OSLO - My newspaper in Norway, Dagbladet, ordered a New Beetle from a dealer in Canada one hour after the Beetle was presented for the first time at the Detroit auto show. Even then, I was ninth in line.
The customer on the contract in Canada was my daughter, a Canadian. The dealer, Capilono Volkswagen, was not told that I would be flying over to Canada and exporting the car to Europe when it was delivered.
Delivery was delayed several times. The dealer never did know what colors he would receive. The color yellow, which I wanted, could not be delivered. Salesmen at the dealership said it was because paint did not hold to the plastic bumpers.
Finally, on 9 April, the car arrived at the dealership, and I flew to Vancouver. In a week, I drove across Canada and the USA to New Jersey, where I put the car on a ship bound for Europe.
In my life as an automotive journalist, I have never been in a car that turned so many heads or attracted so much comment from strangers.
The blue New Beetle is now on a car transporter headed to Europe.
Volkswagen does not like what we are doing, as the car is imported on the gray market. We are unlikely to get official service or warranty coverage in Europe.
What will Dagbladet do with our New Beetle?
Within a week of arrival, the car will be put through the Swedish moose test by Teknikens Varld. This is the test that the Mercedes-Benz A-class failed. I am interested in the results, because the car seemed to me to be badly affected by high winds.
We will test the car ourselves, and we will present it at shows around Norway and northern Europe. As it arrived in Europe as a used car, it will be driven on its Canadian license plates for four months.
Companies, shops and organizations that have any sort of promotion this summer are calling to borrow the car. It will attract attention.
A movie company called me and asked for the car. I have also received around 30 telephone calls from people interested in importing New Beetles privately. And I have been offered a price of $6,500 above the $19,100 I paid for it, if I would sell it upon arrival.
Interest is high, indeed.