People I love: Volkswagen Apologists

25 Jun

vw.jpg“Hey, why doesn’t this window roll down?
“Oh, it must be broken. No big deal.”

One of the secretly hilarious sub-cultures in this country is the Volkswagen Apologist. You all know one, and you have all been confused at their behavior: they seem to think their Volkswagen is looked upon by others with jealousy (it isn’t), and best yet, they make excuses for their vehicle’s numerous mechanical problems like they’re Tina Turner defending the black eyes. Of all the people I’ve known who have owned a VW, a full zero of them have had a good experience. Yet, to the delight of the rest of the population who is discreetly giggling at them, most will gush about how much they loved it.

First off, let’s discuss the quality of the vehicles. Their sleek looks and slick ad campaigns can trick a naive soul into thinking they’re some sort of desirable automobile, one that stands for success and yuppiedom and a mark of attainment. However, their sales numbers have dropped markedly owing to the shoddy mechanical design and annual poor quality ratings (remember those realist side-crash commercials? That was because side-crash safety was the only thing VWs scored well in), and the ridiculously odd problems mumbled by the VW Apologists will fill in the blanks.

“Is that a rental car? What happened to the Passat?”
“In the shop. No worries, should be back in a couple weeks.”

Go ahead, call up anyone you know who owns a Volkswagen and ask them what they think of their car. 10-to-1 says they love it. (They’ll typically refer to it as “my Volkswagen” instead of “my car,” which is just about the most annoying thing ever.) They’ll claim their VW is the greatest thing since online porn, yet the more time you spend with them, the more you’ll see the charade begin to unravel.

“Hey man, can I borrow $1,700? Gotta fix the brakes again.”

It’s not so much that the vehicles break down all the time. I mean, yes, the vehicles break down all the time, but that’s not the point here. The point is that when they DO break down, it’s usually for odd reasons like the stereo knobs melted or the car refused to shift out of second gear or the sunroof opens every time the car is at a stoplight. And when the owners DO have to bring it in for repairs, the fact that it’s a rare German vehicle ensures the expenses will be sky-high. But does that temper the owner’s lust for their car? Nah. Like the abused housewife with nowhere to go (or, more accurately, the parent of a $4,000 special-breed dog that shits anywhere it feels), they’ll attempt to convince themselves of its awesomeness by continuing to irrationally defend the vehicle.

“It’s raining pretty hard. Might want to throw on your wipers.”
“No can do, brah. They only work on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

It’s fast. It’s cool looking. It’s got a leather interior. Mp3 plug-in. Never mind that that the left taillight only works when the dewpoint is above 60 or the breaks squeak during full moons, these crazy kids will make excuses for anything. It’d be sad, if it weren’t so hilarious. I actually had a friend one time say to me, after deciding she had to get a new car on account of her VW finally giving out for good, “I just feel spoiled sometimes because my old car was a Volkswagen.” I drew blood while biting my tongue.

So keep on keepin’ on, Volkswagen Apologists. Keep making those excuses, keep trying to claim your car isn’t a lemon, keep pretending the rest of us wish we were cool enough to own one ourselves. We’ll be quietly smirking to ourselves, with one shared belief: without you, this world would be a little less ridiculous, and a lot less funny.


27 Responses to “People I love: Volkswagen Apologists”

  1. Keith June 26, 2008 at 8:44 am #

    As we just bought our second VW in the last year, all I can say is thank you. We did make sure we had the warranty on the Touraeg, as that would be quite pricey to fix. I have noticed this subculture you speak of. There are times I could have sworn that a VW driver I passed was giving me the same gang sign that the Harley drivers do when they pass each other.
    Yes, I do like my VW, but we bought both of ours because they were great deals. Yes we are snobs, but our Ford and Chevy’s were so bad that we were left with no alternative but to look in a different direction.
    Glad to see your blog is back in your possession.


  2. Jon June 26, 2008 at 9:33 am #

    Plus, they’re chick cars.

    I have a buddy who has owned a series of Jettas, who used to endure with bad humor a continuous “chick car” ribbing from all and sundry. The argument might still be stalemated today, had I not stumbled upon a Jetta in an Arizona parking ramp – same color, same year as my friend’s – bearing the following license plate:


    Pictures were taken; arguments were won.

  3. Gates June 26, 2008 at 10:20 am #

    Whoa, whoa, whoa…B…you are way out of your element here. Politics? Yes. Music? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Please!

    Also, my dad who has sold cars for 30 years would likely agree with you.

