published Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Volkswagen enthusiasts pleased with new Passat

James Bender puts lights on top of his 1975 Westfalia while setting up Friday at Camp Jordan for Bug-a-Palüza.
James Bender puts lights on top of his 1975 Westfalia while setting up Friday at Camp Jordan for Bug-a-Palüza.
Photo by Angela Lewis.
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Would you buy a Passat?

Jay Dean and his wife are marking their 11th wedding anniversary this weekend at the Bug-a-Paluza car show in East Ridge.

The Vashon Island, Wash., couple said they drove their 1970 Volkswagen Bus over 10 days to make the scene with fellow VW enthusiasts.

"It's the different types of Volkswagens you can see," said Dean on Friday at Camp Jordan as he explained why they made the 3,000-mile trip.

According to the Scenic City Volks Folks, the show's organizer, between 300 and 400 vintage VWs are expected at the event that could top last year as the biggest in its nearly decade and a half run.

As the show set up Friday, some attendees said they like the new Chattanooga-made Passat that workers at the VW plant started assembling last year.

Kyle Guthrie, of Ringgold, Ga., cited the technology VW has built into the car.

"It does everything," said Guthrie, who added that he owns 18 VWs.

Fielding Clark, a longtime Volks Folks member and show master of ceremonies, said the redesigned Passat is "a great car for the price."

"You're seeing more and more of them on the road," he said.

Martha Esch of Locke, Calif., said she hadn't intended on stopping at the show but a series of circumstances put them at Bug-a-Paluza 14.

Esch said she bought a 1975 VW Westfalia Bus in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and was driving back to California with her children, Charlie and Mary, when they had a flat tire near the Georgia line.

Guthrie, a truck driver, said it's hard for him to pass up a VW owner in need, so he stopped and helped.

While the tire was fixed, the Bus still needed some work so Esch wound up at the car show where Guthrie said they'll get the van road worthy.

"I said 'You need to come here. I'll fix your Bus,'" he said.

Zen Hendricks, the show committee chairman, said Bug-a-Paluza originally started at a local dealership on a Sunday, but it outgrew that venue and has been at Camp Jordan for about 12 years.

He said the show sold out its vendor space, attracting 70 this year.

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about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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