Tag Archives: Volkswagen

Picking Up a VW Bug

As promised, this is the story of how I, along with my roommate and friend Brian W., picked up a VW Beetle to free my car, which was blocked in by the Beetle and another car. The year was 1984; I was 18 years old, living in southern California at the time, and like many, many other people could no longer afford to live in the place of my childhood, the delightful, energetic, and beautiful Newport beach. Why? Because the uber-rich had descended, bought up all of the homes, driven up prices, and turned the once sleepy beach town into, well, a trendy extension of Malibu. So, I had to contend with living inland. You know: hot, smoggy, congested, yukky, and less-expensive inland. Poor me. hahahaaa!


One night, after suffering through a sweltering day of cell-and-soul-withering sunshine (plus humidity), Brian and I decided to drive down to the beach to get some relief. We figured that if we could just get our toes in some sand and some cool ocean water on our skin, we could face another day of living in hell. We were closest to south Laguna Beach at the time so that’s where we went. Our idea was to grab a parking spot on one of the hilly, tree-lined residential streets near the ocean, and hoof it down the cliff and numerous stairs to the water’s edge. We had a perfect place in mind and since it would be near dark by the time we got there, we figured it would be no problem. Ha!

Even in 1984, parking at the beach, any beach in southern California, was a total nightmare. Brian and I literally drove around and around, street after street, for nearly an hour waiting for someone to pull out so we could park. Eventually, we found ourselves on a small cul-de-sac and quickly parked my ’78 Honda Accord. In retrospect, the glare from the driver pulling out of the spot that we then snagged should have been a warning to us, but we were under the glazed bubble of narcissistic youth-dom and totally unconcerned with his attitude. Yay! We had found a place to park.

We then set off for our walk to the ocean, which was a pretty long walk as it turns out and across the very busy Pacific Coast Highway. But, we knew that if we could just get in the water and run around on the dark beach, all our cares and discomforts would vanish. And, they did. The ocean was amazing that night. The sand was cool and soft. The air was briny with a hint of sweet and it was still warm, but not hot. The last vestiges of sunset licked at the edge of the water before us. It was heaven. We stayed down there playing in the surf for several hours. Finally, we were cool, relaxed, and totally worn out. So, we headed back.

Of course, the walk back was much longer and much more physically demanding; we climbed slowly up stair after stair that only a few hours before we had sprinted down like dogs to get to the sea. We then had to walk up hill the entire way to get back to the street where we had parked my car. It was after 11 pm by then and since we had spent over three hours running around like 8-year-olds on the beach, we were pretty tired. But, we were young and fit and we finally made it back.

As we walked toward my car, we noticed that my car was blocked in on both sides. A 70s model VW Beetle was behind my car and literally an inch off of my bumper. The car in front of mine was equally close to my front bumper. In retrospect, the car in front looked alot like the one that was being driven by the glaring man when we pulled in. That car was even hanging a bit into the path of the driveway located there, so it was obvious that he either lived in that home or was taking a chance on getting towed away. Son-of-a-%*#! They blocked us in!

Brian and I stood there for a few minutes and debated about knocking on doors to ask the owners of the vehicles to move their hunks-of-junk and let us out. We also debated just sleeping in the car and getting it out the next day, but we were wet, sandy, tired, and I could feel a serious anger building inside of me that demanded action, not passivity. I looked at Brian and said, “We can move the VW, dude”. He just laughed, shrugged, and said “Okay, let’s try it.”


The thing to note here is that at the time, I was an 180-pound body builder (aka a gym-rat) who routinely squatted hundreds of pounds. I was a monolith with ginormous 13-inch biceps, huge quads, and a big, solid ass of pure muscle. Brian was a martial artist and possessed a wiry, lean, and small, but ripped physique from his years of training. We were not your average human beings by any means. And, well, we were really pissed off by then. Oh, and, for those of you wondering, no, we were not on steroids. This was not a case of “roid-rage”. We were just in rippin’ shape, young, bold, and ticked off at those a-holes who purposely blocked us in. Welcome to the beaches of southern Cali. Now, get the frack out. LOL!

So, as we stood there analyzing and talking, we realized that simply wrenching the VW straight out from the curb would have resulted in ripping off his license plate or mine, so we were going to have to lift the car above my bumper to get my car out. Okay, so we knew what we had to do. We needed to lift the front of the VW and swing the front of the car out about 20 degrees. After a quick session of deep breathing and psyching ourselves out, we both squatted down, grabbed the bumper, set our backs straight, lifted the freaking car, and swung it outwards. The VW’s tires skittered and whined across the asphalt, but we kept going and then dropped the car, loudly, like we were in the gym and dropping a set of weights. CRASH!

At this point, it was pure desperation and anger that drove us to do this. We didn’t care how much noise we made. We had to get out and get home. We were tired and pissed off. And, I venture that none of those owners would have said anything to us had they gotten a load of the two of us doing this. They would taken one look out their silk-draped windows at the “two dudes” out there picking up a car and backed quietly away.

The rush of what we had done hit both of us at the same time and we just sort of laugh-screamed in jubilation. The nose of that VW was angled out from the curb a good five feet. We could not believe it. Honestly. It was like a dream. It was the strangest sensation to see the car and know that we had lifted it. Brian and I just busted out laughing, got in my car, carefully wig-wamed it out of the spot, and drove the hell out of there. We so would have LOVED to see the face of the VW owner that next day as he approached his car, scratching his head, and looking at the angle of it sticking into the cul-de-sac. Priceless.

Another thing to note. VW Beetles are not all that heavy. Anyone with a reasonable amount of fitness can lift the front end of one. The engines are in the back of the car and this makes the front end of the Beetle fairly light and lift-able, comparatively. But, still, it was something we bragged about for years and in the end, a really fun and funny memory from my youth.