Around 1980 or so my parents rented a cottage on Harkers Island, near Morehead City, North Carolina. I drove down there in my 1970 VW Squareback towing our families little sailboat, a Sunfish clone sold by Sears as a “Surfwind”.

After a few days it was time to head home, and I was giving my brother Tom a ride. We took off and were driving along with the sailboat tagging along properly when I stepped on the gas and the pedal went to the floor and stayed there.


I stopped the car and fooled with it for a few minutes before deciding the throttle cable was broken. That wasn’t something I could fix sitting alongside US-70, especially as I didn’t have a spare cable. Nor did I have money or credit cards to get the car hauled in.

Now the VW Squareback is a very interesting and unusual car. Like all VW’s of that era it had an air cooled engine in the back, and being that it was really a small station wagon the engine was accessed by removing a panel in the floor of the cargo area. Among other things that meant you could have the engine cover off and be driving down the road with the engine exposed to the interior of the car.

After thinking about it a bit I went and got a piece of rope off the boat. The rope was then tied to the throttle lever on the engine and tossed to the back seat.

About this time a Highway Patrolman stopped to see what was going on and if he could help. I explained to him what had happened, what we were doing, and what the plan was. As I recall he shook his head looking rather bemused, laughed, wished us luck and said “drive carefully”. He then got back in his patrol car and drove off.

I got in the backseat, Tom got behind the wheel, and he worked the steering, brakes, clutch and shifted while I worked the throttle from the back seat… a very odd sort of back seat driving!

We got off to a REALLY rocky start. I’d give the car some gas, Tom would let out the clutch, the car would jerk forward causing me lurch back, releasing the throttle and the engine would buck and stall. But we got it figured out and made it home without further incident.

The next day I went to T-Hoff, the local VW parts store, and got a new throttle cable.

When I started to pull the old one out it turned out that the cable hadn’t broken after all, it had just come lose from the back of the gas pedal, I could have fixed it alongside US-70 in less than a minute.

Ahh well… live and learn, and I don’t think I ever told Tom that part of the story.