And we mean "insane" in the nicest way possible.
We all have a soft spot for a certain brand, but some people are way more passionate than others. Meet Taylor Bryant and his love affair with Volkswagen that started many moons ago even before buying his first car – an old Beetle. Over the years, he has owned a whopping 42 cars from the Wolfsburg brand and strongly believes the last car he’ll ever buy will also be a VW.
Volkswagen of America tells the story of a kid from Charleston, South Carolina, and his routine of riding a bike to the local VW dealer to check out the latest vehicles and learn about them straight from the employees. Fast forward six years later, he went on to buy a blue 1961 Beetle for $500 after seeing the car at a red light and convincing the owner to sell it.
Taylor Bryant knows his way around cars, having received a degree in automotive technology from Aiken Technical College in South Carolina back in 2001. Not only that, but he worked for 12 years as a VW technician and has owned a wide variety of models, including multiple Golfs, Jettas, and Passats. He currently has a 1999 Jetta and a newer 2017 model, along with a 2004 Passat wagon. He has his eyes on a restored 1967 Karmann Ghia and might buy an Atlas since he needs the extra space for his two kids and four large dogs.
His passion for VW has had an impact on other members of the family as Bryant bought his wife a Golf convertible for their fifth wedding anniversary while his son’s first car was a Jetta. Most of the cars owned by him were trade-in vehicles he saw as project cars, bringing them back into shape and selling them afterward to fund his next project.
Gallery: Derek Spratt's 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI
He would probably get along just great with another VW passionate, Derek Spratt. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, he’s the one who spent $140,000 tweaking a first-gen Rabbit GTI (pictured above). VoA told his story earlier this year, mentioning he invested more than 12,000 hours of work in his pet project, which he sold at the beginning of the year “at a fraction of the cost of the modifications.”
#TBT: One owner, 42 Volkswagens, endless memories
You always remember your first car. For Taylor Bryant, that first car – an old Beetle – drew the template of a life-long connection to Volkswagen that has grown to more than 40 vehicles over the years.
“I’ve always liked European cars and had a soft spot for Volkswagens,” Bryant said.
His affection for VW began as a kid in Charleston, South Carolina. Bryant would ride his bike to the local Volkswagen dealership and admire the latest models while chatting with technicians. Six years later, he bought his first car – a 1961 light blue Beetle – for $500 after spotting the car while waiting at a red light. He rolled down his window, asked the driver if he would be willing to sell it and, a few weeks later, the car was his.
“I drove it all the way through high school and the beginning of college. It really got me into cars because I had to work on it constantly,” Bryant said. “You can’t pay a whole lot of people to work on your car on a Taco Bell salary at 16.”
Bryant received a degree in automotive technology from Aiken Technical College in South Carolina in 2001 and worked as a Volkswagen master auto technician for 12 years. His work introduced him to all sorts of Volkswagen vehicles, from older classics, like the Corrado and original Beetle, to more modern models, like the Jetta and Tiguan. He quickly began building his own car collection, often buying trade-in vehicles, and taking them on as project cars. Once a car was complete, he would sell it for whatever money he put into it and use the earnings to fund the next build.
Over the years, his 42 Volkswagen car collection has included multiple Golf, Jetta and Passat models.
“I pretty much love them all [and] have touched or owned all of them at some point,” said Bryant.
Some of his fondest family memories are tied to his Volkswagen cars. Bryant ran for school board in 2010 and used a 2005 Jetta GLI as his campaign car. He bought his wife a Cabriolet for their fifth wedding anniversary, and his son’s first car was a Jetta.
His current collection includes a 1999 Jetta, a 2004 Passat Wagon and a 2017 Jetta. He recently spotted one of his favorite project cars – a beautifully restored red 1967 Karmann Ghia – for sale on Facebook Marketplace.
“It was pretty neat to see a car I restored 20 years ago still running around and looking beautiful,” Bryant said.
In 2013, after 12 years of working as a Volkswagen mechanic, he left the shop to become an instructor at Augusta Technical College in Georgia. “It feels really good to give back to the career that has given me everything I’ve ever had,” Bryant said.
Due to COVID, he has moved his classes online and spends some of his spare time tracking down models to use for teaching purposes.
As to his personal collection, it always has room to grow. He is currently eyeing the Atlas SUV as his next big purchase to cart his four large pups and two children around town.
“[Volkswagen] was the first car I bought and will likely be the last,” Bryant said.