cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Bryan
Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #82: That one time my VW Quantum Coupe was used to rob a bank

“I think that we may safely trust,” Thoreau wrote, “a good deal more than we do.” Let me tell you, Hank Dave would rewrite that sentence if he knew me. I trust everyone, strangers and friends alike. I have no fewer than seven guitars on loan to various people, and in two cases I’ve forgotten who actually possesses them. I never bother to lock the door when I leave the house, a habit that has alternately flummoxed and enraged the last three people to share that domicile with me. Over the past fifteen years I’ve served as an unofficial payday loan provider to my writers, my friends, my family. Either I’m a born sucker or a truly majestic soul. It’s probably the former.

 

There might be a genetic reason for this behavior; I’m almost entirely German, and Germany has traditionally been what they call a “high-trust society”. It might be the way I was raised, among mostly intact families in friendly neighborhoods. Maybe it’s because I read Thoreau early and often in the formative years. Whatever the reason, my excessive tendency to trust has rarely backfired on me — until, that is, the day a country sheriff told me that my 1982 VW Quantum Coupe, and by extension the owner of said coupe, namely moi, might be on the hook for a spot of the ol’ robbery-homicide.

 

*vinyl record scratch* You’re probably wondering how I found myself in this situation. Well, it started when … Read the full column on Hagerty.com:

 

https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact-82-that-one-time-my-vw-quantum-coupe-was-use...

 

22 REPLIES 22
drjim
Detailer

I had something similar happen to me, but it involved a 1984 Toyota Tercel which I'd traded in. I was living in SoCal at the time, and bought the car from my first wife. It started having smog-test issues, and it was on it's third extension from the DMV. My Credit Union was having huge car sale, so I traded it in on a very nice Jeep Grand Cherokee, and life was good.

Six months later, I get a letter from the Orange County (CA) Sheriff's department, informing me that the towing and impound fees were piling up, and what did I want to do about "my" car?

 

A quick phone call cleared it up, but somebody had been driving the car on an open title, with expired plates, for six months!

coreytrevor
Passenger

The "trust but verify" Reagan quote makes no sense.  You don't verify something if you trust it.  "Don't trust AND verify" is what he meant but it doesn't sound as folksy-nice.

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

It means "trust the people, verify the results". It resonated with the Russians, and in fact it's a very human thing to say. The only places in the world where people actually trust each enough enough not to verify important matters --- to do things on a handshake with people who aren't relatives --- were probably Western countries prior to the last round of demographic changes.
Sajeev
Community Manager

Jack's story reminds me of the day my parents traded in our 1981 Monte Carlo and took delivery of our new 1988 Cougar on a crisp Saturday morning in December. Fast forward to Saturday night and the local police called us around 10pm saying that our Monte Carlo was totalled in an accident by someone who didn't match the name in their system. 

 

Luckily the problem was all on the dealer's end (they bought it, they will do the paperwork) but it was a good lesson to learn! 

Joe
Hagerty Employee
Hagerty Employee

The notion of a Quantum as getaway vehicle reminds me of my older brother aiding and abetting a buddy of his who'd escaped our county jail in rural Michigan, when I was ten years old. They piled into my brother's silver Volkswagen Microbus (painted silver by my brother himself with a paintbrush) and headed south on I-75 toward Detroit, on a weekday afternoon in April 1975. Wasn't hard for the authorities to find a silver VW Microbus on I-75. My parents let my brother sit in jail for about 5 days to reflect on his error. 

wsb1960tr3a
Pit Crew

I sold a 1989 Jeep Cherokee to a guy who was getting a divorce and was in a child custody dispute. He used the car to kidnap his own children and flee the country in it to Mexico. It was shocking to read in the local paper.

sailudlow
Passenger
Sajeev
Community Manager

It's all in the DNA sometimes!  

Flashman
Instructor

Like "ATM machine", HTTP protocol is a tautology.  Not that it detracted from the overall excellence of the story.  It's good you're keeping things a little less controversial this week.

Jack_Hagerty
Moderator

You know that, and after years of writing scripts to interpret it in the pre-lib-www-perl days I know it, but we are the exceptions.
BobA
Pit Crew

I have a more direct experience. The full story would take a couple of pages, but here's the much abridged version. In June '83 I was transferred to Nassau Bahamas by my employer, a Canadian Bank with operations there. I bought a new '83 Corolla wagon. In early December of that year I was waiting by a condo development to give a colleague a ride to work, when a guy with a gun jumped in the car and we took a little sightseeing tour (I forget what he looked like, but I can describe the gun down to the last scratch). Some confusion arose and after perhaps 20 minutes, unable to find his cohorts, he lost his nerve and I was let out at the side of the road. The car was recovered later that day with a full tank of gas (almost empty earlier) and a pillow case (loot bag) in the back seat. It had been used to rob a competitor Canadian bank's branch at Marlborough and Navy Lion Rd.; about a 5 minute walk from my office in Rawson Square! I am leaving a ton out here, but those are the basics. As a side note, "my" gunman was a member of a gang run by a not so lovely chap known as L'il Ounce, who was later machine gunned Bonnie and Clyde style by the CID in the intersection of Wulff Rd. and Jerome, immediately outside one of our branches!  Ah, the expatriate life.

