By: Sanaa Kamal
RAMALLAH, Jan. 21 (In Palestine Today) — Despite financial hardships, a gathering of passionate Palestinian owners of Volkswagen (VW) Beetle cars has been formed in the West Bank to help keep the legacy of the classic car alive.
Ramzi Akram, one of the team founders from Nablus city, said the goal of establishing the team is to bring lovers of vintage cars together.
“The gathering is also meant to raise awareness of the importance of owning and preserving such pieces of arts,” the middle-aged man told Xinhua, adding that keeping such old cars requires much money for maintenance and spare parts.
“The team dubbed the Beetles, includes more than 40 vintage VWs from various cities of the West Bank,” Akram said, adding that the team’s members organize various events and activities, mostly trips to mountainous areas.
“Looking at this number of cars made in the last century makes you feel that you live in the past,” he happily said.
“The team conducts various recreational activities for the owners of old cars. We sometimes participate in social events such as weddings and national holidays,” Akram, who also owns a modern car, told Xinhua.
He explained that the team members also help each other with their expertise as well as getting spare parts.
In 2019, the German carmaker VW ceased production of the iconic Beetle, 80 years after it first hit the streets.
Ayman Rowais, a Palestinian in his 30s from the West Bank city of Nablus, is one of the founders of the team; he also owns a unique classic VW Beetle.
“My car was the first Beetle to obtain official licenses in the Palestinian territories back in 1964,” he told Xinhua, adding that the gathering serves as a bridge between the past and present.
Rowais said he is in love with vintage cars, “although owning them is costly because of the expensive maintenance and spare parts.”
“I bought this 1964 Beetle from a female relative of mine five years ago… having this car was like a dream for me,” said Rowais, who owns a grocery.
“The car is now a member of the family… my 3-year-old son is fond of it and has three toy cars of the same kind.”
Rowais is always keen to make periodic mechanical and body maintenance and adjustments to his 57-year-old car to keep it healthy.
“Maintenance is really costly and the spare parts are extremely expensive because they are very scarce, but still, driving and owning vintage cars is really amusing,” he said, as he checked the engine’s oil.
Rowais added that he will never think of selling his dream car, and he will buy more vintage cars whenever he can.
“I refused several good offers to sell my Beetle… I’m now planning to do a full restoration for the car in the near future,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Salama, another owner of classic vehicles from Jenin city, said he owns four Beetles, adding that he “fell in love with this kind of cars” since he was a university student 26 years ago.
According to Salama, the main obstacle facing owners of the Beetle cars in Palestine is the scarcity of spare parts, revealing that he sometimes orders spare parts from Germany.
The 50-year-old man said he cannot give up the hobby of owning this type of cars, adding that they represent more than vehicles to him.
“My cars represent history and memories, that is why I barely drive them… I love to see them clean and healthy, because they meant much to me,” said Salama, who still keeps his father’s 1946 vintage car.