Appeal Staff Writer
They’re great for mechanics or car lovers who love to tinker. They’re a hit with off-roaders as well as street cruisers. They make terrific father-son projects.
They’re as all-America a vehicle as a foreign car can get.
Volkswagens were among the most popular cars in American during the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, the word “Volkswagen” means “people’s car,” designed to be a simple car that nearly everyone can afford.
The idea came in 1933 from, of all people, Adolf Hitler, who wanted Germans to be able to purchase a car that could carry five people, cruise at 62 mph, get 33 miles per gallon and not break a family’s budget.
The finished product, the KDF Wagen, was a precursor to the Beetle, and designed by Ferdinand Porsche, designer of the sports car of the same name. From there, automotive history was made.
Robert Teixiera Jr. of Mound House found his business niche at 21 with his favorite vehicle. He is part-owner of an auto parts shop in Mound House that sells new and used parts for VWs.
“I’ve got a ’62 Bug, a ’64 bus, and a ’71 Porsche,” he said.
Bug’s Life, not to be confused with “A Bug’s Life,” the 1998 Disney movie, is where Beetle lovers can locate hard-to-find items for that classic Bug they’re trying to put back together.
Bug’s Life sells everything a classic VW Bug or bus needs, from rims, Weber carburetors, and mirrors to door handles and engine parts. He can order new parts, but says he has many used ones in stock.
Near the rear of the shop used Volkswagen engines are lined up, waiting to be brought back to life by some master tinkerer.
“If someone needs something, I probably have it,” he said. “All the stuff is for Bugs, buses or Karmann Ghias.”
For the VW-illiterate, Karmann Ghias are the Volkswagen’s two-door sports model.
Among the rims, there’s lots of options. “I have earlier or later,” he said. “We can get custom rims, and among those for older models, I have silver or white rims for Baja wheels.”
He also has two Bug bodies for sale, one of which is his, the other belongs to a friend.
He said some people just sell the body of the Bug, to make a dune buggy. “You cut the frame shorter on the body, but the drive train is all VW,” he said. “It’s real popular around her because of the number of off-roaders here.”
Bug’s Life does not work on VWs; it’s just a parts depot.
“Some places do service, but most everybody does it themselves,” he said.
Teixiera has considered expanding to offer repair service, but says the costs associated with a repair shop are high.
“We do have a lot of requests,” he said. “But it costs a lot to get that started.”
Teixiera said he likes the engine design of the VW.
“In 1979 and earlier, they had air-cooled engines,” he said. “You didn’t need a radiator or water pump.”
He said occasionally someone will come into the shop looking for antifreeze, which he doesn’t carry. “VWs don’t use that,” he said.
Teixiera said right now he doesn’t carry parts for the new Bug, but expects to in the future.
“We’ll probably be getting into water-cooled engines,” he said. “Air-cooled was a good design, but water-cooled may be a little more reliable.”
His affection for the VW is apparent in more than his business. Teixiera is a member of SloGoin VWs, a Volkswagen club that attends rallies, shows and just cruises around. He added they’re good for drag racing, in an appropriate and legal place, and fun to drive and work on.
In Sacramento, over Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, there is the Bug-O-Rama, a heavily attended VW rally that Teixiera plans to attend. There are also rallies in Reno and Las Vegas.
Teixiera has another job – he’s a candymaker with Chocolate Nugget on Highway 341, the turnoff to Virginia City. But his real passion is the VW.
“They’re simple to work on and relatively cheap to work on,” he said. “They just have style; there’s lots of things you can do with them.”
— Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.
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Need bug parts?
Bug’s Life hours:
• Monday – Closed
• Tuesday through Friday – 2-6 p.m.
• Saturday – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Sunday – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Call: (775) 246-9935