Name: Michael Daniels
Car year/make/model: 1970 Volkswagen Beetle
R&L: When and how did you acquire the car?
Michael Daniels: I was stationed in Berlin, Germany in late 1969. I was looking for a Beetle to bring home. I found this one listed on the PX bulletin board. A major had ordered it from the factory in Wolfsburg, Germany and drove down to pick it up. When he got back to Berlin, his orders to go to Vietnam were there. I bought it from him with 300 miles on it. My wife drove it 235,000 miles before we parked it.
R&L: Tell us about the car (specs, restoration work, unique items).
Michael Daniels: This was a ground-up restoration that took about 3-and-a-half years. My brother-in-law, Robert Overman, did most of the work on it. You can tell he's an excellent restorer! Many others had their hands on it too during this period. There's not a bolt on it that was untouched. The car remains mostly stock looking, but it was upgraded to 4-wheel disc brakes (you got to be able to stop) and the engine was redone with a mild horsepower increase. We wanted it to look like it just came off the assembly line.
R&L: Do you have a fun/interesting story about the car?
Michael Daniels: The most fun story about it was taking an Army buddy with me to East Berlin when the Beetle was two-weeks-old. You have to realize this was a time when the Cold War was going on, the Berlin Wall was very much active, and we didn't talk to the East Germany soldiers. My friend and I put on our dress uniforms as we were required to do when we went to the East zone. We were in a guy's apartment buying some antique clocks (we weren't supposed to be there) when there was a knock on the door and somebody shouted "Polizei." The lady in the upstairs apartment had called the police to report we were there. We could hear those European sirens in the distance. We grabbed up our clocks and went outside in the snow to put them in the car and run. I had locked my keys in my new Beetle! I asked the guy if he had something we could break the vent window with. He brought out a fire axe. I pecked at the window and it wouldn't break. My buddy, scared to death because he had never been in that situation, grabbed the axe and swung it so hard I thought he was going to take off the top off the car. I picked broken glass out of the car for 20 years after that. There's a little nick in the window frame left as a reminder of that day. When we got back through Checkpoint Charlie my buddy said he would never go back there with me, and he didn't.
R&L: What excites you most about owning this car?
Michael Daniels: The most fun thing about having this car is listening to the Beetle stories so many people tell me when they see it at a show. It seems everyone grew up driving one, riding in one, or just having a great time in one. I was sitting beside a $360,000 McLaren at one show and nobody had stories to tell him.