To Wave or Not To Wave?

To Wave or Not To Wave?

Part of the JK Team
Published 13 November 2020
Carolyn Kirvan-Cranfield

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To Wave or Not to Wave? That is the question.

As a precursor to this blog it’s important to point out that we are heavily in the “pro” wave camp!

No-one really seems to know where the customary VW wave originates from. As much as we might like to imagine it is not VW exclusive, and, a cursory nod amongst same vehicle type classics is commonplace. However maybe it’s because we own them but the acknowledgment shared between VW owners’ feels more friendly and in many ways more genuine.

For VW owners it would seem that the wave has not been borne out of a classic car stance. We have anecdotal accounts from those who remember riding in Splits, new off the forecourt, as their family member owners shared nods and waves.

It is likely that what started with new vehicles as an acknowledgement of clearly good shared taste has, like the vehicles themselves, evolved over time.

There are different waves too. There are no standards here!


  • The Shaka (Hang loose dude VW wave) originating in Hawaiian Surf culture. This one is reserved for the super cool, laid back types who are confident enough to pull it off!
  • The “I have the same!” reserved as a note of respect for owners of the same types – a kind of “good choice – I feel your pain but I get it” level of recognition
  • The “I love all VW’s” (our favourite) an unashamed acknowledgement of all VW’s no matter what type
  • The nod for the slightly noncommittal types
  • The afterthought day dreamers wave; the one that happens as the other vehicle is already passing you, as you realise that they had waved, and you were too busy thinking about ****** (dinner/work/the pretty clouds/the traffic /pretty much anything really! – insert as necessary!). This one is a corker for guilt as you realise you just left them hanging – and we all hate people who do that!
  • The overly enthusiastic wave – coming from non VW owners who love your VW’s and the life they think you have because of it – or those of you who have forgotten that for whatever reason you are not driving your VW that day!
  • And finally, the “non-wave” for those moments when you realise mid –wave that there has been no response from the other vehicle and you try desperately to nullify your embarrassment by pretending it never happened!

It seems to further connect us as owners. Through shared experience and therefore respect. There’s something of a kinship, a sense that the community is alive and well.

However, whilst driving and enjoying our VW’s we have noticed a developing trend that has us worried, and, it seems that we are not the only ones. A browse through any number of forums confirms our worst fears. The VW wave is dwindling.

Some call it snobbery, some think it’s the growing number of work/play transporters (those that make it increasingly difficult to discern whether you are waving at a slightly bemused tradesperson or a campervanner)!

The other reason may be laid at the feet of our overly British sense of pride! Something about daring to wave in the face of a potential rebuff deals a fearful blow into the heart of our British sensibilities.

We’ve all been there – on the end of a wave rebuttal incident. Left hanging, down trodden, embarrassed, hurt and bemused!

It wears you down.


However, as daft as it sounds it is all part of it. There’s nothing quite like the wry little smile that spreads across your face as you share a moment of recognition with a fellow traveller, or watching the look of surprise as your non VW owning passenger tries to ascertain what just happened as you share a wave or a flash of lights with another driver. (Let the smug smile ensue – its okay we won’t judge you!)

We already feel pretty special driving our VW’s- no matter what age they are or shape they are in.

“Own”ership seems to exist on a slightly different plain!

So we are encouraging you all. Put aside the snobbery; leave the air-cooled verses water-cooled, new verses old differences at home. Leave that British fear of putting yourself out there and potentially looking stupid behind. Drive and enjoy your VW’s and wave manically at every owner you pass!

What’s the worst that could happen? Well maybe you’ll be left hanging, maybe you’ll wave at a person who subsequently thinks you’re a bit nuts, but hey, we guarantee you’ll leave a smile on their face. You never know if enough of us commit to a wave one by one, a smile at a time we’ll be helping to keep a tradition alive that is yet another reason these vehicles are so special…

Oh and if you see us on down the road, give us a wave, we’ll be the ones waving manically back at you!

Happy Trails.


Image from Pinterest.

4 years ago