Beetle back: Woman reunited with her first Volkswagen 22 years later

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Amanda Dorset (pictured in the 1990s, left, and 2018, right) has been reunited with her 1975 Volkswagen La Grande Bug more than two decades after she sold it. | Volkswagen photos
Amanda Dorset (pictured in the 1990s, left, and 2018, right) has been reunited with her 1975 Volkswagen La Grande Bug more than two decades after she sold it. | Volkswagen photos

We all remember our first car. There was nothing like turning that key for the first time and taking that clunker over to show off at a friend’s house.

Most of us move on from the first car, destined for fun behind the wheels of other automobiles or ready to start real restoration projects of our own. But not Amanda Dorset, who has been reunited after more than two decades with the first car she ever owned — a 1975 Volkswagen La Grande Bug.

“It’s the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me,” she said in an interview with Volkswagen.

Raised in Victoria, Virginia, Dorset was born into a family of Beetle lovers; both her parents drove them. She began dreaming of owning a Beetle of her own one day and, in 1996, that dream came true.

Dorset bought her Volkswagen from a classmate. At the time, it retained its original Ancona-metallic blue paint and had only 48,000 miles on the odometer, though it was in rough shape.

“It was a hunk of junk,” Dorset recalled. “It had trees growing from the floorboard!”

After she paid a whopping $125 for the car, Dorset painted it Plum Crazy purple and nicknamed it “Pretty Purple Penny.”

The La Grande Bug — one of the last Super Beetle sedans marketed as a luxury model — was given new engine parts, floor pans, fenders and seats.

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However, Dorset only drive Penny for eight or nine months before selling the car and moving to New Jersey.

She lost track of the Beetle until last year, when a friend spotted a similar looking car online. The paint had faded and the wheels had rotted, but it was Penny.

Dorset offered to buy the car immediately for $525. When she picked it up, she found a custom decal with her name on it still stuck to the rear window.

“When the seller realized it was really my car, he says, ‘Oh my, your name is still on the back window,’” she told VW.

Penny now resides at the Dorset’s Green Bay, Virginia, home alongside the family’s other VWs. Dorset said she hasn’t decided if the car will be road-readied again or wll remain parked as a piece of history.

“I don’t care,” she said. “As long as it’s mine again.”

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Carter Nacke is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He began his career at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix, the largest news radio station in Arizona, where he specialized in breaking news and politics. A burgeoning interest in classic cars took him to the Journal in 2018. He's still on the hunt for his dad's old 1969 Camaro.

6 COMMENTS

    • I miss my 1965 VW it was red with 2 front green fenders…. I’ve searched for many years but couldn’t find it. I also owned a 1965 chevelle convertible dark blue… still searching for it.

  1. Yes l know what she means by her love of the older style VW Beetle. I have MS and in a wheel chair. These VW are so great for me to be able to work on them. I have four of them need lots of my love to make them just like new again. Soon as my new garage finished l’ll have a warm place to work on them. Its hard to fine these VW l also found some trees growing out of them. You can get the parts even the floor to the roof and from bumper to bumper. They even took the rear end of them with the motors and made three wheel Trikes l have Harley Forks on mine and it is a 1969. In the motor now replacing Pistons from way back then, it is taking a bit longer to re-build the motors on them now because of not being able to walk. But l sure will be able to slide onto the seat toss my wheel chair on back seat. See Ya When I Get Back,,,,,,soon as 70* here again in Northern Michigan of the Lower half.

  2. I’m very happy for her. I enjoy reading articles about people being reunited with their favorite car. My thought Amanda; restore it and drive it like it’s 1996 all over again! Some of us never get a chance to relive our youth. You have that chance, enjoy it.

  3. Hi!! Thanks for sharing my story! I am so excited to have her back; not sure what I am going to do yet. I live in NJ and the car is at my dad’s in VA. Good news is he offered to bring it up here in May! My husband and I will just tinker around with it until we can her going again.
    I am looking forward to restoring her for a second time. This time I’ll take much better care of her!!

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