The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

Mr. Fuhr’s fueling passion for Volkswagens

Gil Fuhr
Mr. Fuhr’s brother Kenny with his kit car on the family farm.

Westford Academy is filled with so many high performing and interesting students that are constantly in the spotlight and being recognized for their individual achievements. As students, it is easy to become absorbed in our own whirlwind of academics and extracurricular activities.

But amidst our students’ own lives, we often overlook the various stories that exist right before our eyes within the mentors who guide us through our educational journey. Each one of our teachers carry unique experiences with them waiting to be discovered.

One teacher who fits this narrative is Gilbert Fuhr, a math teacher at WA beloved by his many students that he inspires and assists to do their best everyday. Fuhr had an interesting story to tell relating to his long and passionate history with Volkswagens. 

In his youth, Fuhr lived on a farm in New Jersey with his parents and his three older siblings. The farm was previously a train station, and consisted of 11 buildings, each one containing different animals and equipment they may use.

All three of Fuhr’s older siblings were in high school at around the same time, meaning the Fuhr’s parents needed to purchase them all cars. The farm the Fuhr family lived on wasn’t really within walking distance of anywhere they needed to go, so a car was necessary for transportation.

Despite not having a lot of money, Fuhr’s father managed to find five Volkswagen Beetles for sale, and purchased them for each of the children. Later, Fuhr’s brother found another Beetle for purchase, giving the Fuhr family a total of six Volkswagen Beetles among them. 

The Fuhrs became recognizable by the iconic look of the Volkswagen Beetle, as each one of them would drive it around to their various destinations. It was also quite a funny coincidence due to the fact that the Fuhrs have German ancestry, and Volkswagen is a German brand.

“It was kind of a fun thing that all the siblings had the same car, all our neighbors knew us by these funny cars, and everyone would kind of joke around about it,” Fuhr said.

There was one extra Beetle that wasn’t driven by anyone, which they would use for parts whenever another one broke down or needed a replacement piece. One of the buildings on the farm was dedicated purely to repair tractors and the Volkswagens on the farm.

Fuhr learned how to fix cars and gain a lot of experience and knowledge about cars from a very young age. He would observe his older siblings when they would repair their cars when he was younger and absorb the knowledge he would later use when he came of the same age.

“My brother was really the mechanic. […] I was the gopher. Anytime he needed a tool for the car, he would tell me to get it and then I would run and get it for him,” Fuhr said.

Whenever they were fixing or working on a car, the Fuhr siblings would spend a lot of time in the building dedicated to the cars. The siblings spent a good deal of time working on the Volkswagens, and bonded with each other a lot in the process. 

The car his brother had purchased was a “kit car”, meaning it came with a kit that you could use to change and customize the car to how you wanted it. His brother purchased the car off of a family friend, who had chopped the back end off of the car and made it into a flatbed truck.

Since Beetles have engines in the back of the car and trunks in the front, when they needed to fix the engine in the kit car, all they had to do was remove the piece of plywood acting as the flatbed trunk to access the engine, which made it a lot easier to repair.

“The bug that was chopped in half is kind of a funny thing, especially because you don’t see that with cars nowadays,” Fuhr said. “You wouldn’t really see people who have chopped a car in half.”

However, these six Beetles were not the end of Fuhr’s story with Volkswagens. In fact, the trend of Volkswagens would be one that would follow him through his entire life.

When Fuhr was old enough to buy his own car, he purchased a $600 Volkswagen Rabbit, since he had spent a good deal of his childhood gaining expertise about these cars. 

After putting about 200,000 miles on that car, he purchased a Volkswagen Jetta, which he spent a great deal of time driving as well. Now, Fuhr is on his sixth Volkswagen he has owned in his life. 

About two years ago, Fuhr was cleaning up the farm in his hometown and one of the first things they had to sell off was the six iconic Volkswagen Beetles of their youth. However, a few of Fuhr’s siblings also still drive Volkswagens to this day, carrying on the family tradition.

When Fuhr first started teaching middle school, he once joked to a group of boys in his class that his full last name was “Mr. Fuhrvergnügenvandervecht.” This name was inspired by the Volkswagen German slogan from the 1990’s, which was “Fahrvergnügen,” which roughly translates to “the pleasure of driving.” The additional “vandervecht” was inspired by his sister’s married name.

All the other teachers in the school played along with the joke, and Fuhr had successfully convinced his students that his real name was “Mr. Fuhrvergnügenvandervecht.”

Fuhr also happened to be part of the organizing committee of the school yearbook. The year before he left that school, he had been reviewing the yearbook right before it was set to be published, and changed the name under his picture to read “Mr. Fuhrvergnügenvandervecht” right before over 300 copies were printed and distributed to students. 

So, the legacy of the Volkswagen will not only be part of Fuhr forever, but also hundreds of his former students who still to this day believe his full name is the Volkswagen slogan. 

“I’ll always remember that from my childhood, it was kind of a fun little car to learn to drive with and drive around in when I was young,” Fuhr said.

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About the Contributor
Scarlett Barnes
Scarlett Barnes, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Scarlett Barnes and I’m a sophomore staff writer for the Westford Academy Ghostwriter. This is my first year in journalism. I play sports year round at WA; cross country in the fall, swim and dive in the winter, and track and field in the spring. In my free time I really enjoy going on runs, listening to music, and reading books. I am really looking forward to my first year of journalism and all the new experiences I will make being a part of the Ghostwriter. 

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