I had passed the shop many times before, but never during regular business hours. It had been an automotive repair shop, and then unoccupied for a while, and then this new sign appeared. Intriguing, and worthy of a stop, but the opportunity just did not present itself for over a year. And then one day, I passed by pretty early, but there was a car outside. I actually passed the shop, and then decided to make a U-turn and head back. The side door was wide open, and I stuck my head in and yelled hello. No response. I ventured a few feet inside the dimly lit space, to gaze upon a super beetle and what looked like a barn find early beetle next to each other. I yelled hello again. “Be right there”, yelled a voice from some other part of the building.
The voice was Andy, and it was accompanied eventually buy a graying mustached man in a hooded sweatshirt. “How can I help you?” I told him of my longtime desire to stop by and my long love affair with air cooled German machines. His face transformed into that of a man who had just been reintroduced to a good friend from long ago. “Come on in, let me show you the shop”.
The shop was really a series of one car garage bays that had obviously been added on one or two at a time over years. Different levels, different entrances, and different time periods judging by the construction. Andy has arranged the areas by project and by function. An assembly area with organized shelves filled with labeled bins, a paint booth, a repair area with lifts, and a storage area through which I had entered. He is semi-retired and only takes in enough projects to allow for reasonable progress. At the moment, he is about at his limit with three cars. “Oh, and I only do Beetles”, he said with a smile. It does not take long to get the sense that he only likes to do things “right”. That is not to say he is a purist, or that he scoffs at modifications. Clearly not, based on the work he has taken in and the Subaru conversion project he is contemplating. But this does not seem like the place to take your quick and dirty project.
We spoke of rare machines, of Notches and Buses, and trafficators, and Porsche 356s, and longterm projects, and heater boxes, and other wondrous things. Time flew by. What was just a few minutes turned out to be a few hours in earth time, and I was now officially late. We emerged from the dim shop into a bright wintry outdoors, cold, with icy patches on the ground. I had the sense that I had visited a strange but wonderful place, that I now knew how to find again. We exchanged coordinates. I would be back. Soon.