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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...

 

Replies (15)

Replies (15)

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. 

Hagerty Employee

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!

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 

New 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. 

Intermediate Driver

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.

Pit Crew
Passenger

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! 

Community Manager

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.

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. 

Passenger

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. 

New Driver

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!

Intermediate Driver

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.

Intermediate Driver

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.

New Driver

Such - an - ugly - car.

Intermediate Driver

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

Intermediate Driver