EL PASO, Texas — I love retro vehicles. As a graduation present, my aunt is giving me a 1965 emerald-colored bicycle, which I will be sanding, repainting and outfitting with a big basket and a rotary-action bell this summer. When I get married, I hope to drive away into the sunset in a 1960s shiny red convertible Mustang, veil floating gracefully in the wind.
By no means am I car expert, but when I found out that a local bar was hosting a Volkswagen car show I knew I had to be there. Hope and Anchor, located at 4012 N. Mesa, managed to get about 80 cars into their tiny parking lot, all of them VWs and all of them oldies. None of those new Beetles, Golfs or Jettas, just good old VW Bugs, Campers and a couple of other models that have become icons of popular culture.
Driving around El Paso, it’s easy to find old bugs that are seemingly forgotten. Recently, I saw a black one whose rear half had been furnished with a wooden truck bed. The sun had ravaged away its paint and rust was eating at its doors and hinges. I wondered when was the last time it had been driven and optimistically thought that it might still work. Even in its condition, it evoked my respect. It was obviously a working person’s car (why else turn it into a truck, if not to put it to work?), and I imagined it beautiful and quaint in El Paso’s dusty streets some 40 years ago. It was sad to see it there, so lonely, parked in the side yard of a corner house, a defenseless prey to the weather and passersby.
But if I learned anything at Hope and Anchor’s El BugO in El PasO, it was that there are many others who share my nostalgia and admiration for these staples of American road trips. It was comforting to see so many El Pasoans invest their time and money to restore these old beauties and to see entire families come out on a Sunday afternoon to show their support.
Jacob Fourzan, a bartender at Hope and Anchor, was the organizer for the event. He said he had been hoping to have a VW car show for a long time, seeing how Hoy Fox had organized the last one about 10 years ago. He also hopes that the El Paso VW scene will reach the stature of major car shows in the nation.
“The reason for a VW show is because I’m a VW guy. I own several older Volkswagens and I want to get all the enthusiasts in town to come out and get together and support our passion,” Fourzan said. “I want for this show to one day get to the size and standings of the Bugorama show series, and hopefully it will show that El Paso has some great cars and strong ties to the VW world.”
Most cars were from El Paso, but there were several from out of town, including Las Cruces, New Mexico and Chihuahua, México.
“Most of these cars are not show cars, mind you, and a lot of them are people’s daily drivers or works in progress,” Fourzan said. “The main purpose of this show is to get everyone to come out and get together and show off their cars regardless of condition.”
There are plans to make the show an annual event, which I hope will encourage other V-dub owners to prep their vehicles and bring them out to be admired. These oldies-but-goodies deserve to be shown off because, to borrow from VW’s latest ad campaign, that’s el auto.