Vintage Volkswagon attracts attention to young driver

Published 12:00 pm Friday, April 24, 2009

Lucy, an iconic Volkswagon van of 1967 vintage is 23 years older than her owner, Stefan Formentano.

With a gleaming red and white exterior and customized matching interior, Lucy is unmistakable around town with her jaunty surfboard mounted atop the luggage rack.

“People leave notes on my van all the time,” Stefan said. “And hang out their windows and flash me peace signs.”

Before Stefan turned 16, he had picked out Lucy online, but didn’t dream his dad, Alfredo, would bring Lucy all the way from Monterey, Calif. As his birthday neared, his mother, Shauna, drove past a local shopping center where he glimpsed the very van he wanted with a ‘For Sale’ sign on it.

When they excitedly pulled over to check it out, friends and family jumped out shouting “surprise.” Lucy, named after the Beatles Sgt. Pepper album song, has been Stefan’s daily wheels ever since.

Stefan is the second oldest of five home-schooled children, all of whom play multiple instruments and took piano lessons growing up. When they perform together, Christopher, 21, plays guitar; Stefan, drums; Holly Blair, 17, sings and plays piano; Nicolas, 16, plays bass and his twin Noelle, sings and plays guitar. The band remains officially unnamed, but they have been dubbed ‘The Fab Five’ by fans.

Even Stefan’s musical preferences date from the time of Lucy’s prime –– Billy Joel, The Eagles, The Who and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Bob Marley wails his favorite bus tunes on the road.

Stefan and his family have traveled widely and taken road trips to many of the U.S. states and Canada. They spent two weeks the past four summers snorkeling, scuba diving and visiting family on Curacao.

“My dream road trip would be to drive Lucy out to California and down the coast,” Stefan said.

He and his dad do all the simple maintenance on Lucy themselves.

“People always stop to help me if I break down or need a boost,” Stefan said. “When you drive a classic car you become a member of an unspoken society.”

Stefan belongs to the Dixie Vintage Auto Club that meets first Saturdays at Krispy Kreme in Hoover and also attends “cruise-ins” of the Central Alabama VW Club.

“This vehicle has opened so many doors for me,” Stefan says. “It has literally changed who I am by helping me meet new people and by reminding me to slow down and enjoy the little things.”