Another Herbie Uncovered

number-53

The Love Bug movie cars just keep coming. First we had the Thorndyke special, then one of the Herbies, and now one of the stunt cars! This wasn’t just any old stunt car though, this one was actually rigged up to driven by remote control. They didn’t use things like GPS or Google maps back then though, so excursions were always exciting. The owner, Albert H. has been kind enough to share some of these stories with us and it turns out that his car was once a barn find too. Thanks for sharing Albert!

the-love-bug-scene

Since there’s been some action on The Love Bug in the last couple days, I thought I would share with everyone my Herbie. Like Tory, I also own one of the original cars used in The Love Bug. My Herbie, a 1959 European spec Deluxe Sunroof Beetle, was used in The Love Bug as a stunt car that was rigged to be driven via remote control. My car was used primarily for stunts that were too dangerous for a stunt driver to do. Notable scenes where my car was used were the shortcut sequence in the Eldorado race, and a shot at the end of the downhill run from the mine where Herbie makes the sharp turn to avoid going off the cliff. The later of which actually led to the car being rolled like Tory’s car, however not on purpose. Power lines had jammed the signal to the car where they were filming on Big Bear Mountain, and the car quit responding to the controls and rather than turning, shot straight over the cliff. Being the only car prepared this way, a quick fix was required. The roof was badly damaged so it was pushed out as much as it could, and the car was rushed the nearest body shop where lots of filler was used to shape the roof as best as they could. The rear window opening was so badly warped that a lexan rear window had to be made and installed. This repair along with the original lexan window have managed to survive some 45 years later.

red-cross-herbie

After The Love Bug, the car was stored and then later reused in the sequel Herbie Rides Again. However, this time around the car did not appear as Herbie. There was a sequence of scenes where the films villain, Alonzo Hawk had nightmares, and each one involved Herbie in some way. One scene involved him being tied down to an operating table with two shiny white VWs with red crosses on their hoods, mechanical arms holding torches, saws, scalpels, etc. and lastly eyeballs in place of the headlights. This scene for one reason or another, was cut from the final release of the film. Yet it was part of the viewmaster reel for the film. I later tracked down an original shooting script for Herbie Rides Again that lists the scene along with all of the dialog. After the movie, the car was again stored before being sold to the MovieWorld Cars of the Stars museum in Buena Park, CA. at some point in the mid 70s. I like to think that my car at one time or another brushed up with Von Dutch, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, and Steve McQueen. And likely may have.

abandoned-herbie

In 1980 my car was then sold to the world famous Harrah’s Collection in Reno, NV. and upon their receipt of Herbie they documented the car for their inventory, but felt the car wasn’t fit for display. Herbie was then left, exposed to the elements before a series of auctions at Harrah’s to liquidate the collection. My car then passed to it’s next owner, who also left Herbie to sit outside next to a barn on their property in Nevada, where he fell further into disrepair and was further damaged before ending up with a VW collector in Florida in the late 1980s. He undertook the restoration of the car for his personal collection and upon peeling back the layers he found the remnants of the red, white, and blue racing stripes, and the 53s. The paint job applied by Disney for Herbie Rides Again was so quickly done, and was exposed for so long, that you could see the 53 under the paint on the doors. The restoration was completed around 1990/91, however the restoration was done incorrectly for a Love Bug car, but it was documented and much of the body damage was preserved along with all of the original sheet metal.

herbie-restored

A few years later Herbie was put up for sale, passing through another collector in VA, and then to yet another museum in Branson, MO. I ended up with Herbie in my collection in 1996, and he has been there ever since. I have since taken further steps to restore Herbie to how he appeared (sans the remote controls) in The Love Bug. Since the car has been in my collection, I have used it as a show vehicle, but I also participate in a few vintage rallies and other driving events. I have also taken great strides to document the car. I still retain the original California title to the car in Disney Studio’s name, and full ownership history from 1968 to today. And Herbie has become a staple at the annual Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. Herbie still loves the attention he gets, and he is given star treatment wherever he goes. It’s almost worthy of it’s own movie. So he may have not been found in a barn, but he was found next to a barn… 30 years ago.

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Comments

  1. ClayB

    We should get all the “bugs out of this story” and have a reunion of them all together once and for all.Show the Movie and all the “oldies” like me could see it one more time and share with the last 4 generations.

  2. Horse Radish

    o.k….., wonderful,
    2 down,
    48 more “to go” !

  3. rusty

    hee hee

    subscribe to “bug find”

  4. Mike Burnett

    Albert refers to Herbie as “he” but surely all cars are female, because they are initially attractive but rapidly lose their looks, are expensive and will ultimately let you down!

    • Don Andreina

      I dunno, Mike. Sophia Loren kept her beauty for a long, long time. She may have been too expensive for me, but she never let me down.

    • Bob

      Mike:
      Although many cars have a female personality, and cars are often referred to as ‘she’, you only have to drive some of the old 60’s cars (old Rovers and Aston’s come to mind) and you quickly realize that these are definitely not ‘female’ and thus become ‘he’ cars with approptiately given names. Were I to refer to my ‘Byron’ as a she I’m sure that would be grounds for an immediate (and far from nowhere) breakdown. As it is, he generally chooses to have his moments in the driveway or conveniently close to home.

  5. Mathieu B

    Thanks for sharing!!!!

  6. Greg Long

    Remember seeing your Herbie outside at Harrah’s museum right around 1980. I have always wondered what had happened to it – now I know! (I was there to see the ‘new’ 1965 Citroën 2CV Bill Harrah had bought from the Beverley Hills Citroën factory dealership (now BH Porsche) and parked in the museum. I ended up buying it 25 years later and it had only 36 miles on it. )

  7. geomechs Member

    I don’t generally see a VW bug as an icon but Herbie certainly is. I wonder if the producers of the original movie would’ve thought that the actual car would start a craze?

  8. jim s

    after 3 listing of cars from the herbie movies i might have to break down and watch all 6 movies for the first time! a good winter project, i think

  9. Charles

    Cool piece of history.

  10. Stephan Weber

    I remember sitting in this exact car years ago at a starlight car cruise in Wexford PA. Herbie was a staple of my childhood and a few design cues have stuck with me as favorites. I believe Herbie’s round lights and “bug” name subconsciously made me buy a 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX “Bugeye” for my first car. It was really cool to read about this car I had almost forgot about.

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