Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Bug club sending enthusiasts to the street

Casey Masterson paid $6,200 for his 2003 Volkswagen dune buggy — then started a Volkswagen club. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

There is just something about an air-cooled Volkswagen.

Whether it’s the rough vibrations and off-road style of a dune buggy or the immediate recognizability of a hard-top beetle — when there’s no radiator, it’s all the better.

“If you have one, you cherish it,” said Cannon Air Force Base resident Casey Masterson.

A little more than a year ago, Masterson bought a 2003 Volkswagen dune buggy on an eBay auction for $6,200.

With a stinging lime-green exterior, the hard top buggy has no windows, two front seats and only a pad in the back seat with no leg room. The 26-year-old Masterson said it tops out at about 75 mph.

Its beauty is in its simplicity.

“Wipers, lights and a horn — that’s about it,” he said.

Masterson and his wife Dinise cruise around Clovis and have seen other air-cooled Volkswagens. He wanted to bring the unique machines together each week — and so began the Volkswagen club.

Masterson distributed fliers and approached air-cooled car owners he saw on the street in an attempt to organize a ride once a week around the city. Three weeks ago about five drivers met at Sonic Drive In and took to the streets. That number grew to eight one week later.

“It is just to bring (Volkswagens) together and cruise around. It is rare to see one ‘punch buggy’ but to see 10 or 12 driving around the road is pretty cool,” Masterson said about the club. “It keeps growing and growing by word of mouth.”

The club gathers at 6 p.m. each Wednesday at a local eatery and rides around Clovis streets.

Rob Burke owns a 1972 “hippie bug” which he says is one of roughly 50 “Herbie the Love Bug” replicas in the world. He had never met Masterson prior to seeing the club’s flier.

“I’ve been here for four years and I thought it’s about time someone started one up,” Burke said. “There were people on the side of the road stopped to look at the cars. So it was nice.”

Masterson said he hopes to get as many as 30 cars involved as the club grows. He is also considering a club Web site.

Jack and Sharon Quaif, Clovis residents for more than 20 years, drove their 1978 “triple white champaign edition” drop-top Beetle to Twin Cronnie Drive-In on Wednesday night.

Owner of Jack’s Bug Hut in town, he was happy to see someone take the initiative to create a club. The bug, he said, is his everyday car.

“Look at ‘em,” he said. “They’re great. They’re just a riot to drive and they are a lot of fun.”

Dinise Masterson enjoys the mid-week rides and supports her husband’s organizing the new club.

“It is a chance for us to do something together. It is a lot of fun. It is great to get people from the area together and people on base together because a lot of people don’t do much around here,” she said.

And now, she wants her own air-cooled machine to drive.

“I want a Volkswagen Thing,” she said.

Masterson just smiled.

“I guess I’ll have to build one for her.”