Bitten by the V-dub bug

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By SCOTT PESZNECKER

Call it what you will loyalty, infatuation or obsession but Volkswagen owners love their cars.

Take Elisa Anttila, for example, who moved to Angels Camp from the Bay Area two years ago.

She has owned four Volkswagens in her lifetime, but her favorite is the one she drives now.

It's called a "Thing," and lives up to its name.

It's stout, orange, sort of Jeep-like and has windows that slide off and doors that detach. It looks a little like a military Humvee, only it's a lot smaller and far less intimidating.

The Thing is among the more rare Volkswagens that a V-dub lover can find. They were produced only in 1973 and 1974.

"The best thing about it is it makes people smile," said Anttila, who spent three years scouring newspaper ads and car lots before eventually finding the Thing.

Many foothills residents are equally crazy over their German-made Volkswagens whether the model is the aptly-named Bug, a Thing or one of the rounded buses that have become a symbol of the 1960s Hippy era. This Saturday, VWs of all ages, conditions and models are expected to be at Utica Park in Angels Camp for the second annual Mother Lode Volkswagen Show and Swap Meet.

The club has nearly 40 members who live in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties and range in age from 18 to 70 or so.

A club member and Sonora resident, Sam Wise organized the Sonora Bug-Out Volkswagen rally at Snowshoe Brewery in Standard in March.

He said the average age of Volkswagen fans is climbing as do the ages of original VWs.

"There are fewer and fewer younger kids getting into it," said Wise, who collected muscle cars in the early 1990s before getting bit by the Bugs. "Definitely kids these days are getting more into Hondas and stuff."

Each member owns an average of three Volkswagens, club president Jennifer Mitchell said. Then there are the extreme members Wise figures he has owned about 200 in his lifetime, but now owns just five.

In addition to all those Volkswagens, Saturday's event will feature music, a swap meet, food booths, a raffle and games.

11700536
The Union Democrat
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