Some people spend a lot of time with their cars. Indeed, many motor enthusiasts get so attached to their rides that they even name their beloved auto. With this in mind, how far would you go to get the vehicle of your dreams? One man took a particularly unusual approach to do just that.
It all began with Cris Mead, a resident of Oakland, California, whose father Cornelius was one of those people with his own beloved auto. Mead has fond memories of his dad and his passion for their family car, a blue Volkswagen microbus. In fact, in an interview with daily newspaper Newsday Mead told them he lavished it with attention.
Cornelius loved the bus so much he named it Matilda and it was his pride and joy. “[He] spent more money on that van than any reasonable person would have,” Mead said on the subject of Matilda’s maintenance. That’s because he treasured the vehicle, and he did so all his life.
When Cornelius sadly passed away at the grand old age of 82, his children took responsibility for sorting through his belongings. You can imagine the family’s surprise, then, when Mead’s sister discovered something unexpected during a search of Matilda. Mead described the event to TV station CBS New York that year in his own words.
“We were trying to figure out what to do with all of my dad’s stuff,” Mead described. “One of the things was the Volkswagen van. My sister came across a note that choked me up when I read it.” The message ended with a phone number, and Mead knew he had to call it.
The note belonged to a 23-year-old Lindenhurst New Yorker called Kyle Cropsey. These days Cropsey works as an English teacher for high school students, but in his spare time he loves surfing. This hobby was partially responsible for getting him in contact with Mead, but the note that links them wasn’t a recent one.
Indeed, it had been a long time since Cropsey left the message for Cornelius. To be more precise, the young man had delivered his phone number eight years before, when he was just 16 years old. As soon as he saw Matilda, he couldn’t help himself and had to make his feelings known.
You see, Cropsey has been a fan of the Volkswagen microbus model for a long time. By his own admission, he finds they have an undefinable appeal, as he explained to CBS New York in 2018. “Ever since I was young,” he said, “I’ve had an infatuation with these Volkswagen buses.”
To be more specific, Cropsey was referring to the second generation Volkswagen Type 2 (or simply T2 in shorthand). The vehicles rolled off the German auto manufacturer’s production line for roughly 12 years, between 1967 and 1979. During this time there were minor design tweaks; microbuses built prior to 1971 were labelled “Early Bay.”
However, Cropsey had a special affection for 1971 or later models, which are known as “Late Bay,” or T2b. During the T2’s run, VW ditched its signature front windshield design, which was previously split by a frame. It instead opted for a bay window, earning it several related nicknames, including the affectionate moniker, “Breadloaf.”
In addition, initial T2b models have a rounded bumper that act as a step for easy interior access. More than that, though, they were easier to recognize by enthusiasts because of their size. Not only are the earlier T2bs bigger, they’re also heavier than previous models, possibly because of their improved parts.
The more robust T2bs received an overhaul of their electric and battery systems. Plus, these models also benefited from a new technical approach to ride height. Gone were the transfer boxes and rear suspension composed of a swinging axle; half-shaft axles took their place instead. Constant velocity joints were also used to offer a smoother ride.
As for performance, Cropsey’s favored VW minibus had improvements to both the brakes and the engine. The former brought improved retardation capabilities with the introduction of front discs and associated ventilation holes. Meanwhile, the T2b’s engine went from the 1600cc Type 1 engines to a Type 4 engine with 1700cc.
Cornelius’s 1971 VW Matilda had all the features that made the T2b so highly-regarded by many Volkswagen fans. It’s no surprise, then, that it had caught a young Cropsey’s attention when he first saw it back in his teenage years. From the moment he laid eyes on Matilda, Cropsey was smitten.
It wasn’t the first VW microbus for which Cropsey had fallen, of course, and his behavior had settled into a pattern. Whenever he saw a model that he could picture owning himself, he’d leave a note for the owner. And indeed this is exactly what he had done with Cornelius’s Matilda on the day that he saw it for the first time.
According to the Daily Mail newspaper in 2018, over the years Cropsey had left in the region of 20 handwritten notes in Volkswagen vans he had admired. One of those was, of course, Matilda which Cropsey discovered while he was on a trip with his friends. As a water sports fan, his destination had been Rockaway Beach in New York City.
