My Beetle is still missing. I've called every impound lot, entered the license plate into databases, combed adjoining and sketchier neighborhoods, made and distributed flyers, Facebooked, Tweeted, placed Craigslist ads, and anything else I could think to try. I've tried to focus on other things, but I find myself wondering exactly where my mechanical companion of over 20 years is, and what's happening to it. In short, it sucks. The one bright spot has been all the incredible support I've seen from so many people.
We've known that, if you can generalize any group of people based on shared interest, car lovers tend to be pretty damn amazing. I've seen support and great advice in the comments, and so many people have retweeted/posted my cry for help, including many other automotive sites and magazines, like Hemmings, the Smoking Tire, the Samba, VWVortex, Hooniverse, Road and Track, BangShift, and even Hot Rod. It doesn't matter what sort of car you're into; I think all car enthusiasts understand that strange and unique bond of a person and their car.
Just this morning I even got an offer of a free '71 Ghia (in parts, but mostly all there) if I can come get it in Iowa. I'm not sure of the logistical possibility yet, but it's an incredibly generous offer. The valueless troglodytes that took my car are vile examples of people, but it's clear the non-assholes vastly outnumber them. So, sincerely, thank you. All your efforts give me much more hope than I'd ordinarily ever have any right to.
What I know now is just that it's not in any municipal impound lot, and it appears to have been stolen. By tow truck. From the people I've spoken with — VW mechanics in the area who've encountered this before — the car was likely targeted, and if I get it back, it'll likely be at least sans drivetrain and the roof rack, which is fairly rare. I'd be happy to get it back even in that state; it'd give me the excuse to find an ever-so-slightly more potent engine to put back in it.
It looks like this is becoming a series I never wanted to write: What It Feels Like To Have A Loved Car Stolen. So, here's what it's like: fucking awful. Yesterday I was busy, running around, trying to do everything I could to better my chances of finding the car. Now I'm faced with the same gut-wrenching feeling, but less action to take to try and make myself feel like I'm making progress in the car's recovery. At some point soon, there's not going to be much I can actively do, and I think that'll be even worse.
For years, the only two possessions I felt I absolutely would always hold onto have been my Beetle and a Talmud signed by the Ramones. The Talmud I figured would become so valuable at some point my retirement would be to put a tent over it and charge people to view it, or maybe rub it on themselves to cure various diseases. That plan's still in play.
But now the Beetle's gone, and I'm realizing how much of myself I've invested in that car. I've spoken about car as identity before, and while I intellectually understand that they're just machines, they're a special sort of machine in our lives. They may not have souls of their own, but people can pour so much of their own into a given car that it's capable of holding some of its owner's soul in there, somehow. Cars aren't like other machines. I didn't cry when the dishwasher I grew up with was replaced, but I'm not going to pretend I haven't shed a tear for this Volkswagen.
Still, I'm hopeful. This Beetle and I have done some amazing things together. We've towed an ex-girlfriends's broken-down '74 Duster up a hill, in it I've had the slowest 360° spinout in Western letters (on ice, in Yosemite), it was the first thing my now-wife noticed about me, and I've made temporary roadside repairs to it with everything from paperclips to folded magazines. We're a symbiotic pair, and I'm hoping that counts for something.
I'll keep everyone updated, and thanks again for everything.