  4. The Murph June 26, 2008 at 12:35 pm #

    I have to concur with Jon, and I have evidence to prove his point…

    There used to be this band, Detroit, they were absolutely hilarious. They may actually still tour, not sure.

    One example of their hilarity were two separate songs with the exact same melody except one song was titled “Dirt-Bike” about a kid who got a dirt-bike for his birthday, and the other titled “Dog-Bite” about a kid who was bit by the next-door neighbor’s dog. They were back-to-back on the CD.

    Anyway…They also had a song titled “Chick Car” wherein the lead singer would just say types of cars and then the rest of the band bellowed “Chick Car!” If memory serves me, VW was responsible for no less then 3 models, funniest of which was Volkswagen Rabbit…”Chick Car!”

    What a hilarious song and even more so, car.

  5. Cool Rut June 26, 2008 at 3:24 pm #

    I had two VW’s. The first one started on fire the same night I brought it home. It was electrical of course. Great feeling buying your first car and watching black smoke billow out of the dash. Every morning before school I would have to spray starter fluid in the carb. to get it to start.

    Like a idiot I bought another one 10 years later and it would not move in 1st gear but starting in second was fine. Also something was wrong with the backend, if you hit a bump the wheels would bounce for a few minutes. Swear I was going to lose control without the back tires on the ground. I had to avoid some cloverleafs because hitting a pothole while turning would cause me to spin out. But to be fair to the Germans, they were both used.

    Hey Murph, speaking of dog bites. I used the money I got from a dog bite lawsuit to buy the first car. Still have the scar but not the car-that I sold for $50.

  6. Real Rut June 26, 2008 at 8:45 pm #

    Never had a lawsuit dog bit but did sell a car for two cases of beer. Two days later the new owner had the car wasted by a drunk driver. Some irony there.

  7. redsockguy June 27, 2008 at 1:29 pm #

    Hey B, you may recall we used to have a VW back when B was a tyke. I’d have to agree with your assessment of them. There were a few problems and it cost a fourtune to fix them. It was a used VW after all. I don’t think I would buy another one even though I like the way they look. Those problems don’t come close to comparing to the problems we had with our Ford.

  8. Volkswagen July 23, 2009 at 6:19 am #

    Great thanks
    Cool blog :)

  9. Bob December 27, 2009 at 1:18 am #

    Twat. As a mechanic from the UK, the place where weather beats the snot out of cars every year, the only vehicles that would keep going and last beyond 110000 miles were VWs. You are an idiot. The Jap shite that would do a fair distance but not as much. It would run clutches and transmissions all the time. In the US where I now live, no-one ever sells a VW simply because it will keep on running even when it shouldn’t. And here’s why; have any of you heard of an engine that will adjust its ignition timing for each individual cylinder? That was what VW were doing in 1987 with their ignition systems to ensure reliability even in a country like the US that has low octane piss for gas. What about repair you say? The cost of a ‘German import?’ Well in America, where a ‘tune-up’ is considered changing spark plugs, an air filter, oil and oil filter, then what do you expect? Any monkey can replace a part. A tune-up from where I come from is ignition timing, valve timing and belt inspection, compression check and so on. Not replacing parts. I don’t want to hear that it’s expensive to replace parts on a VW or that they are difficult to work on. They’re not. You just need to find a mechanic who doesn’t think that a bloody pushrod V8 is an intelligent design. Guess what, V8’s are for hicks. So question; the 2.0L 16v passat lump from the early 90’s puts out 138bhp (some of you will not know what that means. BHP IS AT THE WHEELS, HP IS AT THE FLYWHEEL). A Hemi of today is 5.7L with 2 valves per cylinder (because 2 valves per cylinder covers the whole surface of the head (sarcasm)) and kicks out 350hp. Yes HP AT THE FLYWHEEL, it’s around 320BHP AT THE WHEELS. Per liter, the engine from the early 90’s has much more power. Wake up, talk to someone who knows and maybe you’ll learn.

  10. Gates December 28, 2009 at 12:02 pm #

    Go away.

  11. Wain C January 29, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    We’ve owned not one nor two but many of them. From Vanagon, Eurovan, Jettas, Passats, Golf. We’re yet to replace one alternator or an injector or any major component for that matter. We currently own 2005 Jetta, 2009 Jetta TDI, 2003 Golf. Since we’re not wealthy we go with budget, we do not consider VW luxury at all, just well executed small wonders. We’ve also had some Japs however they’re not driver’s cars by any means. Japs are reliable but mostly boring automobiles. The 2005 Jetta is now pushing over 80K mile mark, battery is the only thing we’ve ever replaced on it. The 2003 Golf we’ve replaced a small piece of plastic at the clutch, other than that flawless. By the way we had a 1986 Jetta with 300K miles on original power train, 1997 Passat TDI with over 300K miles on original power train got totalled in accident. Don’t get me wrong it’s not like we’re not willing to try a different brand, my personal car is a BMW; So give us something worth a second look we’ll give it a try. By the way you don’t like paying for car service, buy a good pair of shoes and start walking.

