I’m no thief, but I am smart enough to realize that, if you’re going to steal a car, and you hope to get away with it, you’re probably going to want to jack something common. You know, that way you can blend in with the crowd. But some imbecile in Arizona apparently didn’t get that memo, because he or she apparently stole the ugliest off-road vehicle of all time. Just look at this thing.
The last time I stole something was 1998, when I was seven years old. I placed a Laffy Taffy on the gas station counter, expecting the cashier to ring it up with whatever else my dad and brothers we purchasing on our road trip. After we left, and began cruising through rural Oklahoma in our family’s Chevy Astro Van, I gently unwrapped the tasty treat, only to be berated by my dad. “David, did you steal that Laffy Taffy?!” he accused.
“I put it on the counter,” I responded, already beginning to cry, because — at the time — I just wasn’t equipped to handle conflict, especially of the Laffy Taffy-Theft magnitude. After a thorough scolding for what he thought was an intentional robbery, my dad whipped the van around and paid the nickel or quarter or whatever a Laffy Taffy cost back then. It was a scarring experience, and while I didn’t do it on purpose, the event reinforced an already-strong understanding of just how unacceptable it is to steal things. Even really little things. Junkyard bolts and fuses that you could totally shove into your pocket? Nope. You gotta disclose those. A wine opener that your coworker snatched off the bar at a swanky VW press event? Make him put it back. It’s just not worth it.
You get the idea.
I mention all of this only because The Great Laffy Taffy Incident of 1998 may be the reason why even I, a diehard fan of rusty 4x4s, am simply unable to get into the mind of the person who pilfered this homemade off-roader. (OK, I’ll admit that the story was entirely irrelevant, but I wanted to tell you all anyway):
Perhaps the thief figured the camouflage paint would make for a covert getaway? I don’t know.
All I know is that a reader sent me a link to a Craigslist listing titled “International Scout - $1 (Phoenix),” and now I’m confused.
“This is a vehicle that has a Scout frame, Mercedes 2L diesel, and a Volkswagen fiberglass body that my uncle made in the early 70’s,” the post begins. “Someone stole it on 2-4-21.”
“It’s not worth anything,” the ad continues in what has to be the most obvious statement in history, “but means the world to our family.”
The person who wrote the post says a flatbed Dodge (shown above) was involved in the theft, and that anyone who knows what happened to this International Scout with a VW body and Mercedes engine should call the police.
I talked to my coworker Jason Torchinsky, one of the world’s foremost experts on VW Beetles and Beetle derivatives. He drew the picture above, and said he thinks the upper part of the body from a “manx-type dune buggy,” but that someone threw on some “home-made fenders” (that’s the wrinkly stuff you see in the image above) below the fiberglass. Jason sent me these images showing how those fiberglass dune buggy kits are set up:
The stolen International/VW/Mercedes vehicle is just so absurdly hideous. I get that the fenders are custom, but why are the wheel openings big enough to fit fire truck tires, and yet they house small nondirectional rubber? I guess it’s so that it’s easy for the exhaust to poke out?
I love the International Harvester badge on the hood, but the homemade grille to cool the water-cooled diesel motor, and the custom top — it’s all like a high school science project gone bad. And yet, I love it.
This thing has soul, and I sincerely hope it ends up back in the hands of its rightful owner, and I do think it will.
Because of this hideous machine ever gets anywhere near a public road, it will be noticed, and eventually, the thief will be caught.