When you hear that someone has owned 42 vehicles in the last 40 years, your first question will probably be, “Why?” Add in the fact that they’ve all been Volkswagens and the answer gets even more interesting.
Taylor Bryant, a Charleston, South Carolina native, has always had a soft spot for Volkswagens. Growing up in the Palmetto State, Bryant would ride his bicycle to the local VW dealership and chat up the technicians.
Forty years ago, Bryant spotted a 1961 Volkswagen Beetle waiting at a red light. He approached the driver and asked if he would be willing to sell it. A few weeks and $500 later, the light blue Beetle was his.
Bryant has restored, fixed up, and turned around a number of Volkswagens to help fund his habit.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
“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 went on to earn 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. During that time, Bryant built his own car collection adding a wide variety of models to his collection including a Corrado, original Beetle, Golf, Jetta, and Tiguan.
Starting and maintaining a car collection isn’t cheap. Bryant would often buy trade-in vehicles and took 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.
“I pretty much love them all [and] have touched or owned all of them at some point,” said Bryant.
Those Volkswagens have played key roles in Bryant’s life. He ran for school board in 2010 and used a 2005 Jetta GLI as his campaign car. Bryant 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.