Tag Archives: Dave Tobin

Awesome Classified: Rolling Fortess of Sheet Metal – 1960 Chevrolet Apache C10 Seller claims women will be asking ‘Just how pregnant do I want to get?’ when you pull up in this baby!

1960 Chevy Apache For SaleEvery once in a while I come across a classified ad that is so well written, that makes such a compelling case, convinces me so fully that I need it that I consider begging, borrowing and stealing whatever I must in order to put the vehicle in my garage. This 1960 Chevrolet Apache C10 Longbed Stepside Pickup  ad I found on Craigslist here in Minneapolis is just such an ad.

Are you bullied on a regular basis? Do you have feelings of general inadequacy? From what the seller says, this pick up truck might just be what you need to turn things around. I must admit, I felt considerably tougher and my skin appeared more weathered just minutes after reading this ad.

1960 Chevy Apache For Sale - 2
If things go badly, this could be the last thing you ever see speeding towards you.

Who woudn’t want to say ‘Yeah, I just picked up a 1960 Chevrolet Apache C10 Longbed Stepside Pickup, you wanna go for a ride?’?

1960 Chevy Apache For Sale - 5
All V8, all the time… yeah, boy!

I wouldn’t normally expect the owner of a pickup like this to be such a proficient writer. He seems to entertain while he informs… crazy thing is… I don’t think he was joking when he wrote this. I think he’s serious, dead serious. What’s a little scary to me, is that I recognize the drive in restaurant where the seller took the photos included with the ad… it’s less than a mile from my house. I don’t think I want this guy that close to my house!
1960 Chevy Apache For Sale - 1The seller bought this car as an original ‘barn find’ in Nebraska, equipped with a camper on the back of it, and hauled it back to the Twin Cities for recommissioning. It looks to be original, as described, and comes with a treasure trove of original books, manuals and other paperwork. $20,000 seems a a little steep for me… but I think I’d rather just pay the man instead of trying to haggle with him too much.

Here is a link to the actual ad.  (and one that link is no longer active… see below)

From Minneapolis Craigslist – November 9, 2015:
Now here’s a real truck…none of that pussy shit you see nowadays. Plastic was a luxury in 1960 so everything’s made from things long forgotten today….steel, sweat, chewing tobacco, gun powder and dead dinosaurs.

That’s right this Nebraska barn find is as complete and unmolested as kid who had something better to do the night Michael Jackson asked him to sleep over.

I know what you’re wondering: how safe is it? There are only two things that will keep you safe in this, those expired condoms in your wallet and the safety switch on the gun in the rear window rack because seat belts weren’t even an option when this baby came out and she’s certainly not getting them installed so don’t even ask if your flesh trophies can have a ride unless you accept that they can easily be thrown from this majesty of metal if they touch the wrong handle on the door (or they talk).
No tree hugging hippie shit here because to move this beast you need both feet on the floor and both hands on the wheel pulling this vessel of men in the direction you need to go. Hell, pirates would rather steer a wooden ship through the Bearing Strait than to mess with this thing in traffic.

Air conditioning? There is absolutely a dial that says “AIR” but literally interpreted means that you are offered the same options as Jesus and John Wayne, that’s right just flip that switch and you will be handed some outside air that’s passed over 283 cubic inches of piss and vinegar and, when first opening said vent, a healthy dose of trail dust reminiscent of an Arizona dust storm because the makers of this fine piece of machinery were men who rode the trails and not each other and thought hot dust was just another one of the food groups.

This rolling fortress of sheet metal has an AM radio and the only power-anything is the power coming from under the hood. That’s right, there will be no Justin Bieber being played in this sanctuary of steel, and if you own white Oakley’s, affliction t-shirts, or those cheesy stitched-pocket jeans you should probably not get in this man wagon because you will be ridiculed relentlessly and probably left on the side of some dirt road in the country where a local farmer might find you and make you squeal like a pig.

However, if you laugh at danger, and tempt fate, consider the Prius an abominable affront to the Gods of displacement, torque, and All Mighty Internal Combustion or uttered the words, “Hold my beer and watch this . . .” then step aboard but most likely there will be no room as your mom, girlfriend and sister will have beat you to it.

No sir, when this baby pulls up in the driveway the only questions one has to ask are, “just how pregnant do I want to get?” and/or “do I have enough money for bail?”.


Originally purchased to hot rod and slam but after inspecting thoroughly I decided against tarnishing this pristine-condition specimen.

Purchased from the second owner, this truck sat in a barn in Nebraska for the past 30 years and appears to have been frozen in time. Prior to my purchase in September it was last titled in 1984. I literally loaded it on the trailer and using an external fuel source it started and ran perfectly.

I have performed only the following:
– Removed camper (which comes with the truck)
– Washed and buffed the exterior
– Changed oil and filter
– New fuel tank, fuel pump and fuel sending unit
– Rebuilt carburetor
– New brake master cylinder
– New bias ply tires
– Flushed all fluids
– Replaced rear brake hose due to cracking
– Installed dual glass pack straight back exhaust (orig. exhaust included)

Since getting running I have put close to 2,000 miles on and it drives like a dream and everything works right down to the cigarette lighter!

