From time to time I browse a classifieds-website called Craigslist. Sometimes I browse it because I’m looking for work or I need to buy something or want to sell something, and other times I browse out of sheer boredom.
One day back in April I came across a 1979 Volkswagen T2 Transporter Van (aka VW’s iconic hippie style van). Although I had a form of transportation, a trusty, die hard, low maintenance, 1993 Honda Civic 2 door coupe that I loved and adored, the classic VW had always been a fantasy of mine. Little did I know this online classifieds discovery would soon turn my dreams into reality.
Although I really didn’t need another automobile, I thought I would go check the van out in person, just to see, ya’ know? The asking price after all was $4000, which is actually relatively low for the classic VW’s in decent condition (they typically go for upwards of $7000).
Upon driving out to Mississauga (a suburb 30 minutes west of Toronto) I pulled into an auto repair shop where the current owner was housing the van. As I pulled in my eyes were immediately drawn to the beautiful sky blue VW parked in the lot. I parked my car and got out. I was greeted by the owner, Oscar. Oscar was a thin olive skinned Peruvian man about the age of my father. He greeted me with a big smile saying, “This is it”.
He gave me a walk around explaining the work he had done on the van while it was in his possession and told me some of the issues he knew about, which still needed to be addressed. Other than the horn and parking lights and windshield wipers not working, the van was more or less good to go according to him. He started it up with no problem, and even let me take it for a small ride around the parking lot as it wasn’t currently plated or insured so I couldn’t test it on the street legally.
Everything seemed good to me, but before I made a big purchase I needed some reassurance. I told Oscar thanks for showing me the car and that I would be in touch. One of my best friends name is Mohamed, or Mo for short. Mo was a mechanic at the time so I gave him a call and asked if he would be willing to come give the prospect a look when he had free time. When I arranged a time that was good with him I called Oscar back a few days later asking if I could have one more look at the van with my mechanic. He agreed.
Needless to say a few days later Mo and I arrived back at the auto-repair in Mississauga to meet Oscar. Mo inspected the van as mechanics do, crawling under it, listening to the engine closely as it ran, gave it a short drive test to test the breaks. He then took me aside to give me his report. He affirmed pretty much all the things Oscar had told me needed to be fixed. In addition he said I would want to put on a fresh set of tires.
Now that I had an assured understanding of the shape of the car, negotiations could begin. I wasn’t prepared to drop $4000 on a vehicle that I really didn’t need. Oscar was motivated to sell the car because of pressure from his wife and the fact that he was moving back to Peru. With the added knowledge that I would need to replace the tires as well as a few other things we began to bargain back and forth.
Eventually after some haggling Mo and I were able to persuade Oscar to let his baby go for a mere $3000. At this price I really couldn’t turn down the deal. This was a fraction of market value on a van I had dreamed about owning since my childhood days of watching Scooby Doo solve mysteries in the mystery mobile. I put a deposit down, got a receipt and told Oscar I would be back with the rest of the money as well as a plate and insurance, in a weeks time, when I would pick up the van.
Long story short, this was my birthday gift to myself for my 24th birthday in May of 2011. It would be an automotive project, a means of transportation and adventure, a conversation piece, an extension of my personality, and eventually, a full out multimedia project.