While there have been rumors of recent ant, spider and termite sightings across campus, one bug species is not being terminated: Volkswagen bugs.
Sophomore Jack Nunn, an art major from Seattle, Wash., is restoring Sybil, a pearlescent pink ’68 Volkswagen, for his girlfriend, sophomore Brittany Amling, an English major and education minor, before the school year ends.
Sybil came from an ad on Craigslist in Grants Pass, Ore.
“Jack found the car, and we had it towed to Linfield a couple weeks later,” Amling said. “Sybil arrived in March at three in the morning, and we have been working on her ever since.”
Nunn is teaching Amling how to restore Sybil in the parking lot outside of the College Avenue Apartments.
“I just love the body lines, shapes and how Volkswagens look and function,” Nunn said. “Newer cars have become such a banal thing. When you see an old car, you should have some sort of appreciation.”
Nunn suggested to Amling that she sell her 2008 Hyundai Elantra because insurance was too expensive. He said that buying a new car would be too costly, and Volkswagens are easy on the budget and a fun car to drive.
Working on Sybil has strengthened Amling and Nunn’s relationship.
“Sybil forces us to teach us to work as a team,” Amling said. “We are forced to rely on each other. A lot of gestures and grunts are involved and must be understood in a timely manner or else one of us would drop a piece of the engine on each other’s face.”
The couple began working on Sybil two months ago in Nunn’s dorm room in Whitman Hall. Nunn was testing the engine when he was asked by Residence Life and facilities to move out because the chemical emissions and cleaning fluid smells were disrupting students.
“Growing up, I worked on anything that was broken,” Nunn said. “I helped my dad fix washers and dryers, doors and anything that needed to be fixed. My dad was not a mechanic but was very intuitive and taught me how to restore things.”
His father gave him a Volkswagen for his birthday in sixth grade to repair on his own. Nunn finished building Rochelle during the summer before his freshman year of college.
“Volkswagens were the first cars I worked on,” Nunn said. “And, I fell in love.”
Nunn has applied what he learned while building Rochelle, a suave black ’69 Volkswagen that was painted robin’s egg blue, to Amling’s once red, green and yellow colored Sybil.
“I enjoy getting my hands dirty and learning how old cars work,” Nunn said. “It’s sad to see a bunch of quality old cars in a junk yard deteriorate. Every car is unique based on its year and model.”
Nunn is a proud Volkswagen owner. He recently got a tattoo of the Volkswagen logo on his inner wrist to remind him of his love for cars.
“If you own an old Volkswagen, regardless of who you are, you become a part of a group of people who love their vehicles,” he said.
Nunn dreams of one day opening his own hot rod restoration shop in Southern California. But for now, he will finish working on Sybil for Amling and spend his summer restoring a ’49 Hudson Commodore 6 four-door.
He plans to attend an auto restoration school in Seattle during the next two summers to learn more about building cars.
Upon its completion, Amling is excited to drive Sybil.
“I’ve always loved old cars, and Sybil is a pretty spunky one,” Amling said. “I’m excited to drive her and have people check out my car. The art of repairing cars begins with understanding what old, rusty cars can look like with a little tender, love and care.”
Sarah Mason/Features editor