Students drive Beetles for size, mileage

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slug bugs:Senior Pam Brumit poses by her Vokswagen Beetle. She has had the car her entire Baker career.:Shawnee Barron

The slug bug is a car of many wonders.

Since its creation in Europe in the 1930s, the Volkswagen Beetle can be seen everywhere: squeezing into snug parking spaces, making sharp turns or even in vicious car games of slapping others at the sight of them.

Buying a first car is a monumental moment in most teenagers' lives. It represents both freedom and independence.

Graduate Assistant Daniel Easton's slug bug represents a legacy with his parents.

"I bought my Beetle in 2003," Easton said. "It was my first car I got right after finishing high school. I took it on a test drive and it drove good. The price was good and I fell in love with it. Also, a Beetle was both my parents' first car."

Junior Emily Burks choose a slug bug, not only because she wanted one, but for its safety benefits.

"I decided to purchase a slug bug because I always wanted one," she said. "Also, it was in my budget, and it is a safe car. That was something my parents liked about it."

For some, like senior Pam Brumit, a slug bug was not the first pick for a car, but a trip to the mall helped change her mind.

"When I turned 16, I hoped that my parents would get me a SUV," she said. "But they did not like that much. We were at the Oak Park Mall, and they have cars parked inside, and I saw a slug bug and said that might not be too bad either. So that was what I ended up getting."

Bill Wheeler, new car sales manager at Jim Clark Motors in Lawrence, said the Beetle and Beetle convertible are the second most popular cars sold at the dealership.

An advantage the slug bug has in comparison to other cars is its exclusive look, good gas mileage and the size of the car itself.

All these factors were part of what caught Burks' eye, and continue to keep her dedicated to her bug.

"Since it is small,  it can fit into tight parking spots," Burks said. "It is easy to parallel park and make sharp turns. If I were to get a new car, I would probably have to learn to drive again because bugs do not have front ends. Gas is nice too, since it does not take much to fill up, and it gets good gas mileage."

After a number of years with a car, an owner cannot help but grow an attachment or have memories stored within the exterior.

"I remember my freshman year, I went to buy a TV for my dorm room," Brumit said. "We tried to fit it into the car, but it would not fit. So we had to take it out of the box and shove the television in through the roof. It is pretty funny now."

Easton enjoys the bond he shares with other slug bug drivers and the significant road trips he and his car have taken together.

"There is a kind of bond between owners with the whole slug bug game," he said. "I have been on two road trips with my car. One was Memphis, Tenn., to Denver, Colo., to get my graduate degree, then Colorado to Baldwin (City) for my master's. I love my car, and I cannot wait for it to get out of the shop."

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