The year is 1963 … a brand new Volkswagen Beetle Model 117 deluxe ragtop sedan rolled out of the Volkswagen factory. This year, 2013, we say Happy Birthday to Herbie! Herbie drove into people’s hearts on screen in 1968 as the star of Disney’s “Herbie The Love Bug” becoming one of the most recognized Volkswagen Beetle’s of all time, and Herbie has been a pop culture icon ever since.
Here are some really cool facts about Herbie:
- The Love Bug was based off the story “Car, Boy, Girl” by Gordon Buford in 1961.
- Although Herbie is a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle, other models were modified to replicate the ’63 Beetle.
- Nearly a dozen cars “auditioned” for the part in the Disney movie. In the lineup, there were a few Toyotas, a TVR, a handful of Volvos, an MG and a pearl white Volkswagen Beetle. The Volkswagen Beetle was chosen as it was the only one that elicited the crew to reach out and pet it.
- The Volkswagen brand name, logo, or shield does not feature anywhere in The Love Bug, as the automaker did not permit Disney to utilize the name. The later sequels produced, however, do promote the Volkswagen name (as sales of the Beetle were down when the sequels were produced).
- 5 official movies were made and 2 Made for TV movies: Herbie The Love Bug (1968). Herbie Rides Again (1974). Herbie goes to Monte Carlo (1977). Herbie goes Bananas (1980). Herbie Fully Loaded (2005).
- Approximately 100 models were made. They were used in parades, ice shows, promotions, and only 50 are known to still be around today. Many out-lived their Volkswagen life, were used as stunt cars, or wrecked.
- #53 came from the baseball jersey of Don Drysdale. The red, white, and blue stripe represented patriotism.
- Buddy Hackett said the name of “Herbie” came from his comedy show in Las Vegas about a ski instructor.
- During the exchange between Jim Douglas and Mr. Wu while hanging from Herbie’s rear bumper: “Car very strong.” “And very fast.” “The strength of forty horses.” The stock Volkswagen Beetle engine did have forty horsepower.
- Herbie is the first of only two cars to ever be credited in a film; the other is “Eleanor” (a Ford Mustang) from the original Gone in 60 Seconds movie.
Here are some pictures of how Herbie was modified over the years.
If you love some more resources to celebrate Herbies 50th Birthday these are great sites: