You See The Most Baffling Things At Small Regional Volkswagen Shows

This past weekend, I went to a local Volkswagen car show in Raleigh, NC, mostly to hunt for a set of heat exchangers for my car, because I’m so tired of being cold. While there, not only did I get my heat exchangers ($10 each!) I also encountered several things that defy rational explanation. Small mysteries, but still enigmatic.

Let’s examine some of these generally Volkswagen-related conundrums, why not?


So close, right? Almost. I’m not really sure I understand what’s going on here. It’s a little one-off hand-painted little model, so I don’t think they’re avoiding adding one to that number as a way to avoid incurring Disney’s copyright wrath.

I’m not really sure what’s going on here. Maybe it’s from an alternate universe where every notable number is one less. I think I saw the person selling these loading them into a beautiful old Porsche 355.

I’m hoping another old VW geek can help me out with this one: what is that little plate for? It’s stamped with the VW logo and looks like a factory thing. The screws that hold it on have some kind of security wire on them, too.


It’s bolted to a bracket of some kind right in front of the carb, sort of where some VWs had the throttle positioner installed. I just can’t figure out what this little strangely-shaped plate is for. I couldn’t quite tell what was behind it, so it may be the front face of some little unit of some kind.

If it helps, this was in the engine bay of a Type II Bus, late ‘60s, I think.


What does this mean, exactly? It was on a pretty nice ‘74 Super Beetle, and the car was free of other goofy cartoon decals of any kind, except for this, on the gas filler flap.

It’s Grumpy, a noted dwarf in the mining industry known for his poor temperament, and he’s by some text reading “Go Away!”


Is this referencing something specific I’m not familiar with? Is there a reason it’s on the gas flap? Is this dwarf telling the gasoline pump to go away? If so, why – the car needs that to run, dwarf? Is it just a general warning to the human population?

Again, I’m baffled.


I’m not sure there’s a greater act of misguided optimism than putting a shade over the top of one of these pre-1962 VW taillights. I mean, I get you don’t want the liability of blinding anyone with that tiny 6V light behind that red lens, sure. Maybe it’s been upgraded to LEDs, and this owner just isn’t taking any chances about accidentally blinding some helicopter pilot from below.


What the hell was this? Does anyone remember what these one-axle freakshow car toys were called? I have a friend who has one, but he has no idea what they were known as, or what the concept was behind them. Deformities?

They seem to be ‘70s era, so maybe they were inspired by nuclear near-disasters like Three Mile Island, or something.


This isn’t really a mystery, I’d just like to note that I’d love to have a general-use daily driver of some kind with these dimensions. It’s sort of like a Kei car: maximum space utilization from a minimum wheelbase.


I need to drive one of these shorty buses at some point; they seem like they’d be really strange, especially with the big tires. I bet one of these over a speed bump at 40 mph is exciting.


This isn’t mysterious either, just some things I found satisfying: well-ordered tools in a nifty holder in the back of a Vanagon, a nice oversized period aftermarket stop lamp, a great in-spare-tire gas can, and a little marker so you can read the degrees on your graduated crankshaft pulley very accurately.

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)