly line between 1955-1974. How we got one, I have no idea. It was the second car I learned to drive. Dad taught me on our station wagon with automatic transmission before he let me have a shot at the 4-speed VW. It wasn't pretty- our driving lessons were on a road outside of town that led to the Nebraska State Prison for Women. I'm sure the clutch took a beating before I got the hang of it. After awhile, I could change gears without thinking and the rides became smoother. For a teenage boy, driving a stick shift is so much more exciting than an automatic. To a small town kid, that Karmann-Ghia might as well have been a Porche Roadster which means I might as well have been James Dean, with glasses, of course.

We romanticize images that remind us of our youth. I think that's what David did in 2nd Samuel 23 when he wished aloud that "someone would get me a drink from the well near the gate of Bethlehem." Israel's second king was battling the Philistines and maybe longing for his simpler days as a shepherd. Maybe that's why I have such fond memories of that Karmann-Ghia; it reminds me of the time when being Steve Hawley was less complex than it is today. Maybe David didn't think the water from his hometown well was so terrific as a boy but it improved in his mind with age. Maybe I'm the same in my memories with the car. My folks sold it after my high school graduation and I have not even ridden in one since. Recently, I made a list of fifty things I want to do before I die. At roughly # 25 is "Own a Karmann-Ghia." They are becoming rare- I have only seen one in the past eight years- and I would presume that would make them very expensive. Just driving one would probably give me enough contentment to mark it off my list. It's funny; when some of David's men brought him some of that well water, he refused to drink it because they obtained it at the risk of their lives. If you let me borrow your Karmann-Ghia, I promise I won't put your life in jeopardy. I learned my lesson the hard way.

Applicable quote of the day.
"Beep beep beep beep, yeah."
John Lennon-Paul McCartney (from Drive My Car)

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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JKC said...

My family had a Karmann-Ghia when I was in high school - loved it! A neat little car - ours was black and white.

CoachSutton said...

Your Karmann-Ghia was my Volare station was the only car that could get Z-Rock out of Chicago on the radio and get airborne on the hills down our road!