In a prior post involving supernatural phenomena, I mentioned the FahrverGremlin that lived inside my 1989 Volkswagen Fox.  I owned Foxy for ten years, until she was nineteen with 279,000* miles.  That little “driving annoyance” kept me junking, jury rigging, and devising workarounds until the minute the title changed hands.  I presented a potential buyer with a two-page list of Foxy’s quirks and he scoffed, saying I “wasn’t gonna scare him off that easy.”  We settled on fifty bucks, but before I could collect it, he laid a hard luck story on me.  I gave him a 100% discount, but still felt as though I’d ripped him off.

As you might imagine, Foxy’s impish stowaway caused a few crazily comic scenes.  The look on a friend’s face when I hit the brakes at a stoplight and the glove box flew open, spewing its contents all over
her feet.  The glower of the parking valet when I tossed him my keys with a warning that both the AC and reverse gear were out of order. The E-check gal’s wide-eyed alarm when she brushed the horn button with her boob during the emissions test and it blared mercilessly until she pulled it out of the garage and shut off the ignition.  I wonder if Foxy’s still on the road, how much more mischief the FahrverGremlin has stirred up.  Below are some examples from my own experience:

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  1. chevvy8 January 21, 2018 / 9:52 am

    How hilarious Joan! You are certainly an expert by now. Reminded me of the first cars I ever owned. I once owned an old Mazda 323. My solution to my window always sliding down – stick a screwdriver to keep it up. Window wipers worn – stick your hand out to wipe the windscreen when caught in the rain. Well – that’s terrible advice but based on real experience.
    The wiping of the windscreen led me into a skid and off the road, stuck in the bush between opposite freeways. I thought that was the end of me and my passengers. Fortunately, I lived to tell the tale with barely a scratch on the car. Fortunately I also grew up and became more prosperous 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan January 21, 2018 / 1:07 pm

      Thanks, Chevvy. They say necessity is the mother of invention. I think we all had a hoopty car in our youth… we earned the freedom of having wheels by thinking outside the box to keep them on the ground and rolling. Foxy was my daily driver just prior to my current car, a 13-year old Honda I’ve had for nine years now. Foxy was representative of my cheapskating phase. I took her to a tire place once to have a tire repaired (it had lifetime road hazard warranty) and the guy insisted they couldn’t just fix it and send me on my way because all the tires treads were below the “legal” limit. I said, “Wanna bet? Unless new tires are free, you better put the old ones back on.” Long story short, he did. A friend once had a car she had to enter and exit through the hatchback because the doors were inoperable. Another used a battery-op boom box in the back seat when her stereo went on the fritz. Sticking a hand out to wipe the windshield is a new one on me… I award you a perfect 10 for creativity, long arms, and dexterity, but -2 for safety, for doing it in a moving vehicle. That’s an 8 overall, not too shabby. God looks out for babes and fools, they say, and it must be true. Here we both still are, we lived to tell about it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • chevvy8 January 21, 2018 / 1:36 pm

        Ah – I have many tales to tell about cars. My first car was a VW beetle much like “Herbie” the movie. It had a mind of its own but I’ll share the story another time. Of course I’d never get away with it in this day an age. Safety is one issue and these days, cars are computerised in the main and to stay in warranty, need to keep to service plans. Yep, you’ve really taken me way back Joan! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Tippy Gnu January 21, 2018 / 10:46 am

    I’ve never heard of a VW Fox. Maybe there’s a reason for that. My first car was a Plymouth Cricket, and few have ever heard of one of those, also. And for good reason.

    These are poet’s cars. You have to be creative when driving one. So maybe your graph of problems and fixes should be considered a form of poetry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan January 21, 2018 / 12:43 pm

