Growing up with a car collector landlord, I have never really understood the allure of the Beetle.
The Nazi social programme turned cultural icon was a great example of cutthroat engineering, but if you crunch the numbers, it was the definition of a bare-bones car.
Even in its most advanced form, the Beetle had a worse on paper spec than a Yugo. A much newer yet similar-minded car that was in many aspects, a better design. Yet while the Beetle is beloved, the Yogo is almost universally loathed.
Being surrounded by big block American V8s and large displacement British inline motors, I never quite figured out why one was hated and the other was loved. It was only when I got my own vehicle I finally understood.
People don't fall in love with their cars because of numbers. They fall in love because of the memories they create with it. With its cute rounded body and adorable front fascia, the Beetle is the perfect blank canvas for someone to quilt together their life stories.
And as far as those stories go, the one of Dr Kamrul Islam's 1967 Beetle is one for the history books.
The story starts in the late 1960s with Dr Mafakhkharul Islam, then assistant professor at Sylhet Medical College and Kamrul's father. In 1969, Dr Islam purchased an almost new white 1967 Beetle from a Pakistani ADC, with who he became acquainted through his tennis-playing hobby. The purchase set back Dr Islam TK1,200 at the time, a high cost that would prove to be invaluable in the coming years.
March 26, 1971. The diplomatic crisis between East and West Pakistan collapsed into violent military conflict as the Pakistan army commenced Operation Searchlight. The bloody crackdown shattered all chances of a peaceful resolution and started Bangladesh's War of Independence.
Initially, the Pakistani Army tried to confiscate all privately owned vehicles, but fortunately for Dr Islam, he succeeded to hold onto his Beetle. While his car was safe from the time being, Dr Shamsuddin, a fellow colleague of Dr Islam, feared for the safety of the college and hospital staff. He advised Dr Islam and many others to leave the hospital and relocate somewhere safe.
Fearing the safety of his pregnant wife and two young daughters, Dr Islam chose to make good of this advice. Embarking on the Beetle, the family set out for an arduous exodus toward safety. On the way, they dodged both Pakistani army check-posts and air-raids, at times needing to cover up the Beetle in camouflage to avoid detection. But the air-cooled 1.2-litre engine soldered on, and in April 1971, the family reached safety.
Eight months later, Bangladesh was born. Sadly, while Dr Islam's family survived, Dr Shamsuddin, on whose advice Dr Islam had fled, did not. He had chosen to stay behind at the hospital and for that, was killed by the Pakistani Army. At present, Sylhet Medical College Hospital bears his name in honour.
In the coming years, Dr Islam and his family created countless more memories with the bug, many of them precious to Kamrul and his siblings. He and his brother learned to drive in the Beetle, and frequently took it out for their own little adventures.
However, the years of use took their toll on the Beetle. Parts were hard to come by, as its importer, Modern Motor, folded soon after the country's independence. The car began to develop various rust spots and the 6-volt battery often failed, needing it to be pushed to start every morning. But Dr Islam refused to sell it, even at the protests of Kamrul, his elder brother and sisters. He passed away in 2007, leaving the Beetle to Kamrul.
But Dr Kamrul is glad his father didn't sell it though. The Beetle is a constant reminder of their father and a living memento to our war of independence. Now an established doctor himself, he restored the Beetle to its full glory in 2011 and is waiting to pass it on to his son, Mushfiqul Islam Sahil, as a family heirloom.
The humble Beetle is likely to see another generation of faithful service, creating many more happy memories and putting together a few more stories.