Farewell to Maggie the Combi

Well.. This project has come to an end, I'm afraid.
I was down in Puerto Escondido for the second time trying to bring her back to Mexico City, but to no avail.

The first time around, there turned out to be a leak in the coolant, all coolant had dripped out, and at some point the engine had overheated and blown the head gasket. Ended up hitching a ride to Oaxaca City, then taking a bus from there.

Thanks to some resourceful friends I was able to have the engine repaired, so last week it was time to make another attempt.

This time the circumstances were much different. I'll try to explain a bit:

  • In the 90s Mexico City had a thing called Hoy No Circula, which means that depending on the last number of your number plate - your car was under curfew one day a week. This as an attempt to reduce pollution in one of the famously most polluted cities in the world. Whether it worked or not is contested, but at any rate the restrictions were lifted during the early 00's.
    This summer the city experienced its worst smog levels in 15 years, which led to this program bein reinstated very suddenly. Even with a "Doble Hoy No Circula", which means that on really bad weeks your car had to sit quiet two days a week.
    My plan for Maggie was always to be able to do day-trips and weekend trips to wherever we felt like going. As in "leave on Friday after work, come back Sunday afternoon".
    And due to a stroke of bad luck, according to the mathematics of Hoy No Circula Maggie would be illegal to take out on.. wait for it... Friday :(
    Should there be a "Doble Hoy No Circula", she would also be illegal on Sundays.

  • In the state of Oaxaca the teacher's union were on a state-wide strike. Now, teacher's strike in Oaxaca is quite different than one might imagine. It's not just that they don't show up for work - they actively boycott and block other parts of society. This can take the form of setting up a campsite in the town square, blocking entry to a supermarket or large chain store, or pretty much always: Road blocks.
    Serious roadblocks:

    These roadblocks had the intended effect of shutting down pretty much all the state.
    In a very short time all 5 roads out of Puerto Escondido were completely blocked. We were surrounded by roadblocks.
    This also had the effect that no supplies were getting in our out. Most importantly for me: No gas/petrol/fuel. The local Pemex stations ran out a day and a half after I landed.

So basically, I was stranded. This time Maggie was working perfectly. Only she had no roads to speak of, and only 3/4 tank of gas. Definitely not enough to make it to Mexico City, which is a 2-day 760km drive. And then there was word that there were confrontations between the teachers and federal police where shots were fired, molotov cocktails were thrown and cars, buses and trucks were being commandeered for improv use as building blocks for blockades.

Faced with all these odds, I decided to take a hint from the universe.
Apparently I really, really wasn't supposed to be able to bring Maggie to Mexico City with me. And even if I by some miracle I was able to, I wouldn't be able to use her as I planned.
Having a project car in need of TLC sitting 760km away from my location also made little sense.

Only thing to do was to sell.

Luckily, I remembered a couple of people who had expressed an interest in buying her "should you ever want to sell her", so after just 3 phone calls and 1 day Maggie was officially no longer mine.

So did I learn anything?
Well - I learnt that no matter how much of an engineer and tinkerer I fancy myself, I'm not a mechanic :P
None of the repairs and enhancements that were done would be possible without my trusted mechanic Rob.
And that old cars need a lot of maintenance.

Oh yeah - and that a Combi isn't necessarily just "A Combi". Even if you have what's called a "Bay Window" T2, and even if you narrow it down to the sub-type "T2c" there are vast differences. Was it built in Germany, Mexico or Brasil? In what year was it built at one of those locations? Was your combi always a person-carrier? Or was it a panel van and someone punched holes in the walls and added windows? Are you using the air-cooled or the water-cooled engine? And which model of those? The 1600 carburated, the 1600 fuel injected, the 1800 carburated, or the 1800 fuel injected? And if fuel injected, where is the fuel injection from? Germany, Mexico or Brasil?
All these things play a large or small part in all replacement parts and they way they fit onto your car.

And with that, I had too say goodbye to Maggie. It's truly been an adventure in all meanings of the word. Some frustrations, but I've enjoyed it immensely. Being a shorts-and-t-shirts-without-sleeves-wearing slacker on the beaches of Oaxaca, there is no better car. It truly epitomizes the feel of the area, for locals and estranjeros alike.
I felt like a part of the landscape, a part of the place, and partly contributing to the magc of the place - evident by tourists snapping the most fantastically beach-dream-looking pictures when you're just mundanely stopping by the store on a tuesday evening.

And hey, she's in good hands with her new owners: A surfing automotive engineer and his lovely family.
And who could be sad when they send me pics like these?