Spotty Dotty: The Next Chapter for the 1954 Oval Beetle

Spotty Dotty: The Next Chapter for the 1954 Oval Beetle

Part of the JK Team
Published 1 May 2024
Carolyn Kirvan-Cranfield

I knew it was dangerous. We’d been watching the series detailing Spotty, the little VW Beetle, being recommissioned by Dom Chinea and Honest John.

There’s something about these little cars that endears them to you. I blame Herbie. You just fall for their charms every time.

Shaun and I have worked at JK for many years. We have also lived and breathed VW for well over 20 years, both as owners and by working in the industry.

We’ve owned Doris, a 1973 Westfalia Bay Window, for all that time and a couple of Beetles too – although my much-coveted Squareback still evades me.

For about the last six of those years Shaun has been desperate for another Beetle.

So, when I felt myself falling for the dusty little Bug in the YouTube videos, that had been living in a garage untouched, but still much-loved by Dom’s mum Sally, for the previous 15 years - I kind of knew I was in trouble.

Shaun’s proximity to the car being displayed on the JK stand, at the 2023 Volksworld show, also meant that I knew I was in a world of danger. He’d called to tell me all about how awesome it was as soon as he had driven it in off the trailer.

Ordinarily we’d have been safe. We just wouldn’t have been able to afford it but the passing of someone very dear meant that I had a little inheritance money squirreled away – for a new kitchen!

I was travelling to Sandown Park to visit, when Shaun called, slightly panicked and a little belligerent, to tell me about the attention the little car was getting.

“Honestly, Caz, you’d love it… it’s such a great little car!”

I think I said the words before registering that they had left my mouth.

“Well, if it’s really that good – as soon as Dom gets there make him an offer!”

I actually think I shocked myself. I’m sure it was the last thing Shaun was expecting me to say – given my previous resistance to the idea of another Beetle.

I knew it was foolish but for some reason it didn’t matter.

Cue a slightly manic period of waiting for messages to be relayed, back and forth, and Dom stopping in to ask about our intentions for the car – prior to relaying both my answer and the offer to his mum – before we shook hands next to the little Beetle that I had offered on without ever seeing in person.

I may also have registered, slightly puce red, faces looking on and did hear later that significantly higher offers had been made, and rejected, post our agreement.

I am extremely thankful that Sally trusted our intentions and was happy to see it find a new home with our family.

Obviously, what I said had made a difference to Sally, Dom’s mum, in terms of how we were intending to look after her little Bug.

I was a little nervous though - my new kitchen had no cooking facilities and was just a smidge under 70 years old!

I had never driven her - our previous Beetle was horrible to drive and bounced so much on the road that my foot permanently jumped on and off the accelerator and I’d hated it!

But I had a moment of calm. When my daughter, who finds loud noises and crowds quite difficult, and I, sat in the car and slammed the doors shut. Instantly the bustling noise outside fell silent and we both felt safe.

It was though the little car had whispered.

“It’s okay, I’ve got you. I’ll keep her safe.”

Which, I guess is a very parental way to imprint my need to protect my daughter, on metal and parts, but I still believe that’s exactly what I felt. (The thought of that moment makes me a little teary even now!)

And so, a year on. What is the story.

Well, Spotty - became Spotty Dotty – now mostly referred to as Dotty.

She is much loved – much to Doris’s general disgust!

She has offered up a steep learning curve. But both Shaun and I are hands on people who have relished the opportunity to get stuck in.

The original engine had a few teething problems and is not currently in the car - but is being rebuilt by us ready to return - and an age-appropriate engine takes us happily around. We also now have a very intricate knowledge of the 28pci carb!

We go out every time the sun is shining – she is fair weather only. I make no apologies. She’s lasted this long, and she deserves special treatment!

Her original paint is protected with regular coats of boiled linseed oil.

She’s been to a few shows and is often on our local high street on a Sunday morning when we take a drive out and stop for breakfast or a coffee.

She is unchanged. Loved as she is. Which is exactly the promise we made to Sally.

Dotty is an absolute dream to drive. So smooth (Shaun is often relegated to the passenger seat, or we swap mid-way, because we both love to drive her so much!).

She may be slow - and often overlooked by those who do not understand her heritage, but we do not care. Sure, she is old and a little weathered, but boy does she have class.

She is a proper survivor car. Mainly because Sally loved her enough to want to hold onto her, long after she was no longer driven, and kept her tucked away in a garage.

As for the new kitchen, well now, I’d have to sell a car, and frankly I’d rather be out eating up the miles in Dotty…

If you are interested in coming along on Dotty’s adventures, you can follow her on Instagram @spottydotty55oval

Spotty Dotty is a RHD Oval Beetle. Manufactured in 1954, a 1955 Deluxe model. Owned by Caz, long-time member of the JK Team.

Words and Pictures: Carolyn Kirvan-Cranfield

2 months ago