Herbie Tribute: 1977 Volkswagen Beetle

Classic automobile fans see “tribute” or “clone” cars all the time – some good, some not-so-good. This particular one is, in my opinion, one of the better ones, and it’s up for grabs here on eBay out of Sarasota, Florida, with no reserve and 1 bid of $4,500 as I’m writing this.

For those unfamiliar with Herbie “The Love Bug”, I’ll do my best to catch you up: In 1968, Walt Disney Productions released Herbie The Love Bug. It was based on Gordon Buford’s 1961 book Car, Boy, Girl and starred an anthropomorphic race-prepared 1963 Beetle, with Dean Jones, Michelle Lee, and Buddy Hackett as the human protagonists. Jones’s character was a failing race driver, Lee’s character was an employee at a swanky sports-car dealership, and Hackett’s character was a spiritually-enlightened mechanic who roomed with Jones’s character and helped turn wrenches. Long story short: Herbie wanted Jones and Lee’s characters to fall in love, and Hackett was along for the ride. Spoiler alert: Herbie wins the big race, and the two main characters fall in love. Since then, multiple movies and a TV series have come and gone, all with happy endings.

In regard to this car, we’re told that it’s a 1977 Standard Beetle with extensive appearance work done, but no mention of any mechanical work. Fans of the movies will notice that its outward appearance is that of the car in Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo, which just happens to have been released that same year. The exterior looks nearly spot-on to the movie, while the interior gives it away immediately. The seller gives us the impression that the previous owner did all of the work, presumably out of a love for Beetles, Herbie in particular.

So much was put into the look of this car, that the license-plate ring calls out the original (fictional) selling dealer from the first movie, a custom hood lettering spells out “The Love Bug” and a Trans-France Race decal adorns the rear window.

Call me crazy, but I kind of dig it. I’m not usually a big fan of “tribute” cars, but there’s something different about this one. The seller says that they’ve had it and kept it up for the last few years, so that’s a big plus in my book. I would want to add air conditioning and tend to any rust that it might have.  It would probably make an excellent fun-driver, affordable to keep up and get as many smiles and attention up here in the Northeast United States as the current owner gets down in Florida. Would you consider owning a tribute car?


  1. TimM

    Growing up in the era I did the movie was something we all watched as kids!! Looks to be a good solid car!! Tributes are always an owners way of honoring that what has put an impact on his or her life!! Looks good!!

    Like 6
  2. Ken Carney

    My niece would love this car! She’s always talked about wanting one too.
    Too bad I don’t the cash to make it happen. Sarasota isn’t all that far from here, and it would be a blast driving it
    home. I’m sure it’ll find a good home.

    Like 3

    They did a lot to back date this Beetle including fenders lights bumpers lights and sunroof to name a few not to mention all the small details. No car was harmed.

    Like 3
    • Mike

      The huge gap between the 5 and the 3 on the hood would drive me nuts. If you google pictures of tributes, number placement is all over the board.

      Like 2
      • Little_Cars

        Not the same as the encircled “53” on the doors. Weird.

        Like 1
  4. nycbjr Member

    You could get AC in a bug??

  5. 8banger Dave Member

    nycbjr – Yep, but more power-sapping than you would think.

  6. Ben T. Spanner

    A 1977 standard bug is a domestic import from Mexico? All these years, and I though it was “Herpes” the lovebug.

    Like 1
  7. Roy L

    Someone step on that bug. Just kidding, nice looking car.

  8. Rusty

    I have seen way too many Bella running around spring the number 53. That said, this one is a huge improvement over most of them. They seem to have a lot of details “right”.

  9. John Almstead

    HERBIE! I was the owner that originally had him before his trip to FL. I found him at a local VW shop in Greenwich CT, and was sitting for a long time looking sad. Turned out it was left to be worked on, but the owners at the time were going through a divorce and he sat until it was finalized. It was a Herbie when I found him, story goes the original owners had a farm in NY called “The Love Bug Farm” When I picked him up he was in sad shape, needed all new fenders and wiring. I managed to update all the new parts to match a 63 bug, and was able to match the color to the original movie car. The decals were purchased by Greg Carr who is a member of the LoveBugFans.com page. I also added the bits “Badges and Gas Cap” to the car, as I am a designer with CAD and a 3D printer. Sad to see that he is back up for sale, might be interested in having him back, but not the right time. To who ever get to take him home I am sure you will be very happy driving him around town as much as did.

    Like 4
    • Russell Glantz Staff

      Wow, thank you for sharing the story! I sincerely appreciate it.

      Like 1
  10. Chebby Staff

    In the movie, Dean Jones lives in an amazing old Victorian firehouse at the top of a hill in San Francisco….because he’s a “loser.” LOL.

    Like 3
  11. Edward

    This is not a car for investment. An uninitiated VW enthusiast might be tempted to bid in or buy such a vehicle, but be warned! As pictured, this car sports multiple year parts, and major body modification of the original unit. Those interested should know that it is a conglomeration of pieces to make a facsimile. Buy only as a driver, not as an investment for future potential profit. IMO

  12. eastlex91

    The kid in me totally wants this. Herbie was one of the most fun Hollywood automotive creations ever! What a great way to make people smile on your way to work. Who cares if it is not “all original!”

    Like 2

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