Cropsey didn’t know to whom the blue VW microbus belonged; all he knew was it called out to him. The teenager was so taken with it, in fact, that he had to have a memento of the discovery. With that in mind, Cropsey asked his friends to take a picture.
Rather than being satisfied with just a photo of the VW motor by itself, Cropsey had to be included. So he posed in front of the vehicle with both thumbs up, but he didn’t stop there. The young man then did his signature trick of leaving a note for the owner with the vehicle.
Afterwards Cropsey went on his way, but he never forgot Matilda. He even uploaded the picture of himself with the microbus to Facebook, accompanied by the comment, “My future car.” Unknown to him at the time, it would seem that Cornelius didn’t forget the stranger who shared his love for Matilda, either.
As previously stated, Cornelius was famously sentimental about his treasured Matilda, which he often drove on road trips. As a result, he kept a log book inside detailing anything he thought might be worthy of jotting down. The Mead family found Cropsey’s note here, which their father had kept for all those years.
Cropsey’s message was actually a request to buy Matilda from Cornelius. The teacher described the moment he had delivered the message to CBS, saying, “I scribbled a note, ‘Please call me,’ and I slipped it in right through the window.” However, as events unfolded, Cropsey couldn’t be sure if Cornelius had ever found his message.
In fact, Cropsey said that from where the note landed, its discovery was unlikely. He continued, “I saw [the note] fall to the floor, and I said, ‘Oh my god, he’s not going to see it.’” But as we now know, Cornelius certainly did get the message, and he held onto it, too.
The Meads were wondering what to do with Matilda when they found Cropsey’s note, which made up their minds for them. They wanted the VW to go to someone who would look after it in the same way that their father had. And since Cornelius had retained the message, it must have meant something to him.
And so they decided to ring the number they found on the note which, miraculously, still belonged to Cropsey. In his interview, the teacher recalled the moment that Mead rang him and how their conversation had gone. According to Cropsey, Mead had said, “We think my dad would have wanted you to have the bus.”
It turned out that Cropsey’s Facebook comment had been exactly right: Matilda was his future car, after all. Nevertheless, he couldn’t believe his luck, a point he made very clear. “After all these years, it came and found me,” Cropsey said. So what did the Mead family want in return for Matilda, you might ask?
Well for one thing, the Meads were adamant they didn’t want Cropsey to pay for the vehicle. All they requested was that he keep them updated on Matilda’s restoration status in the form of photos. Cornelius’s family also wanted Cropsey to take Matilda on his future road trips and expeditions.
During his CBS interview, Cropsey indicated that he didn’t think that would be a problem. He said he already had plans and he could picture the van full of his buddies, especially for their water sports trips. “My friends will definitely be packed in here, we’ll have the surfboards in here,” Cropsey described.
Before Cropsey could take Matilda out for her wildest adventures, though, she needed a little love and care first. Cropsey said that “the gears park up a little bit” but the VW still had a radio that “works quite well.” He also mentioned that wherever he goes, people were drawn to the classic vehicle.
“Oh, people are always pointing and turning their heads,” Cropsey said of Matilda. It may have taken eight years, but he finally has the VW microbus of which he had always dreamed. Furthermore, the Mead family have made quite clear they couldn’t be happier that Matilda was getting a new lease of life.
Actually, everyone involved is quite amazed by the chain of events that led to Matilda changing owners. For his part, Mead said, “It’s just the way this whole journey has progressed. It has been absolutely amazing.” And as for Cropsey, he thinks everything seems a little too convenient to be pure coincidence.
Cropsey said that “it was fate” that Matilda came back round to him so long after their original encounter. And it certainly seems serendipitous. Regardless of how it happened, he’s eternally grateful for the Mead family’s generosity. So much so, in fact, that he’s determined to show them the extent of his appreciation somehow.
“This will definitely be paid for in some way or another,” Cropsey concluded. He’s started by taking good care of Matilda, which now has a new lick of green paint and a roof extension. But Cropsey isn’t the only lucky recipient of a vehicular gift. Another generous donor raised some attention the following year in 2019. His story began in a car dealership, when he accidentally overheard a conversation taking place nearby.
