It was a shiny black 1968 Fuel Injected Squareback with a red interior that started it all. My parents owned it, and it was the first family car I can remember. I also remember it being on fire (well, there was lots of smoke), but that's another story.
When aircooled fever hit me again, I suddenly realized I had never even considered getting a Type 3 over the years, and I had no idea why. I surfed the internet, looking for information about them and found a great community of supportive Type 3 owners and started scouring ebay and The Samba for a Type 3. I narrowed it down to the Squareback, partly because I have such fond memories of the '68, and partly because they have plenty of room. And of course, there's the fact that I've always loved station wagons.
At some point in early March, I found a 1971 Squareback for sale not too far away, in upstate NY. The owner said the car was pretty solid, but I had my doubts. The pictures on his website were fuzzy, and the car was sitting in the snowy woods of NY State. Not a good sign for any vintage VW. The price was right ($1K), but along with the questionable body condition, the car didn't run. I figured I'd go up and take a look at it anyway.
March 15th was a beautiful, warm day -- perfect for a trip upstate. I met the car's owner and got my first look at what would eventually become my first Type 3.
The car was actually in pretty good shape. It looked a little tired after sitting in the woods for a month or two, and I was told it was in the previous owner's basement for a while before that. There was some surface rust on a couple body panels, but the heater channels looked good and the only real serious rust was where I expected it would be -- between the rear fender and the body. The wheel well had a big hole in it, a sign of more serious rust behind. However, the pans were totally solid. Even the battery tray had no rust in it. The passenger front fender had been hit, albeit not seriously. That was the only real damage. I figured as long as it didn't touch any more salt, the rust would hold off until I had some space to work on it in a year or two. The speedometer faceplate had kilometers in red etching, something I had never seen before. The radio was the original "wolfsburg" model, factory installed. The interior smelled quite musty, but the headliner and seats didn't have even one rip in them. The seams didn't even look worn. The odometer said a little over 3000 miles, which I took to be 103,000, since the interior seats were in such good shape and the brake & gas pedals weren't too worn (and weren't brand new either). The engine compartment was pretty clean. A couple hoses were unattached, but I couldn't tell if anything else was missing immediately. No fuel filter in the engine compartment was another good sign. I was getting the feeling that this car was just about as stock as they come. Exactly what I was looking for. What I didn't know (and still don't as I write this) is what kind of condition the engine and transmission were in. The battery in the car was dead. For all I knew the transmission and engine were totally hosed. Given the condition of the rest of the car though, I doubted it. I took the gamble and put down a deposit. Three weeks later, my brother-in-law loaned me his Suburban and we took a U-Haul auto transport back up to buy the car and haul it down to Long Island.