VW CLASSIC Herbie may not be there but plenty of other VWs will be

·3 min read
A classic 1966 VW van
A classic 1966 VW van
The 2006 Volkswagen New Beetle 2.5 coupe.
The 2006 Volkswagen New Beetle 2.5 coupe.

LAKELAND — The pandemic may have postponed many entertainment events, but it didn't slow down devoted Volkswagen owners.

The 16th annual Lakeland VW Classic rolls into the south end parking lots and areas of the RP Funding Center on Saturday and Sunday. More than 500 show cars will be parked for viewing, awards and prizes totaling $500, with more than $5,000 in door prizes awarded.

Eddy Varela, VW Classic organizer, said the Classic is the largest VW and other auto part swap meet for gear, parts, accessories and gadgets in Florida. He said about 10,000 people will visit over the two days to see more than 50 Volkswagen makes and models, from antiques to current, with air-cooled and water-cooled engines.

Saturday has a focus on VW vans and buses while Sunday has more emphasis on cars.

New for the 2022 Classic is an antique car cruise to Lakeland’s Silver Moon Drive-In starting at 7 at p.m. Saturday, said Varela, former owner of Dixieland Auto Parts. He said he got into VWs after seeing the movie “The Love Bug” as a child in 1968 and now owns about 35 Volkswagens.

“It’s just a fun family event to come out and have fun and it's affordable. There’s a lot of door prizes. And you get to see VWs you don’t see every day, from rare models to custom models.”

Among the Volkswagens on display will be iconic Beetles and Bugs, sleek Fastbacks and Hatchbacks and rare and unusual VWs such as multi-windowed microbuses, aerodynamic rail buggies and possibly a rare 1959 Beetle with an air conditioner attached to the passenger window.

Other rare and exotic VW models that may be on display are a 1962 single-cab pickup and a 1964 double-cab pickup. The VWs are arriving from throughout Florida and as far as Oklahoma, Texas and Georgia and Canada, Germany and England.

“I’ve been told we do a very exciting event; it has a good feel and everyone’s friendly and loves to talk about their cars. Some of these owners rarely bring their cars out at all but this is one of the shows they do go to,” said Varela.

There will be food vendors and entertainment. At the end of the show Sunday, there will also be the chance to win a Turn Key Car — a rail buggy — and custom-built long block motor by West Coast Core Volkswagen Products, Rosamond, California.

The show is always eclectic, said Joe Chuney of Tampa. The owner of a 1957 VW Oval Ragtop who runs the annual Quaker Steak and Lube Bug Fest in Pinellas Park, he said he’s visited the Lakeland VW Classic since the beginning.

“It’s one of the biggest shows of the year and the swap and parts meet is really good,” said Chuney, who began buying classic VWs in 1985. “You meet an array of different VW owners and see a big variety of cars.”

The Sunday awards will include Best of Show, $150; Best Engine, $50; Best Paint, $50; and Best Interior, $50.

The VW Classic pre-start is at 5 p.m. Friday, at the former Searstown in Lakeland on Memorial Boulevard. A joint show will be held with The Lakeland Cruisers all-car show.

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: 16th Lakeland VW Classic

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., March 19 and 20

WHERE: South end parking lots of the RP Funding Center, 701 W. Lime St., Lakeland

COST: $5 adults, children under 12 free; $8 parking

INFO: 863-660-7731; www.lakelandvwclassic.c

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: Herbie may not be there but plenty of other VWs will be