Father-of-four and San Diego resident Dan Laguardia was visiting a Californian dealership, Auto City, in El Cajon. He was there to buy a new car and exchange his old ride, but someone’s distress caught his attention. That person was Kayla Cooper, a 22-year-old student of San Diego City College, learning nursing.
Laguardia described the events that followed to TV program Good Morning America that same year. “I heard Kayla at the next table, she sounded like she was upset,” he recounted. “I really wasn’t trying to be nosy, but I heard her sales guy say, ‘Can somebody help you out? Do you have a family member or friend?’”
As it turns out, Cooper was a hard-working young woman juggling several jobs to support her education. She worked the cash register at a 7-Eleven store for her first job, and her second one was in San Diego. Cooper was an Ace Parking’s lot enforcer, a job which heavily relied on having her own transportation.
“I use my car to work at Ace,” Cooper revealed. “That’s the only reason I got the position, because I had a car.” However, that vehicle had been on loan, and she couldn’t afford the lease any more. Nor did Cooper have the funds to buy a used car, much to her dismay.
Cooper elaborated, “I was feeling really upset because I went into [the dealership] with good intentions.” Understandably the situation got too much for the young student, and she left the dealership sobbing. That was roughly what Laguardia overheard, and it moved him so deeply, he felt he had to do something.
With this in mind, Laguardia waited until Auto City’s salesman had finished his dealings with Cooper. After she had left, he told dealership staff that they should contact her again. He had a car for her – his 2005 Scion that he had planned to trade in – and what’s more, he wouldn’t charge her a dime.
And so the dealership rang Cooper back ten minutes after she left with the news. As a result of Laguardia’s generosity, the student nurse was over the moon, as he told Good Morning America. “She just couldn’t believe it,” he revealed. “She said, ‘Can I give you a hug?’ and I said, ‘Of course.’”
Cooper also expressed how she felt at that moment in her own words. “I’m still in shock about it,” Cooper told Good Morning America, “because how could someone give it away without anything in return? I just want to thank him. It’s been the biggest blessing of my life. I hope and pray that someday I can do the same big gesture that he did.”
So, Cooper’s decision to leave a note certainly paid off. This isn’t the only incredible story involving a note to have captivated people all over the world, though. You see, in November 2018 Andrew Sipowicz’s red Ford Mustang was damaged in a hit-and-run incident. Upon further investigation, he would discover a letter on the vehicle from a rather unexpected source. And what it said would help him figure out exactly what happened.
Unfortunately, drivers sometimes find that their vehicles have been damaged through no fault of their own. And Andrew Sipowicz has been one of them, as he discovered in November 2018 that his parked red Ford Mustang had been involved in a hit-and-run incident. However, while Sipowicz was assessing what had happened to his car, he found a handwritten note by a sixth-grader.
A resident of Buffalo, New York, Sipowicz had grown up harboring a passion for one sport in particular: baseball. And in his younger years, he had impressed as a pitcher for his high-school team before going on to play at college level.
When it came to higher education, moreover, Sipowicz had applied for a place at Buffalo’s Canisius College. The institution – so named in honor of Dutch teacher St. Peter Canisius – was first established back in 1870. And, initially, the college had started out in one building; it’s gradually expanded since, though.
In fact, Canisius College now boasts over 30 buildings on its campus. And thankfully for Sipowicz, he would get to explore the Canisius grounds after the institution accepted his application. Even so, the Buffalo native had yet another dream that he wanted to realize.
You see, Sipowicz had always wanted to own a Ford Mustang – a vehicle he had fantasized about as a kid. And ahead of his college move, the student wanted to buy a car for himself – a desire that had caught the attention of his dad, John.
So, at that point, Sipowicz’s father made his son an intriguing deal. To wit, John said that he would help pay for the car if the student’s tuition fees ate up most of his scholarship funds. However, Sipowicz may not have predicted what would happen next.
Yes, a surprise greeted the student after he had returned home one day. Sitting in the garage was a 2012 Ford Mustang – a present from his parents. And after learning that the car belonged to him, the New York native had become overcome with emotion, he later revealed.