  12. Cane August 7, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    I don’t know what you mean when you say VW wins people over with their sleek look, the only VW that looks nice is the CC. Second whats wrong with people loving there car thats seems like a good thing I wouldn’t want a car that I didn’t like whats wrong with having joy in a investment the ten people I know with VW’s including myself all love our cars and I’ve never thought it was a bad thing. Really don’t know what you mean about VW’s falling apart either out of all the people I know with a VW no one has ever had any problems. I also have to believe its more then luck that VW sells more cars then any other car company.

  13. B. August 8, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    Volkswagen is 10th in vehicle sales, behind such automotive juggernauts as Kia and Subaru. Some hilarious points you made there, Cane.

    • jack January 1, 2014 at 6:17 am #

      Vw is number 2 in the automotive industrie

  14. Jeff December 21, 2010 at 10:16 pm #

    Bob from the UK. I live in the New England area of the US, where we get very cold snowy winters and humid hot summers and cars get similar beatings to your UK conditions. I own a 1998 Honda Prelude with 245,000 miles on it. Not saying that all Honda’s will last that long but I can’t simply let you say that all Japanese made cars fall apart in under 110k miles. I worked as a mechanic for Honda for some time, and saw plenty of mint condition cars coming in with well over 110k on them daily. Plenty of Japanese cars last until 200k as long as the proper maintenance is performed. Being that I only own Hondas, I cant speak for Toyota or Nissan. Honda’s have such strict clearances that any improper care to one can destroy them. It’s not because they were poorly made, it’s because they were precisely made. Individual cylinder ignition timing is quite impressive for 1986 but starting in 1989 with Honda/Acura Integra XSI Honda added VTEC engines. You had mentioned valve timing as part of your tuning. Well as you surely know the valves open and close as the camshafts spin. The ingenious part of VTEC system was adding idler lobes to their camshafts that upon reaching 5,700 RPM the computer would send a signal to shift to VTEC which was done through oil pressure and a lock pin that locked two camshaft lobes together. This accomplished having the effect of 2 camshafts in a single engine. One camshaft for driving around town getting groceries, a nice smooth drive. A second VTEC camshaft for aggressive driving, Wide Open Throttle conditions such as passing other vehicles etc. So your car could obtain good fuel economy while still being able to keep its aggressive side. Pretty impressive for a 1989 Japanese car.

  15. Sea March 7, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    Just my $.02… I have owned three jettas, two passats, and a rabbit. I have never had a single problem with ANY of my VWs, except for a MAF sensor I had to replace on one of the jettas. Besides the occasional dead lightbulb, they have NEVER given me any problems. This is why I continue to buy them.

  16. cwgrlnaveedub August 20, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    If you don’t care about maintenance, you like putting cheap fuel in your vehicles, and flat out are too lazy to care… Then plz by all means purchase a Honda. But if you take pride in your vehicles, care about maintenance and enjoy every minute of time and every dollar you DO spend on your car, then look at vw’s. Before you start bashing something you have no education about, do your homework. Vws are perfect for any lifestyle besides laziness.

  17. Matt September 11, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    Volkswagens are the cars you love to fix. I have had two Sciroccos over the years and I loved those cars like no other. What many people fail to realize is that, unlike Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, etc, VW has not had a manufacturing presence in the US since 1988. That means all parts and vehicles must take a long trip on a boat to get here. That alone contributes to the cost. VWs have their quirks, like the odometer failing or the right dash bulb burning out. Unfortunately, during the MKIII and MKIV years Volkswagens were plagued by electrical problems. This caused everything from the windows not going down to fires. Once you get a bad reputation it is difficult to fix. However, like all car companies some of them are lemons, it is the nature of the beast. I would like to point out however that my 1985 Scirocco had 280,000 miles on the clock before the odometer stopped working. I have never owned a domestic or japanese car that lasted that long.

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    Exactly where did u actually end up getting the tips to write
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  1. People I hate: busy road cyclists - World of B - August 20, 2008

    […] planning on titling this post with the same “People I Love” phrase that I used for the Volkswagen Apologists write-up, with the intention of creating a of series of innocuous jabs at the various sub-cultures […]

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