I don’t think you will find a more perfect candidate for an all original restoration. This truck is 99% intact missing only the original rear bumper and mounts. Every item on this 45K mile truck was retained intact right down to the original owner’s manual and booklets in the mint glove box. The seats were covered in 1960 with a cover and when checking out the original vinyl underneath there are no cracks or damage to the original seat so the cover kept everything in pristine condition. The floors were covered in outdoor carpeting so the floors are 100% clean and the original floors underneath immaculate. I’ve inspected the entire truck for rust and found only a couple spots of surface rust and minor spotting as you can see in the pictures. The truck was painted to match the camper (which comes with the truck if you like) so the paint is not original but apparently was done in the 60’s

Trades, bartering, etc will be taken into consideration. I do not need the money and really, really love driving this truck and am not motivated to sell except for I want to hot rod an Apache and do not want to wreck this one. If you think you’re going to offer me $10,000 think again.


2014 Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally Call for Entries – Event Dates June 7-8, 2014!

Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally
If you’re interested in joining the fun on the 3rd Annual Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally please send in your entry NOW!

This year’s event will be held Saturday and Sunday, June 7 -8!

Reservations need to be made, T shirts ordered, you get the idea. EIGHT entries for the 2014 Walleye 1000 have already been received, 3 of them are pictured below – Entries are limited to 20 total, there are 14 spots left!

This year’s event is open to classic, sports and grand touring cars 20+ years old, cars from model year 1994 and older!

Visit the Walleye 1000 website to download an Event Application here.

Our route will incorporate some of the best twisty and challenging roads you can possibly traverse in the upper mid-west! We will make our way South along the Mississippi River going back and forth between Minnesota and Wisconsin making a handful of entertaining stops for food and fun along the way.DEPART: 9:00am Saturday – “Caribou Coffee” – 1100 County Road 42E, Burnsville, MN


FINISH: +/- 5:00 Sunday evening – “The Tavern on Grand” – 656 Grand Ave, St Paul, MN for the finishers dinner where awards of unspeakable value (and questionable taste) will be distributed.

Total event mileage will be between 400 and 500 miles. Once again we will have a safety sweep team in a Yukon with an open car trailer to lend a hand in case any of these old cars ‘fail to proceed’ along the way.
As you probably already know, the Walleye 1000 is more of a fun driving tour rather than a true rally… there is nothing to keep track of, no timing, no scoring, just a fun drive over great roads with cool cars and even cooler people.

As always, the MG Midget with rusty floors and a fender in primer is as welcome as the recently restored Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato!

Visit the Walleye 1000 Event Website for more information and to download a PARTICIPANT APPLICATION.

LIKE the Walleye 1000 on Facebook and keep up with the newest news and event info!

Walleye 1000 Facebook

Rare 1974 Alfa Romeo Montreal For Sale


During my regular ’rounds around the web searching for my next great collector car find I stumbled across this rare 1974 Alfa Romeo Montreal on Craigslist in Atlanta.

It’s described as a recent import from France where the same gentleman owned it for 27 years. You can see the amber yellow headlight lenses peeking out from the front brows. Apparently the silver paint is fresh and a new cream colored leather interior was just installed. It’s said to have been well maintained and it runs beautifully, the asking price is $59,000.

While the car’s chassis and running gear was borrowed from the Alfa GTV, the Montreal’s exotic Bertone body and low production numbers (just under 4,000 total units built between 1972 and 1975) will always set it apart from other modern Alfas. $59,000 is no steal, but considering a similar 1973 model sold for $99,000 (well above the auction company’s estimate of $55,000 – $75,000) at Gooding and Company’s Pebble Beach Auction in August, chances are Montreal prices will continue to increase.
Alfa Romeo Montreal For Sale

Alfa Romeo Montreal For Sale
Still sporting its French license plates.

2013 Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally Event Dates Announced – Saturday & Sunday, June 8 – 9, 2013 – Join Us with your Classic Car!

walleye 1000 vintage rally
No time or money to go on high dollar vintage rallies like the Colorado Grand or California Mille? If so, the “Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally” just might be for you! It’s a two day vintage car tour on the back roads of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The 2nd annual Walleye 1000 will be upon us before we know it. This year’s route will take us South-East from the Twin Cities along the Mississippi and into Wisconsin for the evening, then back into Minnesota for our return and finisher’s banquet on Sunday evening.

Open to interesting classic, sports and grand touring cars, foreign and domestic, model year 1993 and older.

Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9, 2013

From the patinated to the pristine, from works in progress to completed projects, blue chip collectibles to vintage fright pigs, all are welcome to participate in the old car hijinx and debauchery that will likely unfold during the 2nd Annual “Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally” on the scenic back roads of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

View photos of the Inaugural 2012 Walleye 1000… lots of interesting cars and fun people!

