From Beetles to robotics, one teacher's passion for cool machines

Troy Rivers Jr.’s obsession with air-cooled Volkswagen cars dates back to his early teens. While his classmates were saving up for newer models, Rivers was pinching his pennies to be able to purchase a bright green 1969 Baja Volkswagen Beetle.

“I went and looked at it with my mom and fell in love with it,” says Rivers. “It’s a blast to drive.”

He attributes his love of vintage vehicles to his father and grandfather, who enjoyed owning and fixing up classic cars. “Growing up, I just remember being in the back seat of these cool cars,” says Rivers. “I’ve kind of taken the obsession to another level.”

Since then, Rivers’ Baja Beetle has become an important member of the family. It was the car Rivers drove off in after exchanging vows with his wife, Lindsay, and played a starring role in the pregnancy announcement of their son, Colt. “He is definitely going to be car crazy, just like me,” says Rivers.

Troy Rivers Jr. and his beloved 1969 Baja Bettle. Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards.

Over time, Rivers has added more Volkswagen vehicles to the family—his growing collection includes a 1970 Volkswagen Type 2 Bus, a 1973 Volkswagen Thing, and four more vintage Volkswagen Beetle cars.

“The thing that made me go back to the VW family is that they’re a car that everybody can relate to,” says River. “It seems like everybody has a story with them.”

Rivers’ automotive interest blends surprisingly well with another one of his passions: teaching. Initially on a business degree track, Rivers was inspired to switch careers and pursue teaching after seeing how much joy working with children brought his wife. “Initially, I just wanted to make a lot of money,” Rivers says. “Then, one day, something just clicked. I’ve always loved kids, so I decided to be a teacher and I never looked back.”

Currently a third-grade teacher in Loganville, Ga., Rivers uses his automotive know-how to help co-host the school’s robotics club. “I kind of relate it to working on cars,” says Rivers. They “have to be good with following directions, because they have to follow very detailed directions [and] go through hundreds of different steps to build the actual robot.”

This past year, ten of his students were invited to compete on the state level against middle schoolers. “It was very cool,” says Rivers.

In years to come, Rivers plans to continue to share his Volkswagen fervor with his students and son. “Being able to pass on my passion of cars … [and] share that with my son is like nothing else,” Rivers says.

Troy Rivers Jr. with his wife Lindsay and their son Colt. Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards.