Yellow Car, Slug-A-Bug! Hurtable Convertible!

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Here’s how it worked: the kids and their friends would ride in the back of our minivan. Because car loads of kids are always fun. As we traveled, our son Wesley would call out “Yellow car!,” and since he was the first one to spot it, this entitled him to punch the kid sitting next to him. Hard. He would dole out a blow to someone’s upper arm, and life would go on.  It might look like the start of a harmless enough game on the surface, but it wasn’t.

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Kind of like the war in Vietnam, it had a tendency to escalate. While playing this game, it was possible to be one-upped. Wes has a sharp eye and was good at “yellow car”, but his friend Dougie could be a bit of a troublemaker sometimes, and when he played, the level of violence increased exponentially. The sighting of a Volkswagen Beetle, aka “bug”, would initiate the Def-Con 4 sequence spiral of events known as “slug-a-bug”. It’s like “yellow car”, except more dangerous, with much harder hits, and lots more of them. When a Beetle was spotted, and someone would call it, and I often observed what looked and sounded like my own private Bruce Lee movie happening inside my van, visible in the rear-view mirror. The kids would scream in simultaneous pain and delight. But when one of these came around, that’s when things got ugly.

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Behold, my friends, the Fat Man-Little Boy of the juvenile automotive spotter’s world.  This is the Yellow Car Slug-a-Bug Hurtable Convertible.  You didn’t want to be sitting anywhere around the kid that was the first to lay eyes on this one. Even three rows away in the same vehicle wasn’t entirely safe. By the time you saw it, it meant things had gone nuclear. Anything was now permissible.  The balled fists would fly like machine gun fire in close-quarters battle. Those who were killed off early were the lucky ones. Any atrocity was now possible, or legal, and any manner of personal bodily injury likely. Bruises. Black eyes. Concussion. Subdural hematoma. Basilar skull fracture. You name it. I don’t know how those kids survived as long as they have. Maybe I should have tried to establish some rules? Some etiquette? But what fun would that have been?

If you like the looks of the car shown in these photos, the seller says it runs but needs brake work and other work. He says the floor pans have been restored, and the top mechanism is in working condition. It’s listed for sale here on St. Louis Craigslist for $3000. Do you think it will make a good project car, or does even looking at it give you PTSD?

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Comments

  1. Amicus

    Beatles were “Punchbuggies” to my kids. ’60 Beatle went for $110,000 at Goodings Amelia Island auction on the weekend. (pre-sale est $35-$50,000) Of course it had 15,000 original miles, was owned in real, pre-collector car life by an actual little old lady school teacher, was in immaculate to better than new condition and from the Jerry Seinfeld collection. Still even without all that being a convertible this may have some potential.

  2. Ryan

    This was a great read from start to finish

  3. Andy

    My folks bought their first VW in 1965, before I was born, and except for a year or two between ditching their new ’66 Microbus and getting their used ’67 Squareback, at least one parent had a VW until 1984. That means my sisters and I spent most of our childhoods riding around in one. We never heard of “punch buggy” or “slug a bug” till we were grown up, I guess because we were always in one. On the other hand, we were always hitting and punching each other, so maybe we were playing Ultimate Punch Buggy because we could never NOT see one!

  4. Gary Oliver

    I’ve been driving this VW beetle for almost 30 years. I’ve observed the slug-bug games numerous times. Once when a camp bus passed me going in the opposite direction. You could see the kids pounding each other as they passed me. Another time some men were working on the side of the road when one slug-bugged the man digging with a shovel next to him. The man digging fell into the ditch after being punched. Quite a show.

  5. JACKinNWPA Jack NWPA Member

    We’ve and an air cooled Volkswagen family fetage for a loooong time and it became “punch a bug no returns” and new Beetles didn’t count. our old now dead phone number was 589-3267 ( 5VW FANS) The children are grown,what’s her name is now an X. and I still have a Ghia,Baja Beetle and a Thing prioject. so this “vert will have to go to someone else.

