Saturday, January 3, 2004

Super Beetle always fits in



By Lauren Bishop
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo]
Larry Wolf of Wyoming, a Delta Air Lines pilot, sits in his Volkswagen Super Beetle, which he bought new while at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1979. He still drives it from time to time today.
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As an airline pilot for Delta, Wyoming resident Larry Wolf says he's a flier, not a driver.

"Whenever there's an opportunity to go somewhere, I fly," says Wolf, a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a former Air Force pilot.

Due in part to his profession, Wolf's 1979 yellow Volkswagen Super Beetle convertible has less than 100,000 miles on the odometer. But the low mileage is also due to Wolf's determination to keep the Beetle - a part of his life for more than half of his 46 years - rolling beyond 2004.

Wolf bought the Beetle new during his junior year at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. Other cadets usually bought Corvettes, Camaros, Trans Ams or Porsches with the low interest rates on car loans available to military officers, Wolf says.

But Wolf wanted a convertible. At 6 feet 4 inches tall, he was too big for the Alfa Romeo, and MGs and Fiats had bad reputations, he says. So he bought the Beetle.

"I've always been a little against the grain," he says. "I didn't want to drive what everyone else was driving."

The Beetle saw Wolf through such milestones as his drive home after his first solo jet flight and his first date with the woman who is now his wife.

Today, his family's primary mode of transportation is a Chevy Suburban. The Beetle lives a life of leisure, he says, only venturing out on nice days to his teen-agers' sporting events or to the grocery store. Even now, Wolf believes it has an understated elegance, not looking out of place even when next to a Mercedes or a Lexus.

"Whenever I drive that car, people stop me," he says. "It's just a feel-good car."

First car: A 1965 Austin-Healey Mark III, a British sports car that he owned for about a month before buying the Beetle. Although it turned out be unreliable, "It was always a car that I loved."

Dream car: An Auburn Boattail Speedster. But "I'd still probably like to have another Healey."

E-mail lbishop@enquirer.com



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