Entry fee is $249 per vehicle (2 person team, driver + co-driver). Overnight accommodations, finisher’s dinner, event T-shirts for all participants and a bunch of other event swag is included, this is a laid back car event on a budget!

Contact Event Organizer: Dave Tobin | (651) 216-1265 | dave ( at ) daveknowscars.com

Visit the website for event info, sign up for email updates and download a Participant Application.

Arizona Collector Car Auction Report Preview… Mercedes Cars Sell from $2.5 Million down to Under $10,000 Sensory Overload, Mercedes Cars at Every Venue

Perhaps the most imposing Mercedes of the week, this 1935 500K Cabriolet A, sold at Gooding and Co. for $2.5 Million at the hammer.

The Collector Car Auctions in Scottsdale this past week were great… and the 70 degree weather was nice too. I must admit, as I got off the plane to ONE degree in Minneapolis I pondered a permanent change in geography and lifestyle.

There were lots of great cars, some huge sale numbers… and some not so huge sale numbers. There was virtually every kind of car imaginable, lots of Mercedes-Benz cars representing over 120 years… from an 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen to a Mercedes McLaren that’s just a few years old. SLs were the star cars… 300SLs appeared at each of the sales I attended, more than one at several of them. Pagoda SLs were very well represented, as they continue their steady price rise. There were a couple of 190SLs and more R107 and R129 ‘just used cars’ than I could count. Classic Mercedes Coupes from the 50s and 60s were present as well and one very imposing 1935 500K Cabriolet A.

I am working on a number of stories related to the auctions… about specific auctions, about specific cars at specific auctions and why things happened as they did.

Each sale really has its own personality. Different crowds are drawn to each auction for different reasons. You have the elephant in the room… Barrett-Jackson, which is what most people think of when they think of the Scottsdale in January, many people don’t even realize there are other auctions going on. The best description of Barrett-Jackson that I can come up with is that it’s basically like the Minnesota State Fair except inside the buildings, there aren’t animals, there are cars. Russo and Steele seems a bit like a WWF Pro Wrestling event, but instead of two big sweaty guys going at it in the ring, there are collector cars of (widely) varying quality rolling through looking for new owners. Gooding and Company and RM Auctions clearly cater to the highest end Robin Leech champagne and caviar set. The quality of cars at these events are as good as any sale in the world. Gooding creates a lively, rather laid back atmosphere, considering the millions of dollars being spent on individual cars in a series of very comfortable tents. RM gets my vote for best venue, the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Arizona Biltmore Hotel and Spa Complex. Their cars are nicely displayed outside among the palm tree lined drives and inside in a ballroom where you would expect a wedding reception instead of a car auction, but this is no normal car auction. In the auction room things are fairly quiet and very orderly.

I attended the Consignment Tour at RM Auctions put on by Sports Car Market Magazine which was interesting. The availability and openness of the RM Auction analysts and Carl Bomstead and Keith Martin from SCM was great. While higher profile in the car hobby than a guy like me, they’re still just car guys… their insights are interesting and you can tell they’re having a lot of fun walking among these wonderful discussing the pros and cons of each or speculating as to why the market is moving this way or that.

Cruising from preview to preview and sale to sale was a blast… I ran into a number of old friends, made some new ones and got to know some friends I already had just that much better. I hope to recount the highlights on the DaveKnowsCars blog over the next few weeks as well as in a number of articles on the SLMarket website. If you’re not familiar with the SL Market Website or the printed SL Market Letter, I encourage you to click the link to that website in the upper right of any page on on the DKC blog. In the meantime… here is a taste of some of the Mercedes-Benz vehicles that caught my eye… there are many more, this is just a sampling!

Clark Gable Mercedes 300SL Gullwing
Mercedes Benz 300SL Originally owned by Clark Gable (complete with Gable manequin), no sale at $1.6 million. Seemed like a more than fair number to me, consignor must think the star power is worth more. Should have sold.
Mercedes 300Sc Cabriolet
My buddy David Steingas leaving no stone unturned with his inspection of the 300Sc, ultimately sold for $750,000, soaring right past the high estimate of $450,000.
Mercedes 300S Cabriolet Gooding and Co Scottsdale 2013
One of the surprises of the sale… description noted the car just came out of long term storage and needs ‘complete recommissioning’ never the less, this car brought $300k OVER the high estimate of $450,000, hammer fell at $750,000!
Mercedes 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet Gooding and co Scottsdale 2013
One of two 280SE 3.5 Cabriolets at this sale. This was the lesser of the two, paint was cracking and crazing all over this car, but still pretty.
Mercedes 240D limousine
Curios Mercedes 240D Limo, previously the property of the royal family in Monaco.
300SL Roadster at Gooding and Co Arizona 2013
300SL Roadster Sold for $700k Friday afternoon at Gooding and Co. The first of two 300SL roadsters at their sale.
Mercedes 300SL roadster Russo and Steele
300SL Roadster at Russo and Steele, sold Saturday night for $660,000. Looks about market correct to me, if not well bought. Seller reluctantly lifted the reserve and let it go when bidding stalled at about $655k, auction company pressured hard to get it done.
1980 Mercedes 450SLC
1980 Mercedes 450SLC, perhaps the ‘worst’ (least desirable?) Mercedes of the week. Who had the bright idea to bolt on those pimp chrome wheels?
1969 Mercedes 280SL Russo and Steele 2013
One of the nicest 280SLs we saw all week, and sitting in the dusty gravel of Russo and Steele. My friend I went out to AZ with was the under bidder on this car… but that’s another story.
Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster at Gooding and co
Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster at Gooding and co, the nicest of the week, brought a hammer price of 1.4 Million. A big number for a roadster, but try to find another this nice with original Rudge wheels.
Mercedes 190SL RM Auctions
RM’s auctioneer and one of their analysts checking this 190SL out very carefully.
300SL Gullwing and Roadster RM Auctions Scottsdale
300SLs at RM.
Mercedes 280SL RM Auctions
Mercedes 280SL at RM Auctions.


Barrett Jackson Arizona Auction Bound, And RM, Gooding, Bonhams, Russo and Steele! DaveKnowsCars to Report from the Center of the Collector car World: 5 Days – 5 Collector Car Auctions


I’m headed to the airport in a few minutes… bound for Phoenix, AZ and what has become the center of the collector car world each January.

I will be attending 5 auctions… I’m on assignment for the SL Market Letter, so watch for a forthcoming article in that publication regarding the Mercedes-Benz scene in Arizona this January. I hope to pay particularly close attention to a handful of early 70s Mercedes 280SE 3.5 cabriolets that will be crossing the various blocks… in addition to the 300SLs and pagoda SLs.

I’m signed up for the Sports Car Market Insider Auction Tour at RM tomorrow, watch for a full report on that event as well.

My ride is outside honking… must run… I have  a feeling there will be a lot of that over the next few days!

More from the road. – DT

Porsche Porsche 911 Barn Find Update! Extraction Completed with the Help of Freedom Boat Service Professional Dave Bortner

Chasing Classic Cars Porsche

UPDATE: The ‘Chasing Classic Cars’ style rescue of this Porsche 911 from a barn in rural Minnesota is complete! If you missed the first posting on Dave Knows Cars about how my brother found this car on Craigslist, from the comfort of his home in Sweden, and how I went to check it out and made a deal to buy it, please visit that blog post on Dave Knows Cars by following this link.

Cahsing Classic Cars Porsche 911
Dave Bortner sets up the come-a-long so we can crank the Porsche up onto the trailer.
Best trailer hitch
What can’t you tow when you have a hitch like this?

The other night I went out to actually pick up the Porsche… I could have never pulled it off by myself, seeing how I don’t have a trailer or a tow vehicle. I called up a friend of mine who is probably THE GUY if you have a project like this. Dave Bortner, founder of Freedom Boat Service in Mound, MN is a real car guy, he’s also a real boat guy… his company restores, services and maintains vintage wooden boats. He has extensive towing experience (Perhaps you remember the blog post last year from our epic 20 hour drive, towing a vintage boat, to the Keels and Wheels show at the Seabrook Yacht Club near Houston, TX.).

Porsche Barn Find
Bortner set the trailer up just right, we didn’t even scrape the front spoiler of the 911.

Dave has a couple of tow vehicles, the vehicle we drove out to get the Porsche in was a Chevy Tahoe Quadrasteer (4 wheel steering) with a big car trailer hook up to the back. To make a long story short, Dave backed the trailer right up to the barn entrance, which was a little tricky, as there were fences to dodge as well as an old derelict tractor right by the entrance. Dave masterfully maneuvered the Tahoe and trailer into place while the cars’ owner and I watched… along with some horses and about 20 cats.

farm cats
Just some of the cats watching over us while we pulled the car out of the barn.
farm cat
I can’t tell if this one approves of what we’re doing or not.
Porsche 911 horse
Straining to get a last look at the yellow Porsche before it’s hauled away.

Dave had all the necessary straps, hooks and gear to get the job done. We used a ‘come-a-long’ to ratchet the car up onto the trailer, once in place we strapped it down with the two hooks in the front and suspension components in the back. We finished up just as the sun went down and headed back to the storage facility Dave has been gracious enough to give me a little space in to store the car until my brother comes over from Sweden to see the car and arrange shipping.

David Tobin Porsche 911
Bortner did most of the work, I just jumped in for this photo so it LOOKED like I was really doing something.

These sorts of adventures are a lot of fun… I guess they’re a lot of work, but it seems fun if you’re doing it with the right people. Thanks Dave!

Dave Bortner Freedom Boat Service
Dave Bortner of Freedom Boat Service, Porsche on the trailer, ready to go!

1973 Mercedes 280 Sedan in Classic Caledonia Green over Parchment Interior For Sale on Craigslist in Anoka, MN Just $2,200!


