On The road again – the story of my long lost vw bus
This is the story of Chance Franks, who recently was reunited with his dad’s old VW bus which was lost for 25 years.
It’s a long story but well worth the read:
Turn back the clock. Its 1991, and my dad and I had just moved to Tahlequah from Claremore. We were driving a little 1972 Honda cvcc (think civic hatchback, but smaller) that dad had bought for $100.
It was time for an upgrade. He came across a 1979 VW bus. It was better suited for our needs, and appealed to dad’s inner hippie. He was able to bring it home for $800. We built a platform in the back that held an air mattress, so that we could also sleep in it if necessary while traveling. We drove that bus all over up until 1994. Colorado, Texas, mini trips throughout Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico etc.
Just before we moved from Tahlequah to New Mexico in 1994, dad sold it. He always regretted it, and I gave him a hard time for getting rid of it, because if you knew my dad… rarely did he let anything go.
Fast forward to present day.
When we were going through a few things after Mom passed, the family found a wind chime that she and I had made out of old keys. I hadn’t seen it in years (see attached photo). I made a comment that one of those keys went to the old VW. My cousin chimed in and laughingly said “why don’t we pop it off there and see if it’ll start.” I paused…. Wait. What? He then proceeds to tell me “I know where its at.” No way… Like… THE bus? You know where THE bus is? He thought that he had already told me. I immediately asked him to show me.
Off we went. Low and behold… there it is. Setting in a field, not 2 miles from my mom and dads place. I about died. What are the odds? So close? It’s been 25 years! If only this had been discovered before dad passed… and even mom would have appreciated it, though it was long gone before she came around. I made a vow that day to get it back.
The following week, my impatience got the best of me. It was time to knock on the door and see what I can find out. I was greeted cautiously, and not so warmly, by the elderly woman who owned the property. I introduced myself, and told her I’d like to discuss the VW parked out back. I then showed her a picture I had of it from ’94, and tried to be as charming as possible. She was not receptive, and firmly told me that it was NOT FOR SALE. It was going to be stripped for parts by her son. My heart sank. There was no way I could let that happen. At the end of our slightly awkward conversation, she told me that if it were up to her, she’d probably get rid of it, but her son has plans. After asking her son’s name, I thanked her for her time, and went about my way… after writing his name down on the back of a hobby lobby receipt, because everyone knows I’m no good with names. I couldn’t forget this one.
Right then, my search for information began. The man has no social media. Plan B. Thanks to google earth, I found the address of the house. With that information, I was able to find her name (because she wouldn’t tell me). I was then able to search public records and the interweb to verify relation between mother and son. Next, I found that he was married. His wife has a facebook page! Progress. We have mutual friends! Further progress. I contacted a few of our mutual friends, only to hit dead ends. Until the last one. She turned out to be a cousin. She made contact via social media, and laid down some crucial groundwork for me to be able to further discuss the van. There was still hope.
My emotions certainly got the best of me. I laid all my cards on the table. It was no secret how emotionally invested and sentimentally important this van was to me. It was time to ask what it would take to get the ol’ thing back. The response I received was one that I wasn’t ready for. They decided to GIVE IT TO ME . I couldn’t hold it together. I couldn’t believe it. They said that they would rather see it go home, than stay out in that field. That meant more than making any money. Y’all!!! It’s coming home!!! We just have to wait for things to dry out, and get her loaded up.
Now, the condition is slightly better than expected for a vehicle left to the elements for that long… but it does have a fair share of issues. Mechanically, it will need completely overhauled. Engine condition is unknown, but it’s there and it’s complete. This will never be a restored show vehicle. It will be something that my family can enjoy, and travel in just as my dad and I did when I was a kid. It will show its age, and I will tell this story. My girls aren’t getting any younger, and time is slipping away… so this project can’t just set and wait on the back burner.
I’m going to need help on some things, and I may set up a GoFundMe to help finance getting it going. I don’t know.
The world works in mysterious ways sometimes… what’s meant to be, sometimes just can’t be denied. My family and I will make memories in this bus, just as I did with my dad, and I know he will always be riding along… but this time, it’s my turn to drive.
Please support this project!
Chance has created a Facebook page dedicated to the project. Please like his page to get updates on this great story!
To help him fund his project, he has created cool shirts. These are high quality, well made shirts. Light weight, soft, comfortable and durable.
Cost would be $25 plus shipping. All proceeds will be directly invested into this build.
He also created a gofundme page. Any donation will be greatly appreciated.