Sajeev
Community Manager

Now THAT is an amazing story! 

Tinkerah
Technician

Who complains about the smell of maple syrup? No wonder she's an ex-wife.

CJinSD
Advanced Driver

In my experience, people who need your help are often in that situations because they have already burned all of the people who should be helping them and they will burn you because they know no other way. When I give someone a car, I make sure that they register it in their name, and that is after we both sign a sales contract agreeing that it is their car. 

Rider79
Instructor

WAY too trusting, indeed.  As my dad used to say, "Never trust anybody, anywhere, anymore."  Yup - always sign, date, and complete the title when you sell the car - and keep the plates!

brb
Advanced Driver

Such - an - ugly - car.

SlowJoeCrow
Intermediate Driver

The ironic  thing is  back in the late 80s Car magazine called the Quantum Syncro wagon the ultimate getaway car because in the UK it was totally invisible 

Armchair67
Passenger

As the owner of a Sand Metallic 1982 Quantum Coupe, I appreciate ANY articles on this rare, unloved, uh, gem.  I've long been an air cooled VW guy, but as a kid growing up in the 80s, I liked the then new VWs too. I was about 8 years old in 1982 when these came out, and my next door neighbor's friend bought a brand new Quantum coupe, in a light metallic green. It was the only one I've ever seen in person, until I acquired mine earlier this year. It's one of those cars that I have truly wanted, a desire that is very hard to explain. I grew up in a house with an E Type Roadster, my vintage VWs, and other cars that are NOT like 1982 Quantum Coupes. My car is two owner example-the first owner had it from 1982-2015, and all of the paperwork, owners manual, etc. are with it. I treated it to a repaint, period BBS wheels, and have been scouring the earth for trim parts, which are nearly non existent. They only sold these for about 18 months in the USA, and only moved about 1,700 units. My VW is one of about 6 I know of that still exist here. Yes, it s a quirky car, but in a very 1980s VW way-a time after VWs air cooled years, but before they went to a nearly all rental car fleet-a time they sold Convertibles, two door Jettas, a rear engined van, and perhaps the first modern hot hatch. My car friends tease me about my enthusiasm for this car, and it has been nickamed the Coupay by them,  because that is much more in line with the "German engineered luxury car" that Volkswagen was doing its best to tout all Quantums as (as they did with the Dasher and 411/412 before it). The Coupay  is no ball of speed, that's for sure, but I like it for the reasons the author liked his-the roomy interior, cavernous cargo area, great mileage-as well as its nerdy brother of the Audi Coupe GT personality.

JDHilton
New Driver

Back in the late 1980s one of my wife's brothers in California had an adorkable Honda CRX. As it got older, he passed on the another brother in Colorado. When it seemed to be at the end of its useful life, that brother sold it. To someone who never got a new title--and then had a beef with someone and tried to run them off the road. In a CRX. Its useful life was definitely over then. 

Sajeev
Community Manager

Adorkable!  I am gonna use that word, love it! 

Armchair67
Passenger

This article appeared on the VW Quantum Owners and Enthusiasts group on Facebook (yes, this actually does exist). As the owner of a Sand Metallic '82 Quantum Coupe, you can imagine my excitement at the appearance of ANY article featuring this model. VW only sold about 1,700 coupes, which were available in the US only for 1982 and part of '83. My car happens to be a two owner model, with most of the paperwork going back to new. I cannot explain my affection for this oddity, but I've had it repainted and added BBS wheels and continue to scour the earth for non existent trim parts for it as though I was restoring some rare and highly desirable Packard.  Now that Volkswagen sells only rental cars, I do miss the day when the lot was filled with cars with personality-rear engine vans and slow selling coupes-and that is to say nothing of going back even farther when VW was still offering air cooled Beetles and Squarebacks. 

Soggytom
Passenger

Similar, but much less dicey story- I sold my 1987 Cimarron 5-speed (yes, there were such things) to a fellow with a signed, notarized title. He sold it to someone else (still on my title) who who jumped a median and cracked the radiator, so he kept refilling it. Until the night he was driving drunk, forgot to refill, and blew at least one head gasket. So he stopped on the side of the street and took a nap. In front of the police station. Long story short, I actually got the car back from impound for free (after I agreed not to press charges) since it was still legally mine, but the engine would never live again. He'd also seriously injured the unibody and suspension with the median jump, so it went to the great beyond. MORAL: Send a blank title with your notarized signature, BUT make sure you keep a copy. Like JB said- trust, but verify.