by: John Snell X
I got this '74 Volkswagen Thing when I was 17 from a family by the name of Brenegen who lived down the street from where I grew up.
I paid $700 for it back in 1991. The car was in pretty rough shape, but it wasn't rusty. The windshield was cracked, the car didn't have a motor or a top, the rear fenders were in the back seat, and it needed brakes, tires, and ball joints. But I sure was excited to find it. I had seen an orange thing at this family's house before, but it had disappeared in the late 80's --someone stole it and dumped it in a lake.
Then I was watching The Brenegen's dog while they were out of town...I went over there to feed the dog the first night and I entered the garage from a side door. I didn't know where the light switch was, but I could see just enough to make out the shape of an odd car high up on blocks on one side of the garage.
My adrenaline rushed when I thought it might be a Thing. I went over to it and felt the car with my hands to find out for sure. I felt the side of the car and felt those distinct side ridges of a thing. "COOL!", I thought. Then I felt the floors and along the bottom of the doors and fenders to assess any rust damage. It felt really solid! What a find. So, when the family came back from out of town, the first thing I said was "I like your THING!".
Without a split second going by, Ms. Brenegen elbowed the husband and said "Sell it to him!". (She wanted her garage spot back!). The husband thought about it and called me a few days later and said it was for sale at $1000. That seemed a bit high, so I took my chances and offered $700. Mr. Brenegen said he had another guy who would pay $1000. I gambled that he might be bluffing and stood my ground.
Three weeks went by with no word. Then my dad said he saw Mr. Brenegen biking by our house. He left a message for me stating that the car was still for sale. "Will he take $700?" I enthusiastically asked my dad. "You'll have to call him." Sure enough. $700.
When I took ownership, I found out the car was previously titled in Arizona, which explained why the car wasn't full of rust. Finally, just this past week, I patched the only rust holes on the car, so now it's rock solid throughout.
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