City Survivor - Into the West

10/19/2013 7:36 PM
VW T2 Westfalia VW T3 Westfalia
Second- and third-generation VW Westfalias.


Today is a sad day, in a way that's all too common in a big city like Chicago. People are always moving through big cities on their way to Somewhere Else. Sometimes those people become your friends, and inevitably the day comes when they tell you they're moving on to that other place. You hope it won't happen, that they'll come to love your city the way you do and decide to stay, but most of the time it's clear it won't work out that way. I get it. I lived away from Chicago for a time, but I always felt like I belonged here. For these friends, the Pacific Northwest is the same. They have different coats for every five degrees of weather, nice bicycles, a Subaru, and equipment for just about any outdoor activity for you can think of. This is for them.


If your friends don't ever teach you anything, you probably aren't listening. Along with many other, more important things, these friends taught me that people get excited about all different types of cars. We tend to have an idea in our head about what makes a car exciting: speed, power, sound, style, luxury, capability, and all the other tropes advertising firms love to trumpet. What if a car could be exciting not by virtue of itself at all, though, but because of what one could do with it? My friend showed me that it could. I don't recall the exact conversation, but I'm pretty sure I was rambling about some car or another, when she interjected, "You know, I've really found myself wanting a Westy lately." I was shocked. The only time I ever had anything resembling an emotional reaction to a VW Microbus, said bus was on fire. Now, here was my friend, who had never really expressed interest in anything automotive, voicing the kind of longing I reserve for vintage Mopars, and using a nickname. The more I thought about it, though, it made sense. This is a person who loves kayaking, biking and triathlons - a Volkswagen camper van is probably the perfect thing for an outdoor adventurer. I always wanted Urban Gear Works to be about all of car culture in Chicago, and because of my friend, I realized that means more than just including both domestic and foreign, cars and trucks. It means thinking about the fact that people have very different definitions of "interesting".


To my friends, Chicago will miss you, but I hope you find everything you're looking for in the Northwest, including your Westy. Just please, keep a fire extinguisher handy.


City Survivors are photographed in public places. Every attempt is made to respect the privacy of the owner. License plates, faces and other identifying information are intentionally obscured. If the owner does not want their car displayed, Urban Gear Works can be reached through the contact form. Alternately, Urban Gear Works welcomes any owner who wishes to share more about their vehicle.

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