Roaming the country side in search of a good deal on a used vehicle might not be the way you’d think you’d find a long lost relative, but that’s just how one turned up for me recently. I answered an ad for a 1960’s era Volkswagen that an elderly lady wanted pulled out of the weeds behind her shed. The only thing she could tell me about it was that it was in parts, rusted out and in the way. She was moving to a home and had to get rid of it. Her brother had parked the car there when he left for Viet Nam, and never returned.
I’ve been searching for the elusive Vallelunga, a mid-engine, rear wheel drive Italian sports car ever since I was shown a picture of my grandfather standing beside one and smiling into the camera. Collecting and rebuilding old cars to sell was one of the ways I make money. It was my dream to own one of those cars someday, and as I drove the 300 miles to check out her Bug, I fantasized about owning it.
I was also waiting on the results of the Ancestry.com DNA test I’d taken and sent off a few weeks earlier. My wife wanted our children to know more about their roots and we volunteered to take the test and have the results revealed at our upcoming family reunion. We got the test through the Groupon website and saved money on our purchase. We love to shop Groupon for all sorts of things, and have saved a lot of money in the process. It made sense to look there first for a deal on DNA testing, and when we found the best, Ancestry.com, we ordered the kits right away.
As it turns out, the biggest surprise at the family reunion won’t be the results of the DNA, although we were blown away by them. The surprise reunion came when I stepped behind the shed and saw that old lady’s car. Far from being a Volkswagen Beetle, it was the elusive Vallelunga I’d been searching for! It turns out the parts were in a VW box and she assumed that was the make of the rusty car. What’s more, when I showed her the photo of my grandfather, she burst into tears and said, “That’s my brother-in-law, Georgie!” Turns out they had lost touch after she divorced my uncle Heath. Grandpa didn’t survive to come back for the car. And it sat waiting for decades. Her son’s DNA test confirmed we are related. I can’t wait to introduce my aunt to the rest of the family and take her for a spin in the restored car.