      Thanks, Tippy. I’ll have to Google the Plymouth Cricket. The Fox was already 9 years old when I bought it… VW discontinued that model shortly after introducing it, so there were few left by 1998. I saw a guy driving one through my town a couple times. It was a red 2-door sedan like mine, with vanilla-colored pinstriping on the sides. We’d both crane our necks to try and get a better view of the other weirdo driving a Fox. I wanted to stop him and ask if he also had a FahrverGremlin, but never did. Yes, it takes a lot of imagination to keep a fossil like that on the road. The junkyard was my go-to place for used parts, but often they gave me the same song and dance as with the dipstick… if you want the side mirror, you have to buy the whole door, etc, etc. In the end, they sold it to a scrap metal dealer for $35. It made me mad they didn’t even call me first and offer me the half-stripped carcass for the same price. When I lost my source for parts, I had to hang it up. I’ve tried to hammer Foxy and her quirks into a poem several times, but to date, no form has been able to contain or explain the magnitude of her deficits and my jury-rigging. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tippy Gnu January 21, 2018 / 4:30 pm

        Not very thoughtful of that junkyard. Although maybe they saved you from having two junk heaps in your yard, rather than just one.

        Perhaps some broken form of free verse would do the trick.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Marissa Bergen January 21, 2018 / 7:16 pm

    I’ve had cars that I’ve run into the ground. I wish I had this checklist back then!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan January 22, 2018 / 10:44 am

      Thanks, Marissa. With hoopties, it’s all about frugality, creativity, and common sense. If I were to boil this down into a flowchart, the first question would be “Is it life threatening?” If YES –> JUNKYARD OR JURY-RIG. If NO –> SO WHAT? That’s pretty much it. As far as running the Fox into the ground, my mechanic said if I was careful about keeping enough oil in the engine, it would run forever. Still don’t know if that was a threat or a promise. 🙂


  4. lyart January 22, 2018 / 1:30 am

    🙂 what a cool post! I actually had a car similar to yours, once….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan January 22, 2018 / 10:48 am

      Thanks, Lyart! My relationship with Foxy was complex, a love-hate kind of thing. I think most people have had such a relationship with an old car… my sympathies to you. Believe me, I understand. 🙂


    • Just Joan January 22, 2018 / 12:34 pm

      Amen to that, Scott. These days, it’s assumed by many in authority that outside-the-box thinkers should be on medication. We can’t have people thinking for themselves, now, can we? I had hoped a priest might be more open-minded, but… well, you see how that turned out. Kudos to you for reading all the way to the end, hope it was entertaining. 🙂


  5. Quirky Girl February 8, 2018 / 5:58 pm

    Haha! Who needs a horn when you’ve got the handy middle finger? Two of them, even! 😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan February 9, 2018 / 8:19 pm

      Well, the auto inspection stations seem to think a horn is a necessity. That earns them a one-finger salute. 🙂


  6. circumstance227 February 11, 2018 / 5:08 pm

    What a scream! Especially your considerable negotiation skills when selling the Fahrvergremlin. Hope that new owner has your capacity for creative solutions!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan February 11, 2018 / 5:13 pm

      Kind of like The Ransom of Red Chief by O Henry. Glad I didn’t have to PAY the guy to take it off my hands. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • circumstance227 February 11, 2018 / 5:31 pm

        I had a similar negotiation when we sold my husband’s aquarium. They got it at about a tenth of its value but I would have paid THEM to take it out of our house.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just Joan February 11, 2018 / 5:38 pm

        An aquarium? Hmmm… We had a garage sale once, and a friend asked if we’d be willing to sell a couple of her things, along with our stuff. We said yes (stupid, stupid, stupid!) and she dropped off, like, a car load of crap, including a 10-gallon aquarium and all the related fish paraphernalia. Long story short, we bought it for $10 (fully half of our profits from the sale) and thus began our life with fish. 10 cichlids, fights to the death, the purchase of a 45-gallon tank, two survivors, a case of ick, one survivor that lasted ten years and liked to be petted. The person who got the 45-gallon tank and paraphernalia got as good a deal as the guy who got the FahrverGremlin.

        Liked by 1 person

      • circumstance227 February 11, 2018 / 5:44 pm

        my goodness – it is like you are telling my own story! (Are we actually the same person?!) The only thing missing was the Great Freeze of ’96. The heating went out in our house while we were on vacation. We came home to an aquarium with all the fish floating on the surface.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just Joan February 11, 2018 / 5:50 pm

        I have wondered that myself. We actually got the aquarium in 1996, a year after we moved here. And we’ve never had a great freeze, even with furnace issues that dragged on for three months in the dead of winter.


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