While cruising Craigslist here in the Twin Cities last night I came across this cute 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280 sedan in my favorite 1970s Mercedes color, Caledonia Green. The matching hub caps are typical of these cars, but this green color is just so period correct, it’s all I can do not to drive right up to Anoka and buy the thing. Because it’s a 1973 model it still has the small, chrome bumpers, much more attractive and cleaner looking that the battering ram bumpers that were federally mandated by the U.S. Government for cars built in 1974 and later. If you’re going to get one of these, you have to get a ’73 or older.
1973 Mercedes Parchment Interior

I believe I saw this same car on Craigslist about a year and a half ago, there can’t be that many in the Twin Cities this color. This has the same dual overhead cam inline 6 cylinder engine that I have in my 1973 280 Coupe, these engines are reliable and run like tops… mine just finished 500+ uneventful miles during the 90+ degree humid heat wave we have last weekend while participating int he Inaugural Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally. It wouldn’t bother me to have a sedan like this for such events, if it has A/C, it’s a huge plus.

As usual, details in the Craigslist ad are few and far between. It’s simply described as “Not perfect, but VERY good condition for a 40 yr old car.” So you’ll have to get underneath and see if it has any rust, from the photos, it looks pretty decent. It has the very light colored interior used at the time formally known as “Parchment” which is a nice contrast to the Caledonia Green exterior. If it checks out and isn’t rusty, $2,200 seems like a fair price. See the actual Craigstlist Ad here.

280 sedans never bring the money that coupes do, they trade in a think market, but if you’re looking for a unique car that’s generally very reliable, this is a lot of car for not very much money. Don’t expect to get rich when you sell, but if well maintained moving forward, you’ll probably come out okay.

Adventure, Love, Loss and Redemption in VW Bus: How I was Reunited with my Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia 12 Years After Selling It

Dave Tobin-Vanagon-Westfalia

You might ask yourself, ‘What does this post have to do with Mercedes-Benz vehicles?’ The short answer is, nothing at all, but this is a story worth telling.

This blog post isn’t about Mercedes-Benz cars or SUVs, it’s not about ‘great deals’ or 1.99% APR financing. This is about experience, human experience and adventure on the open road of America. It’s about deciding to do something you’ve always wanted to do and doing it… but of course, like all things on the Dave Knows Cars Blog… it revolves around a vehicle, a very special vehicle… a 1982 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia Camper. For those who aren’t familiar with this VW, the Westfalia is a standard Vanagon that has had a camper conversion done by the German company, Westfalia. Each VW Westfalia is equipped with a pop up camper top, two queen sized beds (one in the top, one in the bottom), a two burner gas stove with propane tank mounted under the van, a sink with electric faucet and 13 gallon water tank, a refrigerator, two fold out tables, swiveling front seats (so you can turn them around and hang out in the back), cabinets, drawers, a closet with rod for hanging clothes and vanity mirror, power inverter with 110V electrical wall outlet as well as exterior electrical and water ‘hook ups’… essentially a small house on wheels.

It has an air cooled engine, not unlike the engines in Volkswagen Beetles of the late 1970s, this van weighs about 4,000 pounds and has a whopping 67 Horsepower (not a joke), I was passed by a hay truck in Pennsylvania once, going up a hill (that’s not a joke either). It has a 4 speed manual transmission.

Dave Tobin, 25 years old in 2000... just beginning the great AdVANture.

You might want to go to the bathroom and grab a beverage, and maybe a box of Kleenex if you’re the sentimental type (like me) then start reading…

It was 1999, I was 24 years old, living in downtown Chicago. After just a couple of years at my first job out of college, I realized I was in a soul crushing, dead end, corporate black hole. I started squirreling away money with the intention of buying a Westfalia, quitting my job and going on the road… with no particular destination in mind, the roads I would travel, back roads only, were to be my destination…

After looking around and making some calls, all over the country, I found an ’82 Westfalia in Greeley Colorado on AutoTrader for $4,600. It looked completely original and intact in the photos. I called the guy, a college professor, and liked what I heard. I always thought I’d get a later wasserboxer model, but this example just seemed to speak to me. I booked a one way ticket to Denver, took a wad of hundred dollar bills and flew away.

My brother was living in Vail, CO at the time, so he had come down to pick me up at the airport to take me out to see this van in Greeley. I didn’t have much of a backup plan, if the van was bad or rusty or not what I wanted, I would have to buy another plane ticket, but when I got there, I was very pleasantly surprised.

Original white paint, ZERO rust, everything worked (except maybe the heat), all the accessories and screens were intact… the only thing missing was the front table top… not a big deal. I gave the guy his full $4,600 asking price, which seemed completely fair at the time. I got in and headed back to Chicago. It was late February or early March if I recall so it was a cold ride home but I was smiling and giggling to myself most of the way, I couldn’t believe it… I couldn’t believe I was driving this thing. I had never driven one in my life, in fact, it was the first one I had ever really been in.

