Friday, 6 November 2009

A VW meeting in Portugal

I thought you would like to have a peek into whats going on in a Portuguese VW meeting. And also, this is an excuse to remember the mates I left behind. "Is there any VW Scene in Portugal"- So you ask me often. Of course there is. Vws were once the real "peoples car", and most families had one . My dad had one. I did my exam in one, in the Air Force. A dual control one, with big lettering in the back bumper saying "Instrucção".( Driver under instruction).

I am in the VW scene since the early eighties, where beetles were pretty much the backbone of the poor people transportation. Cheap, reliable, easy to "have-a-go" mechanics, with parts easily found ( usually for free) in the countless wrecks left on the streets, the beetle was a free encyclopaedia of mechanics for a twelve-year old boy. I found very amusing being able to withdraw an engine from a beetle in ten minutes. Using just a pair of pliers and a 17 spanner!

The first meeting I attended, i mean, driving, was the VW Flash in Nazare, in 1989. A fishermen village north of Lisbon. Few cars, happy people, and beetle talking troughout the weekend,enough for you to slash your wrists or bore you to death. Nevermind. Unforgettable. As the scene caught on, opportunists "organisers" started to rip you off with extorsionary fees to attend meetings. You would take the car, you would pay, and the " organizers" would be congratulated! I kind of had enough of that and preferred the local meetings ever since. Or better still, spend the "admission fee" with my family, in a nice trip aboard the vw.

Campers are called in Portugal as " Pao de Forma", which means something like loafbread, given its shape carved like a "Hovis" bread. The Beetle, is known as " Carocha" which means exactly that, a beetle. At the meetings you are bound to find the same old "Technicians" and "Experts" that will gladly point at you that your number plate screws are from a 63 model and not, as you wrongly thought, from a 64 model. But there are also people that think VW are just a marvellous excuse to meet like minded people and to share experiences and tales of having a beetle.

There is an extensive "catalogue" of aircooled vw in Portugal, and it would be very difficult to find which beetle is "mainstream" or common. There are of course plenty post-68, but also plenty pre-68. Although, comparing with the UK, there is a shortage of "wedges", and the 4x4 Synchro are virtually inexistent.

Camper vans, just like mine, were some few years ago "gipsies vans" and "fishmonger vans". which would deem you socially unacceptable. No one would want to be seen in one, let alone have one! The Type 2 ( Camper vans) were just a cheap alternative as a goods vehicle and that was it. They started being admitted in the vw shows as something "funny" that by a strange coincidence, had the same engine as the beetle!

This is our "pub". A nineteen-forties retired boat converted as a Bar-Restaurant

As the years went by, they became scarse and suddenly, they became a sixties icon. Everybody wanted the "surf" or the "hippies" van. "Cute", as they say. There is nothing worse for a vehicle than being "cute". This is a meeting from "Clube Carocha do Seixal", the people with which I used to go and have some pints. These Photos were taken in August, just south of Lisbon. Mind you, this is just a local meeting, with local people. There are main events with hundreds of cars, ( extorsionary-organisers meetings) which i will post some photos . If I ever set foot in such place again...

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