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Lynchburg woman trusts young Richmond stranger with her ‘Love Bug’

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Kim Steger loves her 1973 Volkswagon Super Beetle.

"It was my first car," she recalled Thursday evening.

Back then she was 16, going to high school in Chesterfield County.

Now her own daughter is that age, looking for her first car.

"I had always had a thought, a vision a dream, that my oldest daughter . . . this would be her first car," Kim said.

She and her husband looked around their home in Lynchburg for a restoration shop, "but they wanted way too much money."

Enter 25-year-old Cullen Kohls of Richmond. He loves Beetles - he has one of his own in parts and pieces - and he wanted to learn more about the fine art of restoring them.

He posted on social media about it.

"I met her on Craigslist," Cullen recalled Thursday. "She was like, 'I have this Bug.' She wanted to get it restored. She was trying to get it done for good price. And I was looking for a car to paint. I love Bugs. I reached out to her and offered to paint it up for her in exchange for, like, the experience."

It was two years ago when the Stegers dropped off the tired, dinged, rusted-out Bug.

Bug 2

Imagine this in these modern, scam-filled times:

Cullen gave her his bank account number, and she would deposit the money he needed for parts and materials. He'd send her receipts and updates.

Cullen and his friends - including his girlfriend - chipped in, moving the car hither and yon as it got cut, welded, ground, filled, sanded, prepped, primped, carpeted, reupholstered, chromed and rebuilt. "Sanding, priming - sanding, priming," Cullen recalled.

For two years this went on, bit by bit. They'd met just that once, but they texted back and forth and would call each other on occasion.

"She's just a nice lady," Cullen said. "She prays for me all the time."

Cullen Khols

Cullen Khols

Thursday evening, they met for the second time - when Kim and her husband came to drive the Beetle home.

"I can't believe this is the same car!" Kim said after giving Cullen a big hug.

She got the tour of her new old Beetle, crying out in pleasure several times; at the new seat belts, carpets, bright red paint (it was rusty teal), tight-fitting doors and especially the sweet-running engine.

Her eyes filled with tears as she shared how much this meant to her - how much trust and faith and a dedicated young person can accomplish.

Kim

Kim

"There's great people in the world, and you just have to give them a chance," Kim said. "And you just have to trust each other."

The front seats still need to be redone and there are a few other bugs common to Bugs that need sorting out.

But Cullen had run out of time. He has to leave for Colorado to help take care of his mother, who is in her third battle with cancer, he said.

Besides, the car is ready to roll, he said.

Kim and Cullen

Kim and Cullen

The experience totally schooled him, he added. There were times when he was overwhelmed, wondering if he was up to all the many tasks that make up a project like this.

But now he's got the skills, he said, to tackle his own Bug, which sits windowless and primered - like a ghost - on a trailer behind the rental truck he'll be driving to Colorado.

As she got ready to drive the bright, new-looking Bug back to Lynchburg, Kim and Cullen hugged again.

"Thank you," she said. "Oh my gosh, you have no idea."

Cullen answered softly, "I'm glad."

Check out the video to see how it all turned out.