This actually brought back memories of my own connection to the VW Bug. My first driving experiences were with a VW Bug, I believe a 1974 “super beetle,” but I can’t remember for sure. This particular beetle had an automatic clutch, which meant that while you had to shift gears, the clutch was built into the stick itself. So, to shift, you just let up on the gas, moved the gear shift, and then put your foot back on the gas.
Imagine my surprise a few years later when I learned how to drive a real stick shift.
This car never worked great. I recall taking a roadtrip when I was in high school to Kansas in this car and, in the course of the trip, something happened and it was no longer possible to get into reverse. We spent the rest of the trip carefully planning where we parked– well, and pushing once in a while.
Anyway, there came a point, I think shortly after this reverse failure, where this automatic clutch mechanism stopped working entirely. So my father, the ever resourceful engineer, rigged up a little toggle switch on the dashboard. This meant to shift any gear, I had to a) take my foot off the gas, b) flip the toggle switch, c) shift, d) flip the toggle switch again, e) put my foot back on the gas.
This got old quickly. Though since the next car was a Chevy Chevette, maybe we should have stuck with this VW mod….