Back in Chicago I prepared for the trip for about the next year… saving money, going through the van to make sure it was really ready for months on the open road. In March of 2000 I walked into my boss’s office with a piece of paper, my resignation, and put it in front of him. It really caught him off guard, he had spent a lot of time mentoring me, showing me the ropes of the international import export business. I was on the fast track in the organization and he just couldn’t understand why I’d ever want to leave. “Dave, if you play your cards right you’ll have your own branch in a couple of years, why are you doing this?”

I didn’t have a good answer, “It just isn’t what I want to do” is all I could come up with. I told him I was going to travel the country in a VW bus and then maybe go to graduate school… the truth is, I didn’t know what I’d do after the trip… if it ever ended, I was kind of hoping I’d figure it out on my way.

I left in mid-April of 2000… equipped with a lap top, digital camera (1.5 mega pixels!) and a 56k cellular modem I could hook up to my cell phone. I planned to take pictures and write a new web page entry at the end of each day’s travels, upload it to my website so friends, family and former colleagues could follow along (this was before the days of blogs… at least I had never heard of a blog at this point). Of course, everyone thought I was insane. ‘Why is he doing this?’ they chattered amongst themselves.

I turned 26 years old about a week into the trip. It was a big birthday… because it was the year 2000. All my life I remember thinking… in the year 2000 I’ll be 26, man, that’s a long way off, that’s old, etc. I spent the next 6 months traveling the country… on state routes, East, West, all over. Route 66 to L.A., PCH up the CA coast, all over.

People followed updates on the website to see what I was doing, where I was. I met all sorts of people and did all sorts of things, from planting corn on an Amish farm in Pennsylvania with a team of Belgian horses to boiling crabs for dinner on a California beach with a crab fisherman, I visited the ‘Largest Totem Pole it the World’ in Foyil, OK, I excavated Anasazi ruins in Arizona, I drove 17 Mile Drive in Monterey, CA and attended the 50th Anniversary Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance… all sorts of things. See all the details of the vehicle, what was packed into it and the trip itself by visiting the Official AdVanture USA website.

Tobin-Volkswagen Westfalia Amish-Farm
Planting corn with a team of Amish mules, Lancaster County, PA, May 2000.
Oklahoma Route 66, 'World's Largest Totem Pole' June 2000.
Westfalia at an IN-N-OUT Burger, Los Angeles, CA, July 2000.
Rubbing elbows with the beautiful people, Ralph Lauren in his 1936 Bugatti Type 57 Atlantique, Pebble Beach, CA August 2000.

I dubbed the trip “The AdVANture, an adventure in a van”. The newest version of the website and travelogue can be found here: Check out the AdVANture Travelogue: 12,000 miles on the back roads of America in a VW Westfalia
Although this newest iteration isn’t totally complete at this point.

In mid-September I was back in Colorado… in Vail, high altitude for an air cooled VW. After a few days with my brother I went out to start the van… it turned over, but wouldn’t fire. So with the help of his neighbor, an Australian VW mechanic, and a timing light… we reset the ignition timing to run at high altitude. I was to set it back to normal, sea level timing that evening once I reached Western Kansas.

Things didn’t go well that day… I was too low, too fast and to make a long story short, the oil light went on, my rear view mirror filled with blue / white smoke… I had blown the engine.

Towing it away, blown engine and all... I wouldn't drive the Westfalia again for almost 12 years.

Luckily I wasn’t far from my parents’ house in Kansas, about three hours away. A tow truck came to get me and we towed the Westy back to my parents’ house. My dad had the nicest 1991 Vanagon Westfalia I had ever seen at the time, it had about 20,000 miles on it, he had purchased it because he thought we’d go camping together in our vans, but we never did. He ended up selling it. I can only think what someone would pay for that van today.

Anyway… I sold the van to my father, sort of a ‘mercy sale’. It had a blown engine and he was generous enough to give me $2000 for it and a plane ticket back to Chicago… I got on with my life.

The AdVANture was a wonderful experience, the people I met, the things I saw. It all felt like a dream in the end.

My father ordered a GEX engine for the Westy, had it installed and eventually sold it, in 2002, to a young kid in his 20s not far from my folk’s home in Kansas.

So ten years went by… life happened, I moved to Minneapolis, got married, bought a house, started working for Mercedes-Benz (something I wish I would have done years earlier). I’ve owned some vintage cars since… mostly vintage Mercedes, an Alfa Romeo… but in the back of my mind VW campers always lurk… and so do I , on VW forums like ‘the Samba’ discussion boards, the classifieds. I’ve always been impressed with ‘the Sambas’ execution, content, it is a great VW resource… I’d comb the classifieds just seeing what was out there. The market blows me away, the money Westfalias pull these days, even the old ones with lots of miles, they have a cult following.

So, a couple of weeks ago a friend of mine from high school called me because he was interested in buying a Westfalia. We haven’t seen each other in years, but we talk a couple of times a year… he lives in Cincinnati, I’m in Minneapolis. It’s one of those friends you can go months and months without talking to but when you finally get on the phone, it’s like you were never apart. He wanted a Type II, something from the late 70s and wanted my help finding one.

