Volkswagen squashing the Bug, collectors keeping it alive


One of the world’s most recognizable cars will soon be coming off the assembly line for the last time.
Volkswagen is killing the beloved Beetle.
But there is a diehard car culture in the Valley, keeping the Love Bug alive.
A ‘bug’s life’ begins in 1938, when the first Volkswagen Beetle rolls off the assembly line at a plant in Germany, where the Nazis are in control.
The guy who dreamed up the so-called ‘people’s car’– head Nazi himself– Adolph Hitler.
He even gets the first convertible bug, created by Ferdinand Porsche.
An idea from an evil dictator, ironically morphs into a symbol of peace and love and a new era starts.
Historians say the Love Bug makes it to the U.S. 11 years later and goes on to be one the best selling cars of all time.
Roger Boman of Fresno has a rebuilt 1970.
“Listen to that thing. Oh man,” 
He takes us for a bumpy ride around Fresno in a Cal Bug, a modified, racier version of the car.
“A freeway flier. So when you get on the freeway, you don’t get run over,” Bowman says.
Like many Bug owners, the quirky cars are a life-long passion of his.
“Who would be the crazy guy that would be driving a VW? (laughs) Here I am!”
He got his first Bug in the 1960s, back in college.
(Joey): “What’s the top speed on this thing?” 
(Roger): “I’ve never tried it but I would… I don’t know (laughs).”
A few years back, he shifted gears and started collecting them, after his son Quinn ‘caught the bug.’
“So I drug this out of a field in ’90. Upside down. It was upside down in a walnut orchard in Madera,” Quinn says.
He stopped and rescued this 1956 oval, referring to the shape of the rear window, for a bargain price of $100 and put another $25,000 into it, to fix it up, cow horn and all– no bull– bringing the car back to life.
They call this one a ‘rag top,’ which is the 1950s solution for a cheaper version of…
“Air conditioning,” Quinn says.
So why collect a Bug?
They’re cheap and easy to find parts for, just ask Terry Burnett.
He has a boneyard of parts.
It’s like a window into the past.
They call him the Volkswagen King of the San Joaquin.
“And I don’t like that,” Burnett says.
He’s too modest to brag but he’s made a living off restoring hundreds of bugs for the last 40 years.
“Bring ’em back to life,” he says.
He runs Burnett’s Auto in Clovis, where you’ll find every VW imaginable, from a rusty ‘rat rod,’
“If it ain’t got rust, they don’t want it,” to these unique mini buses he made back in the seventies, 
by chopping 4 feet out of the middle.     
“We used those to pull our race cars back when we were drag racing,” Burnett says.
He ended up selling that bus and decades later bought it back.
Now it’s yard art, just like his bug moving truck.
It doesn’t move at all.
It’s just an exaggeration of how versatile Beetle motors are.
“Airplanes with them. They made saw mills out of them. They made air compressors out of these engines,” Burnett says.
He can make them look brand new, like this white and blue Bug in the shop now.
But this is his daily driver.
It’s been around the block.
“There’s been a lot of offers and aint none of them been good enough yet,” Burnett says.
It gets him from A to B, looks greasy under the hood, and there’s no power steering.
But this old car keeps his past alive, instead of in the rear-view, like these guys, reflecting on the good ole days.    
Vince Ceppaglia is a member of the Deutchlanders car club.     
“it’s more of a cult,” Ceppaglia says.
He’s referring to VW culture.
Ceppaglia got bit by the bug decades ago.
“Friend of mine took me to a VW show when I was 16 and I’ve been hooked ever since,” Ceppaglia says.
He drives this burnt orange ’62 convertible up and down the state to car shows.
“Be around other VWs man. Bugs like bugs,” Ceppaglia says.
Volkswagen built the last of the more than 21 million classic bugs in 2003.
A few years later, this insect on wheels went through a metamorphosis, and transformed into a sleeker body style. 
Paul Yocum has a 2012.
“Maggie, yeah. All Volkswagens have a name,” Yocum says.
He’s got 6 more at home.
Now that the automaker is falling out of love with the love bug, Yocum and other collectors are hoping, when production stops, their cars, including Maggie, will be worth more.
“We’re not giving up this car for nothing,” Yocum says.
Burnett will keep fixing them up.
Boman will keep shifting into high gear.
“Oh yeah. It’ll go.”
And Volkswagen can try to exterminate the Bug but these car enthusiasts are keeping it alive.
VW is ending production of the Bug because sales are reportedly down.     
But the company is doing something that’s getting a lot of people excited.
They’re building an all new electric version of the iconic VW Bus.
You can literally plug into nostalgia.
The micro bus is expected to hit the road in 2022.

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