When Manchester pub manager Barry Openshaw responded to a social media plea by VW for people to recount their memories of Volkswagens from times gone by, nothing could have prepared him for the surprise they had in store…
Volkswagen’s appeal via Facebook and Twitter resulted in a massive 1,700 responses from fans nationwide, including Barry’s reminiscences of his dad, Ron’s, 1973 1300 Beetle from the 1970s. “Because it was gold, it always felt quite special,” remembered Barry. “He used to take me to Southport, sit me on his lap and I used to steer the car – just up the beach. We did a lot together.”
Barry also told of how his oldest brother, Keith, courted his wife (Keith’s wife, we presume!) in the same car many years later. He got married and moved to Canada, apparently, but we suspect the events during that era – over three decades ago – somehow became etched into the Openshaw family’s memory.
Obviously stirred by his story, Volkswagen decided to reunite Barry with the beloved Beetle and set about trying to track it down. Sadly, they hit a dead end but nevertheless managed to find an identical model which was painstakingly restored and then resprayed in the same stunning metallic gold paint.
VW arranged for Keith to be flown over from Canada to present his brother with the classic Beetle, on the same beach where he drove it while sitting on his dad’s lap all those years ago. A lucky and very emotional Barry said at the time of the handover: “I feel humbled to have this Beetle. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and it looks like new! It really takes me back to my time as a kid in the ’70s.”
Volkswagen’s PR man Thomas Brady said: “We were overwhelmed with the response to our initial request for memories of Volkswagen and, after we’d reviewed all the posts, Barry’s story really stood out. It was incredible to see his reaction when we presented him with the 1970s Beetle, and well worth all the hard work in sourcing and restoring the car.”
A video telling Barry’s incredible story has been created here. Barry now plans to keep the car – continuing its restoration and showing it at classic car shows as often as he can – so keep a look out for it in 2017.
The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage
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