That night about midnight I hopped on carsabi.com, a nationwide Craigslist aggregator that allows you to search Craigslist nationally. I was looking around for a van for my friend in Cincinnati and a white Vanagon Westfalia caught my eye, listed for sale in Kansas.

The ad said something like this: 1984 Volkswagen Westfalia. Camper. Approximately 144,000 miles, new engine installed in 2001, only 7,000 miles on new engine. $4,300.

Wow, I thought… I ended my trip with about 136,000 miles on my van, my van got a new engine about that time and my parents live about 2 hours from the town in Kansas where this van was. Could it be? Could this be my old van? I kept looking at the ad.

There were the usual 4 poor quality Craigslist photos, all bad angles, bad lighting, it was a rainy day when the photos were taken and kind of dark… really bad photos and they were driving me nuts.

It had black steel wheels and chrome hub caps, like my van, but it was listed as an ’84 model.

Mine was an ’82 and I don’t think chrome hub caps were stock equipment for an ’84, I’ve seen later Vanagons with the old school chrome hub caps, but someone would have had to go out of their way to put them on.

This van had a black bra on the front… I had put a black bra on the front of my van.

The pictures were so dark I couldn’t tell if there was a lower grille for a wasserboxer radiator peeking through the bra.. the whole front just looked like black bra… could it be an air cooled ’82 with no radiator grille, I just couldn’t tell.

All of this was happening in like 15 seconds, my heart began to race. There was a photo of the stove and camper area, stickers were plastered all over the cabinets, but the interior color was right.

I finally noticed, a 3/4 shot of the passenger’s rear… through the closed van I could see that the head rests were different on the front seats. Oh my god… I thought.

Early Vanagons came with front seats without arm rests and solid head rests, later Vanagons got head rests with a ‘cut out’ in them and seats with arm rests. I always wanted later seats in my ’82 so I could have the arm rests on my long trip. After about 5 and a half months of my 6 month road trip I was in Utah and passed a junk yard as I was driving up a hill, I could see down into the junk yard and saw a row of old Vanagons. I pulled in there and bought a blue seat out of about an ’86 Vanagon… it had arm rests and that head rest with the cut out.

I looked at the interior photo of the stove and camping area of the van and could just see the back edge of a blue seat on the driver’s side… that was the seat I bought at that junkyard in Utah in September of 2000. OH MY GAWD! This must be my van, mistakenly listed as a 1984 model, not two hours from my folks place in Kansas.

I couldn’t call the guy that night as it was past midnight. I figured I’d call when I got to work in the morning. I could hardly sleep that night… All these questions were ripping through my mind. Is this really my old van? Could I buy this thing? Could I really do this, I already have a ’73 Mercedes coupe in the garage, what will my wife say? All the things that go through your mind.

I got to work in the morning and the phone just started ringing, I was busy all morning and finally called the number in the Craigslist ad at about noon.

“Hi, I’m calling about the Volkswagen Westfalia on Craigslist” I said when the guy answered the phone.
“Oh, yeah, you just missed it, I just sold it” he replied
My heart sank, I felt sick.
“Oh no” I said
“Well, I didn’t sell it, I traded it in for a Corvair this morning at a dealership”
“Really? I saw it was listed as a 1984 model, is it really an ’84?” trying to make sure it wasn’t an ’84.
“You know, I’m not sure” he said “I bought it from my buddy in March and I thought I was going to keep it and fix it up, but I just don’t have the time so I traded it in”
Seriously? Who doesn’t know what year their car is?
“Okay, can you tell me the name of the dealership where you traded it in? I think this might be my old van and I’d really like to buy it back” I blurted this out… then realized it was probably best if I didn’t let anyone know about my history with the van… if the dealer found out they may smell desperate blood in the water and raise the price.

The guy told me where he traded it in and I called them right away.

“Hi there, I hear you just got an old Volkswagen camper in on trade this morning” I said to the guy who answered.

“Uh, yeah, we did, how did you find out about that so quick?” the guy asked me… it was a little dealership in North central Kansas.

I told him I just called the guy who had it on Craigslist.

“I’ve got a quick question” I continued “what year is it? The Craigslist ad said it was an ’84.”
“Well, I’ve got the title right here, let me see…. it looks like it’s an ’82”


“Okay… so, I think I might be able to take that off your hands” I said real confident like “it will be a quick sale for you”.

“Well,” the guy started, “there was a guy here when it was being traded in who is interested in it, he put some money down on it and is working on getting his financing lined up.”

Are you kidding? I thought… you can’t finance an old $4000 VW Vanagon with a non-original engine that needs work.

“Really?” I said “I’ll give you $500 more than whatever that guy is paying you, let me give you my name and number so if his deal falls through you can call me. I have a stack of hundred dollar bills sitting next to me and I’m ready to buy it now.” I was desperate and didn’t frankly care if he knew… I’m sure he smelled blood in the water, but it’s important, especially if you’re out of town, to be very clear about your interest if you want to be taken seriously by the dealer on the other end of the phone. I waste hours a month with potential out of town buyers who find a car on the internet, but I’m smart enough to treat each one as if they’re dead serious, until I learn otherwise, as a result, I sell a lot of cars out of state and ship cars all over the world… the web has changed everything in that regard.

1982 Volkswagen Westfalia
Camping in the Redwood Forests of Northern, CA - August 2000.

Ultimately, it took a couple of days… but the other guy’s deal fell apart (of course), my dad drove up two hours to look at the van and to confirm what I suspected, that this was the van I lived in while traveling the country 12 years ago. My dad test drove it and said it drove really well, the engine is great, suspension was still good (I had installed KYB gas adjust shocks on it and new Michelins right before my trip, they were still on the van). I paid $4,500 for it… which was certainly full retail, but my dad paid almost that much for the engine and install from GEX.

Apparently it’s been sitting out in a Kansas field for the better part of 8 or 9 years so the fiberglass pop top is really faded and all mildewed, the paint is dull and chalky, but still no rust anywhere. The pop top canvas is ripped all over, the ash trays were full of cigarette butts, but the van doesn’t smell, amazingly. There were Grateful Dead and Phish stickers all over it… so it certainly served someone else well for their travels. The cabinets still had food and junk in them, but no mice or bugs. Some cosmetic TLC and it will be just like it was, mechanically it’s awesome and still… no rust… but the seams are starting to crack here and there, so it’s good I got to it when I did.

I sent the money to the dealer and had a transporter pick it up. It was delivered to me here in Minnesota, in the parking lot of Sears Imports, about two weeks ago. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at when it rolled out of the transporter. I just couldn’t believe it. I even got tears in my eyes, which I tried to hide from all the guys at work who had come out to see this thing. I had been talking about it for the past week while I was Fed-Exing paperwork back and forth and waiting for the transporter, everyone at work knew about it. Most of them think I’m nuts… “You paid how much for that piece of junk?” I would have paid $10,000 if I had to… it didn’t matter, it was fate.

It’s sitting in my driveway and I still can’t believe it. My wife has fully embraced the Westfalia and my enthusiasm for it (God I love her). While I was cleaning the outside she took the shop vac to the inside and went through the whole thing with 409, twice. She asked if they made new carpets for Westfalias and I said yes… you can get just about everything for these, she’s all about a new carpet kits, all the way around, and new pop top canvas and on and on.

So… what was once lost is now found… through the years I have thought about that trip, often, and thought about the wonderful vehicle that made it all possible. So many people don’t understand the fascination… it’s just an old VW van, ‘You’re driving that thing across the country?” people would ask. Hell yeah I am.

I always wondered… “Would I ever own another?”… I figured I would at some point, but I never imagined I’d own the same one, the exact vehicle, but here I am and it’s sitting in the driveway.

I probably won’t quit my job and take off again, but I will certainly have some adventures, new and different adventures, in this wonderful vehicle again. This time, with my wife, with our kids when we have them, new adventures in a new stage of life, but the same vehicle, a vehicle that transcends so many things and has the ability to bring so many different kinds of people together. Just a vehicle? No Way… it’s a Volkswagen Westfalia.

May 2012, the day it rolled off the transporter... needs some TLC, but it's all there.

Local Twin Cities Mercedes-Benz Club Member’s Vintage 1971 280SL Featured in Brooks Brothers TV Advertisement

Click screenshot to view ad on YouTube.

I got a call from my buddy Bruce Kelly over at Lake Country Classics a couple of weeks ago about an advertising agency here in Minneapolis that needed a vintage Mercedes-Benz roadster for a TV commercial. Bruce just seems to be the guy that people call for this sort of thing no matter what kind of car is needed, people just know to call him. He called me to see if I could get a hold of a friend we have in common, and fellow Twin Cities Mercedes Benz Club member, Mark Flaten. The ad agency was looking for a vintage Mercedes roadster, and ideally, one in a light color, to use in a Brooks Brothers TV spot. Bruce and I both thought of Mark’s car… an absolutely pristine 1971 280SL roadster in the classic Mercedes color combination of silver over red leather.

Bruce’s shop, Lake Country Classics, finished a complete restoration of Mark’s car last year. It is one of the most pristine and correct cars of this type and vintage I’ve ever seen. I got Mark on the phone, told him that this ad agency was doing a Brooks Brothers ad and they were looking for a car like his the next day… and that if he was interested he should give Bruce a call ASAP. He did, and…

About a week later, Mark forwarded me this link to the finished ad on YouTube. They did indeed use his car for several hours the day after we spoke on the phone. He was well paid for the three hours the agency used his car, he was on set the entire time with the car. In the end it’s a couple of seconds on film, but it’s a fun story and will certainly ad to the interesting history of the car. Click this link to view the video on YouTube.