Then, following his admittance to Canisius, Sipowicz had joined the college baseball team and subsequently moved into an apartment with some of his teammates. And, together, they enjoyed a lot of success on the field; the Golden Griffins even emerged victorious during the 2018 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament.
However, Sipowicz was dealt an unfortunate blow one afternoon in November 2018. While traveling down a road close to his apartment, one of the student’s roommates, Andrew Kneussle, caught a glimpse of something that set alarm bells ringing: he saw a school bus loitering very near to the red Mustang.
Understandably concerned for his friend’s beloved car, Kneussle then snapped a photo of the scene on his phone. After that, he sent the image to Sipowicz, who quickly responded. And from there, the baseball player asked his roommate to grab the bus driver’s attention in an attempt to find out what was happening.
As a result, Kneussle approached the bus and engaged in a conversation with the female driver. She insisted, however, that her vehicle hadn’t hit Sipowicz’s Mustang. Kneussle then passed the information back to the student – and that put Sipowicz’s mind at ease.
Despite those reassurances, though, Sipowicz wanted to check the car over himself. So, he duly headed over to the Mustang, knowing that he needed to move it anyway due to the area’s parking rules. But upon seeing the vehicle, he received a shock.
There was a significant dent on the left-hand side of the car – just above the headlights. Not only that, but some of the paintwork around the dent had been scratched off. And by that point, the culprit had already left, leaving the owner of the vehicle in a difficult spot.
However, Sipowicz then found a handwritten note left on the Mustang that explained exactly what had happened to the car. And in an act of gratitude, the student would later post a photo of the message to his Twitter page.
“If [you’re] wondering what [happened] to your car, Bus 449 hit [it],” said the note. “It stops here every day to drop me off at 5:00 p.m.” From there, the writer had penned a subheading that read, “What happened?” after which they had described the incident in full.
“[The school bus driver] was trying to pull off and hit the car,” the missive continued. “She hit and [ran]. She tried to [veer] over and squeeze [through] but couldn’t. [The driver then] actually squeezed [through], she made a dent, and I saw what happened. Sorry.”
But that wasn’t it, as the letter also provided a detailed description of the driver’s seat number, the name of the bus and a hand-drawn picture of the vehicle itself. “The bus that hit your car,” the author had appropriately scribbled above their artist’s rendition.
When it came to the identity of the note-writer, though, Sipowicz had been left none the wiser. You see, instead of revealing their identity, the author had simply signed, “A sixth-grader at Houghton Academy.” Regardless, that didn’t stop Sipowicz from praising the individual.
“Shout-out to the anonymous sixth-grader for saving me a couple thousand [dollars],” Sipowicz wrote alongside the photo of the letter. “Bus not drawn to scale.” And in time, the baseball player’s post would make waves across the internet.
Indeed, Sipowicz’s tweet ultimately went viral; it has since earned over 1.2 million likes and more than 260,000 retweets on the social media website. The post generated over 4,000 comments, too, with several Twitter users choosing to hail the sixth-grader’s actions. And as the story continued to grow in popularity, one of the author’s teachers caught a glimpse of the note.
After having discerned the identity of the student through her penmanship, the teacher contacted Sipowicz and provided him with some information about the sixth-grade girl. “Me and my family are so grateful,” the student told BBC News in November 2018 after he had discovered the name of the author. “We want to reward the girl somehow.”
Sipowicz had planned to visit Houghton Academy after the Thanksgiving break; by that point, however, the girl had already been rewarded by one of her teachers. “Proud teacher moment,” Nick Kiser wrote on Twitter in November 2018. “One of my students wasn’t afraid to be a ‘snitch’ and did the good deed. No Thanksgiving homework!”
Meanwhile, Houghton Academy’s vice principal revealed that the student in question would be handed a special citizenship award for her “outstanding leadership.” And a spokeswoman for Buffalo Public Schools also praised the youngster’s conduct. In November 2018 she said to ABC affiliate WKBW, “Kudos to the sixth-grader. We always tell our students if they see something to say something.”
Sipowicz was still keen to meet the girl, however, and he would explain why in a November 2018 interview with the BBC. “I just want to thank her so much for being so courageous and doing the right thing when it would have been easier to go home and forget the whole thing,” he said.
In the meantime, Sipowicz was able to contact school bus company First Student thanks to the sixth-grader’s information. And upon learning what had happened to Sipowicz’s Mustang, a representative then offered the student an apology and a few promises. The company also released a statement on the matter to WKBW.
“Yesterday, First Student jumped into action, [and] we met with [Sipowicz] to review the damage,” the statement read. “We will cover the full cost [of repair] and [the] loaner. We try to do the right thing in every instance.” After that, the company went on to condemn their driver’s actions that day.
“The driver did not follow [their] training, and that’s clear,” the statement continued. “We take that very seriously. The actions of the driver are contrary to what we train our drivers to do.” From there, First Student then praised the young girl for speaking up before revealing the driver’s ultimate fate.
“We are very impressed by the sixth-grader and her actions. We are [also] in the process of terminating the driver based on this incident,” the company explained. Meanwhile, as Sipowicz’s story continued to gain traction on social media, someone else decided to share a very similar tale of their own.
Twitter user Dima had responded to Sipowicz’s tweet after she had experienced a tough moment the previous week. Her vehicle, too, had been damaged in a hit-and-run incident, and Dima had also received a note – although in this case it was from someone who had called themselves “a good neighbor.”
“Hello,” read the letter. “I was sitting on my balcony and saw a guy hit your car. Indian (eastern) descent. Black hair, wearing glasses. He parked elsewhere and ran across the street.” It continued, “Your left rear is damaged. He drives a gray Hyundai Elantra. Go get him.”
After sharing a picture of that note on her Twitter account, Dima then replied to Sipowicz. “Shout out to all the people that see other people do hit-and-runs and leave detailed notes,” she wrote in the accompanying message. “This was left on my car last week.”
Unlike the unfortunate college student, though, Dima had quickly realized that she knew the culprit personally. “The person that hit my car was a co-worker,” the Twitter user added. “That was a fun conversation the next day!” And Dima’s post found a large audience on social media, too.
Indeed, Dima’s tweet would ultimately receive close to 10,000 likes and nearly 450 retweets on the social media platform. However, Dima and Sipowicz aren’t the first people to have shared photos of notes left on their cars after bumps.
In a similar incident to Dima’s, the owner of a Toyota Yaris had received a note from a concerned citizen. “We saw the jacka** who hit the left side of your car with his pick-up truck,” read the letter, which was shared on the website Ranker. “He was trying to park behind you, but he’s an idiot. He took off without leaving his info, so here’s his plate number. Happy hunting!”
But not everyone who has done damage to someone else’s car is quite so courteous, as another motorist once found out. “Yeah so, I hit your car,” the anonymous message they found said. “Somebody saw me do it. Therefore, I am writing this note to make it look like I am writing down my info. Sorry.”
It didn’t end there, though, as the mocking letter continued. “Uh, yeah,” the writer added. “Blah, blah, blah. They’re still watching [me]. Oh they’re gone. Later. P.S. My bad.” Thankfully for Sipowicz, he had had someone altogether more helpful on his side when his Mustang was hit. And in the end, he managed to come face-to-face with his sixth-grade hero in December 2018.
After that encounter, Sipowicz went back on Twitter to talk about it before sharing some interesting news with his followers. “I was able to meet the brave sixth-grader [on] Tuesday and thanked her for what she did,” he wrote. “The mother of the student who left the note has created a GoFundMe.”
It turns out that the young girl is an aspiring artist, in fact, and so her mom, Tocarra Lewis, is looking to secure her future. “As a child, my daughter has been taught [that] right is right and wrong is wrong,” Lewis wrote on the crowdfunding website. “This fund will help towards an arts scholarship to an arts institution.”
“It will teach our communities that by doing what’s right comes reward,” Lewis added. “Using freedom of expression, we will educate our children across the nation in doing what’s right – even when no one is watching – through art.” She also revealed that some of her girl’s work would be seen in Buffalo throughout December 2018.
And Lewis’ daughter had certainly reaped the rewards from her good deed – thanks in part to Sipowicz. “People should know about this [story],” he told The Buffalo News in November 2018. “I mean, it stinks what happened [to my car]. But I’m just extremely grateful for this kid telling the truth.”