Volkswagen

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Directions Auburn, MA 01501

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Do you remember your first car? I’m sure you do, but do you still have it? Kathleen Brooks has owned and operated her 1967 VW Beetle, that she likes to call Annie for its ruby red paint, for almost 51 years now. It wasn’t until the Bug’s 50th birthday that she reached out to a San Diego TV station asking if they would be interested in celebrating the 50th birthday of the only car she has ever owned. Shortly after, she realized Volkswagen was also interested, so much so they offered to restore Annie at its factory in Puebla, Mexico.

Annie’s been Kathleen’s rolling rock as the years go by, getting her through marriage and divorce, surgeries, owning her own business, several jobs, and three bouts of breast cancer. Kathleen says that after owning a car for so long, “she’s not a part of me, she’s an extension of me,” further personifying her beloved bug. Before separating from Annie for 11 months she wrote a letter to the people who would restore her explaining that, “Annie reminds me a lot of myself: old, faded, dinged and dented.”

So, Annie crossed the border into a new country never to leave the same again. Annie compiled a restoration team of at least 60 people who worked together to bring Annie back up to pep. The team faced problems trying to find and recapture the original paint after the long-disintegrated factory paint has faded. However, the team found that the matching color rests inside the glove box mostly untouched by the salty beach air and 50+ years of sun.

Together the team of 60 eventually replaced around 40 percent of Annie, restoring a grand total of some 357 components along the way. After 11 months of matching paint colors, new interior, tearing apart the 1,500-cc engine, a slight power increase, and some of the same shakedown tests used for modern Volkswagens, Annie said her farewell to Mexico to return to her faithful friend Kathleen.

Now back in Kathleen’s open arms, she is beyond impressed exclaiming, “on a scale of 1 to 10, I wanted a 10. She’s a 25.” The Puebla team left some surprises for Kathleen such as the new seats have “Kathleen” and “Annie” embroidered into the seat backs and they wrote their own letter back to Kathleen.

Kathleen knew even before the restoration that if you can keep good care of something it can maybe outlast you, this is no different with Annie and even wishes that she “could live another 50 years to have another 50 years with her.” Volkswagen couldn’t have given Kathleen a better gift.

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