Me And My Car

Bitten by the Beetle bug

Mr Bradley Fernando with his wife Diana, son Ayrton and his 1972 Volkswagen Beetle 1.2.
Mr Bradley Fernando with his wife Diana, son Ayrton and his 1972 Volkswagen Beetle 1.2. PHOTO: KONG YONGYAO

Football coach Bradley Fernando bought his VW Beetle from someone in a supermarket carpark

Mr Bradley Fernando, a 55-year-old children's football coach and avid Leeds United fan, has always had a soft spot for Volkswagen Beetles. Growing up, his family had a series of them.

"My mother worked for Glaxo and it used to give her company cars that were all Beetles," he recalls. His mother was a mothercraft nurse who helped new mothers care for their children and her job required her to travel to rural areas.

So it is unsurprising that his first and only car is a 1972 Volkswagen Beetle 1.2.

He came to own the brilliant green VW in 1995 by chance.

He was not on the hunt for one, but one day, upon hearing that his mother had seen a lovely little "Bug" in a supermarket carpark, he rushed down and made an offer to the owner "on the spot". He bought it for $26,000.

It is a good thing that his wife Diana, 45, who works in a company that provides teleconferencing equipment and setup, is a Beetle fan too. The couple have a son Ayrton, four, named after legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna.

They had their first date in 2002 in the Bug, which ferried them to a hawker centre beside the old National Library in Stamford Road. It also served as their wedding car in 2006.


    •Leeds United ball

    • Plank used to guide Ayrton's tricycle while he was learning to ride

    •Old cloths and bibs

    • Spare tyre

    • Wrench

Remarkably, the green Beetle is Mr Fernando's first car and, if he has his way, the only one he will need.

"I love it, my wife loves it," he declares. "My son loves it too. He thinks it's a Lotus, however."

It is just as well that the car has been relatively trouble-free, despite its years.

Its "relationship" with Mr Fernando is peppered with colourful stories of plucky resilience.

Like the time he and a friend drove the car to Kuala Lumpur to look for spare parts - without being able to engage the third gear during the entire journey.

Along the way, the wiper broke. It was quickly reattached with twine.

The carburettor then sprung a leak, which was plugged with a twig. The twig stayed in place for three years before being replaced by a machined-down one-cent coin. He had the engine rebuilt last year.

"A scout," Mr Fernando proudly calls his trusty VW. "Always ready to serve."

The Beetle is loved not just by his family, but also the children he coaches, who shout "Wow!" whenever they pass it after training.

Mrs Fernando adds: "We parked next to a Porsche once. We said to the driver that we loved his car and he said 'I love yours!'"

•The writer is an occasional contributor to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Bitten by the Beetle bug'. Print Edition | Subscribe