Northampton Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY JOHANNA S. BILLINGS A vintage suitcase and Coca-Cola cooler complete the look of this 1962 Volkswagen bug. It belongs to Northampton resident Zachary Brem, who says it's his dream car. PRESS PHOTO BY JOHANNA S. BILLINGS A vintage suitcase and Coca-Cola cooler complete the look of this 1962 Volkswagen bug. It belongs to Northampton resident Zachary Brem, who says it's his dream car.

No hurry

Thursday, April 18, 2013 by JOHANNA S. BILLINGS in Local News

Local man travels in style

It's slow but it's stylish.

That's how Zachary Brem of Northampton describes his favorite set of wheels – a turquoise 1962 Volkswagen bug.

"It's my dream car," said Brem, who drove it to an event at the American Club of Coplay pavilion April 14.

"I feel like a rock star when I'm driving it," he said, explaining that the car frequently is photographed when he takes it out on the road.

The only thing he updated on the vintage bug is the tires because the original ones were dry rotted, he said. Everything else is original, even the paint.

Brem said he looked for two years to find an all original bug and purchased this one three and a half years ago.

"It's actually from California, Southern California," said Brem, 32, who grew up in Coplay and graduated from Whitehall High School in 1998. "It was shipped here to a guy in New Jersey who collects them and I bought it from him."

Brem customized the car by adding a vintage Coca-Cola cooler and suitcase, which is strapped to a luggage rack on the roof.

When he and his wife, Lauren, were married in November, the car was a featured part of the wedding, he said.

In addition to the Beetle, Brem owns a 1992 VW Corrado and a 2011 GTI, he said.

"The Corrado is a very rare and fast car," he said. "I use it primarily for drag racing at local events. The best race I've had is when I beat a Dodge Viper. I couldn't believe it and the owner of the V10 Viper was not a happy camper to learn he was beaten by a six-cylinder VW."

He'd also like to find an old Volkswagen bus.

However, the Beetle remains his favorite Volks-wagen.

"There is nothing like it that has ever been produced by any other car manufacturer," he said. "Even children that have no idea what it is, love it."

Brem said his father had a baby blue VW Beetle when he was a kid and he remembers how he loved riding in it, even though the heat didn't work very well.

When he was 13, Brem acquired a 1974 VW Sun Bug with intentions of restoring it.

"Unfortunately the rust was cancerous and I ended up selling it for scrap metal," he said.

Next he bought a 1986 VW GTI that was totaled in a wreck.

"My dad and I brought it back to life and I drove it until I finished my undergraduate studies at East Stroudsburg University," said Brem. "That was the best car I've ever owned, probably due to the blood, sweat and tears my father and I put into it."

After graduating from East Stroudsburg in 2002, Brem went on to earn a master's degree in educational leadership from Wilkes University, graduating in 2010.

He works as an elementary special-education teacher in the Allentown School District and has a side business doing landscaping.

Brem said he has always loved working on cars as well as driving them.

"My dad has been in the automotive industry in some form or another his whole life and the rest of my family is very mechanically inclined," he said.

Brem's grandfather, who recently died, often said, "It is better to be a jack of all trades than a master of one," Brem said.

"I really believe that advice and have followed it throughout my entire life. I can work on cars, detail cars, landscape, teach, deejay, lay concrete, and will always try to learn how to do something new," he said.

Recently, he completed restoring his turn-of-the-century farmhouse in Northampton Borough, where he and Lauren live with Labrador retrievers Ziggy and Roscoe.

"I love the challenge of the task at hand and take pride in completing a quality finished product," he said.

When he was in high school, Brem said, his parents suggested that he go to college and study something besides vehicle repair so that he could continue his love of working on cars.

"If I became a mechanic, I'm afraid that I would have lost the passion because I'd be working on them 40 plus hours a week. It is a great balance," he said.