Snorco, the bumpmobile

By David Barnett

David Barnett Contributing Columnist

I have always had a fascination with automobiles, and each of the cars I have owned can be associated with memories; some good, some not so good.

However, a few cars stand out, almost having a personality of their own. The most fascinating car I have owned was a 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco, which eventually became known to my kids and their friends as Snorco, the Bumpmobile.

I purchased the Bumpmobile in my late thirties, and it was the affordable substitute for my “mid-life Porsche 911S”. I had not owned the Bumpmobile long until I fell deeply in love with it, and came to loathe it immensely, all dependent upon what it decided to do.

For example, sometimes the horn would just start honking at the least opportune time. Sometimes, when my wife had gotten out of the car and walked away, the driver’s door would just open.

The single front windshield wiper often flung itself off the windshield and into the bar ditch. This erratic behavior only occurred in the heaviest of rain storms.

The car seemed to enjoy watching the driver get out into the pouring rain and get absolutely doused retrieving the wiper and re-attaching it to the windshield. On the other hand, the car performed like a small Porsche, while getting 30 miles per gallon of gasoline.

It had a five-speed transmission that shifted better than almost any standard transmission of that era, and was just more fun to drive than any car I’ve owned since. One of the most fascinating features of the Bumpmobile was its rear windshield wiper, which was activated by a well hidden lever.

The driver could activate the rear wiper without the passengers knowing it (This, of course, worked best when the passengers were younger than 8 years old).

When the rear wiper was activated, it made a sound something like a groan.

By activating the lever for short or long periods of time, one could make it sound like it was trying to talk.

My kids and their friends loved to ride in the Bumpmobile because they could ask it questions and then laugh uproariously as it answered in short groans, deftly fashioned by the lever operator into words. I’m not sure who got the biggest kick from this maneuver; the kids or the driver.

After I had driven the car for over 12 years, I gave it to one of my daughters, who credited the car for teaching her the virtue of patience.

Then, after it had served us for almost 14 years and 150,000 miles, the Bumpmobile gave up the ghost, ultimately ending up in the scrap yard.

Though the car has been gone for years the memories are still strong. Thanks for the memories, Snorco!

David Barnett Contributing Columnist Barnett Contributing Columnist

By David Barnett

Reach David Barnett by contacting Kathleen Guill at

Reach David Barnett by contacting Kathleen Guill at

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