  6. cliffyc

    That game could get out of hand in New York with all the taxi cabs….

  7. Howard A Member

    Yeah, then Dad would step in, ” Knock it off, you two, DON’T MAKE ME TURN THIS CAR AROUND”!!!! We weren’t allowed to acknowledge VW’s when traveling, but I do remember the game. This bug looks a little tired, but a ragtop VW, I’d bet, would sell pretty quick. Clean ones can bring 10g’s. Cool find.

  8. Andreas Hansen

    I have a blue 71′ beetle in South Brazil and here when you see a Blue Beetle you punch who is closest. To do this, you scream “Fusca Azul”. When, in last year, i travelled through Argentina/Chile/Uruguai, see others doing the same when see us but in spanish, just “PUNCHO!”. :)

    http://viajandodefusca.com.br

  9. VetteDude

    PunchBug came along with my grand boys, but back in the 1950’s, dating in high school, our game was “Skiddle/Padiddle.” It worked best when double-dating. At night when a car with one headlight was seen, the boys hollared Skiddle, or if the girls saw it first would holler Padiddle. And, whoever saw and hollared first had to be kissed by their partner. It took me 20 years to figure out there were no losers in this game.

  10. Birdman

    We play both the “Yellow Car Game” minus the punch and the “Punch Buggy Game” minus the punch(I live with 3 women)…

    In the Yellow Car Game,

    1 point for each yellow car, extra point for naming the make and model of the car/truck,

    Cabs, school buses, and construction related equipment are not allowed, they are minus 5 points if you call them…

    Yellow Planes are worth 50 points(yes, they do exist… my 13 year old daughter saw one…I thought she was having heart attack or something..lol…)

    Motorcycles 5 points

    And then for the oddball stuff.. it’s up to everyone who’s playing…

  11. Eric Dashman

    Here’s one in New Bern, NC for $2500 OBO – http://raleigh.craigslist.org/cto/5452091392.html

  12. Chris A.

    Great stories on Bugs. A variation on the Skiddle-Padiddle is Perdiddle-Perdunkle, same idea same great result unless I was double dating with my sister; “Don’t even think about it”. I was very small and with 5 in the family I actually had more room in the luggage box behind the rear seat rather than have to be squished in the middle between my sisters. We all learned to drive on ’55 and ’58 black VW convertibles. I still have a ’53-’54 actual VW shop manual that I get out to read every now and then and just laugh. Learned more about metric measurement from that manual than I ever did in junior high. Froze in the winter, but never got stuck. Dad would drive it to work and was able to park over a steam line. It always started:)

  13. C brand

    We played slug bug (7 of us) in the Kingswood stationwagon ! It could get quite brutal !! Mom was more than happy to get to our destination !! lol Great memories

  14. starsailing

    Slugabug didn’t do to well when growing up in my neighborhood. For some reason one of the dufus guys thought they could do a slugabug punch and think they would not get their Butt handed to them right back. The other one was seeing a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes some place….and some fool again would shout “Lucky Strike”…and punch you…..Well warning to them once….they would pick up the empty cigarette pack to use over again in some other location…as if they came across a new empty pack. Forwarned….as an 7-8 yr old…I gave the friend a bloody nose….right back…which again his father had to take him to hospital to get cauterized. You would think after the third time in a couple years he would not do it again. You would think anyways….
    About 1974, Boss had Yellow Beetle about same year above( I recognize the bumper) When he would run to McDonalds at lunch he would park his car and dump out extra ketchup packs and leave on parking lot ground. Sometimes leaving whole empty bag back right there when going in the back whse door. I pulled my 66 442 into space next to the beetle and ran over a ketchup packet which I didn’t notice….squirting/spraying the whole driver side apparently with acid type ketchup he had thrown on the ground. Hot day..it really stained the paint. Well he saw the empty bag etc he threw on the ground…and finally quit doing it. Had to use polishing compound to get out!

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