The Love Bug, affectionately known as Herbie, hit the silver screen in 1969. A special, classic Beetle, the Love Bug was a 1963 Volkswagen (VW) Beetle ragtop sedan. These cars, known as Beetles, Bugs, V-Dubs, the "people's car" and the VW Type-1, are air-cooled, rear-engine vehicles made in Germany. Originally designed by Ferdinand Porsche, the Beetle was chosen by Walt Disney to star in his studio's film.
The Love Bug basics
The 1963 VW Beetle chosen for The Love Bug movie was a "deluxe ragtop sedan painted in Volkswagen L87 pearl white," states the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). If the car had come straight from the factory, its interior would have matched the pearl paint on the exterior and been white. However, due to the nature of movie lighting and camera shots, the Beetle's interior had to be painted a nonreflective grey. The car's name was Herbie. Its license plate was OFP-857, and its racing number was 53.
The car with personality
Herbie the Love Bug isn't just any old car. He is unique. He has personality and the ability to drive without a driver. Herbie befriends race car driver Jim Douglas, and together they take on the not-so-nice, big-wig car dealer Thorndyke, resulting in a thrilling finish in the El Dorado car race. In between the movie features crazy stunts, many laughs and friendships formed.
One movie was not enough
The popularity of The Love Bug resulted in additional Herbie movies. Herbie Rides Again was released in 1974, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo in 1977, Herbie Goes Bananas in 1980, The Love Bug television movie in 1997 and Herbie Fully Loaded in 2005. Each movie featured multiple VW Herbies that could perform various tricks and stunts. For example, 26 Herbies were built for Herbie Goes Bananas. The mud-covered, shaking Herbie was in more than one scene, including one where he shakes like a dog after coming out of water. Herbie Fully Loaded featured not only the traditional 1963 Beetle but also its younger sibling, the New Beetle (circa 1998).
A special car equals special events
Fans of the Love Bug can enjoy the classic VW in a variety of ways. Several Volkswagen car shows are held throughout the United States annually. These include Mid America Motorworks' Funfest in Illinois, BugOut at the Old Dominion Speedway in Virginia and BugIn in southern California. There are many VW toys to collect, both Herbie replicas as well as other Bug styles. These may make ideal gifts for your favorite fan. Love Bug fans who also are brides-to-be may consider renting a classic Volkswagen Beetle for their wedding day car.
The Love Bug movie brought the classic Beetle to a large audience, and its charm has stood the test of time. When the 2005 film was released, a new generation was introduced to the Love Bug. While Volkswagen may be producing the new styles of Beetles, there's still something special about Herbie, and he will always have a place in Love Bug fans' hearts.