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Dave Wallis, Published August 15 2011

Portraits: Joel Herman

People stop to look at the cool device that catches their attention on the passenger-side window of Joel Herman’s 1962 Volkswagen Beetle. The cool device is actually a cooling device, an early version of air conditioning. “It was a common accessory on many early cars,” the Fargo resident says, adding, “It was the next best thing.” The Thermador Car Cooler, found by the car’s previous owner on the eBay Internet auction site, works when filled with water. Air forced through the unit when the vehicle is moving flows over a wick that absorbs water and cools the air that is forced into the car. “I imagine the passenger would get quite an earache driving down the road,” Herman says. The Gulf Blue-painted car was discovered in Boise, Idaho, by a friend of his in 2006. It then went to Oregon before ending up in North Carolina. Herman obtained it in 2010 and has no plans to refurbish the outside of it. “This is the look I go for. It took Mother Nature 50 years to make this look. I don’t want to screw that up.” The car still has its original AM radio, “but it doesn’t work,” adds Herman, who was attending the sixth-annual Red River VW Club gathering in Fargo.