The Transformers are going to be in their 4th motion picture with the release of Transformers: Age of Extinction this week. We got to thinking, why did they chose to make Bumblebee a Chevrolet Camero instead of its original form as a Volkswagen Yellow Beetle?
Bumblebee is the small AutoBot in the Transformer series television show,comics, and live action movies. According to the Transformers Wikipedia he was in charge of 4 other AutoBots and at times even questioned his own usefulness. Bumblebee throughout the series looked up to Optimus Prime and other AutoBots. He has a very distinct look as a Yellow Rally Beetle and when he transforms he has horns. The 1st generation Bumblebee is iconic (said to be between a 1947-79 Beetle). It followed up by a gold VW Beetle (Goldbug) which he was shown as a bit tougher. When Michael Bay decided to make the Transformers movies, he is states in the special features section of the 1st movie, that he didn’t want to use the VW Beetle because it reminded him too much of Herbie. (Lamest reason ever) As a tribute to the original form of Bumblebee, a yellow Volkswagen Beetle appears next to the Camero at the car dealership. Bumblebee damages the Beetle in order to ensure that Sam purchases him. He also has a bee-shaped air freshener attached to his rear view mirror with the words “Bee-otch”.
A little more information on why Michael Bay didn’t use a VW Beetle can be found on the FAQ section on IMDB for Transformers(2007):
Producers couldn’t get rights from Volkswagen to use a Beetle as Volkswagen didn’t want their product being associated with a violent film. Michael Bay told Wired Magazine he made the change because he wanted the mass of the Transformers in robot form to be believable compared to vehicle form. Thus a Beetle would have resulted in Bumblebee being much smaller as a robot. Bay wanted to avoid comparisons to Herbie the Love Bug, and that he felt that Bumblebee needed a new look. With the exception of Optimus Prime, ALL Autobots are General Motors vehicles. (GMC, Hummer, Pontiac, and Chevy). Early on in the film, we briefly see the new Bumblebee next to ‘an old 1971 VW Beetle’ in a nod to his past. Sam has to choose between the old yellow Beetle and the Camaro, but of course chooses the Camaro. It’s interesting to note that the Beetle in the film is actually a 1973-1977 VW Super Beetle, a very different model than the common Beetle.
Not sure if the rights from Volkswagen is true, as Volkswagen has plenty of their models in a variety of movies and television.
We certainly miss the old Bumblebee VW Beetle.