Crandall man takes 'best in show' with classic Beetle

·4 min read

Sep. 1—Blake Parson fell in love with Volkswagen Beetles when he was just a boy.

"My grandmother's brother had a 1973 Super Beetle, and he would come to the house every now and then to drop off vegetables or whatever for my grandparents," said the Crandall resident. "I just always thought it was great. and when I was about 14 he put that car up for sale."

Parson said even though he wasn't old enough to drive, he begged his parents to buy it for him.

"That was my first car," he said. "It was originally yellow, but by then it was faded yellow, primer and rust. It really wasn't in roadworthy condition by that point, and I wasn't old enough to drive anyway. I kept it at my dad's house. He had a big yard, and so I just drove it around the yard."

When he got old enough to drive, he traded it for a 1966 Beetle.

"It was in only slightly better shape," he said. "It was roadworthy. I drove it a little when I was 15 and 16. But it wasn't quite reliable enough to be an everyday car. I ended up getting a Corolla."

That 1966 Beetle would be Parson's last Volkswagen for almost 20 years. But his love of Beetles persisted, and earlier this year he found he had won a custom 1960 Euro Beetle restored by MetalMorphosis Customs of Danville, Alabama, and earlier this month, he entered the Beetle, named Paisley, in his first car show and won.

"Two years ago, I found a 1974 Beetle, just a shell, and bought it for $250," he said. "I was going to use it to get back into Volkswagens. That year I went to an air-cooled car show in Dawsonville. That's where I first met Rodney and Cate Culp of MetalMorphosis."

MetalMorphosis Customs is a small customizer that specializes in air-cooled Volkswagens.

"The year after I first met them, they announced they were going to be doing a charity raffle or auction," he said.

The proceeds would support Foundation 18, an orphanage founded by Cate Culp in Indonesia.

"They rebuilt and customized a 1963, ragtop Beetle," Parson said. "They sold, I think, 600 tickets at $50 each. I bought a few tickets. I had a really good feeling. I just knew in my bones I was going to win that car. I went to a couple of car shows where they showed it just to see it. Last December, they held the drawing, and I didn't win. It was someone in Washington state who bought one ticket."

Parson admits that "knocked the wind out of my sails."

The Culps had already announced they would be doing another charity rebuild this year.

"I bought a few tickets then and sort of put it in the back of my mind," he said. "I wanted to win it, but I just didn't have that sort of feeling like I did last year, especially since they sold 1,000 tickets this year."

On July 5, Parson was at work.

"I work for a pool company, and we are all over the place during the day," he said. "We happened to be working at the base of Grassy Mountain (in Murray County). There's usually no (cellphone) signal there. But my phone rings. It was an Alabama number, but not the city their shop is in. At first, I thought it was a spam call. But I knew they were going to announce the winner that day, so I went ahead and answered it."

Rodney Culp was on the line.

"He said, 'Are you sitting down?' and I said, 'Are you serious?'" he recalled. "The man I was working with said my hand was shaking so badly he thought I might drop the phone. It was unreal. It's still unreal."

A few weeks later, the Culps delivered Paisley to Parson's home.

"When they opened up that trailer, I could have cried," he said. "After they left and after all my family members who had come to see it had left, I took it down the road for a brief drive. But it's so nice, and they put so much work into it, I just don't want to drive it too much."

On Aug. 20 he took Paisley to Ringgold for the St. Jude Children's Hospital Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show.

"They had over 400 vehicles there, which I believe was a record number," he said. "My goal was to make the top 25. I thought I had a shot at that. As they started calling out the winners, I got a trophy for, if I recall, top five in my class. Then I got best import. That was a slightly bigger trophy. They kept calling out awards, and I was looking at this trophy, it had to be seven feet tall, for best of show. I started thinking 'Maybe I can win that,' and sure enough, they called my name."

Parson said he plans to enter Paisley in the classic car show at the annual Black Bear Festival in Chatsworth in October.