Herbie the Love Bug is a 1963 enchanted Volkswagen Beetle automobile imbued with a mind and spirit of its own on the CBS fantasy HERBIE, THE LOVE BUG (1982).
Dean Jones, who previously starred in the Walt Disney movie “The Love Bug” (1968), reprised his role as Jim Douglas, the car’s reluctant owner who was adopted by Herbie the Love Bug.
To support his new wife, divorced Julie MacLane (Patricia Harty) and her three children, Jim (and Herbie) ran The Famous Driving School and taught a class in driver’s education for a local high school. The outcome of such endeavors (with Herbie along for the ride) led to predictable hilarious results. Jim’s arch-rival is snooty Randy Bigelow (Larry Linville).
Herbie communicates with the sound of his engine, the rumble of his exhaust, his horn and even the dashboard clock. He can respond with his headlights, and his antenna bends to listen in on private conversations. If Herbie dislikes someone, he squirts oil on them.
Other films to feature Herbie included:
- Herbie Rides Again (1974) as Herbie helps an old lady from a corrupt real estate developer.
- “Herbie Day in Disneyland” (1974) a TV special taped in their Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California.
- Herbie in Monte Carlo (1977) as Jim Douglas drives Herbie in a European car rally.
- Herbie Goes Bananas (1980) as Herbie helps his new owner break up a counterfeit ring in Mexico.
- Herbie the Matchmaker (1981) as Herbie helps a young couple find romance.
- The Love Bug (TV Movie 1997) starring Bruce Campbell as Herbie’s new owner Hank Campbell who ends up battling a devil car called “Horace” owned by a nefarious race car driver.
In 2005, Disney re-engineered it successful movie franchise and premiered “Herbie: Fully Loaded” starring Lindsay Lohan and Michael Keaton.
In the film, Lindsay plays Maggie Peyton, the daughter of Ray Peyton, Sr., a former racing giant whose family had once been part of a NASCAR dynasty. With renewed hope that his daughter (Lohan) can return the family to its former status in the racing world, Ray enlists Herbie’s old friend Kevin (Justin Long) to prepare Maggie and Herbie for competition in the NASCAR circuit.
Maggie initially finds Herbie in a local junkyard while she looked for a car to restore. When she opened up the Herbie’s glove box, she found a letter that read “Please take care of Herbie. Whatever your problems, he will help you solve them.” Maggie sarcastically remarked, “Great, a fortune cookie on wheels.”
NOTE: The original Disney’s Herbie the Love Bug can be found on display at the Swigart Automobile Museum in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.
Herbie’s license plate number is OFP 857 (California registry, black plate, yellow letters). This plate number stayed with Herbie up until “Herbie Fully Loaded” in 2005.
The letters and numbers on Herbie’s tag stands for The Love Bug’s producer, Robert Stevenson, who first worked with Walt Disney in August of 1957, so OFP 857 represents: Our First Production, 8-57.
In the “Love Bug” movies, Herbie had two girlfriends. In “Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo” (1977) his girlfriend was a 1976 Lancia Scorpion named Giselle. In “Herbie: Fully Loaded” (2005) Herbie’s girlfriend was Sally, a (new) yellow Beetle.
Historically, the Volkswagen car was created in Germany during the rise of Adolph Hitler in the 1930s who recognized the Volkswagen (or “People’s Car”) as an iconic symbols of his Nazi Regime.
The NBC cartoon WHEELIE AND THE CHOPPER BUNCH (1974-1975) featured Wheelie, a red Volkswagen Beetle, who makes a living as a racing and stunt car, and his dune buggy girlfriend, Rota Ree.
Wheelie’s nemeses is a motorcycle gang (of just motorcycles, no riders) called the Chopper Bunch, whose members included Chopper, the leader and his sidekicks, Revs, Hi-Riser and Scrambles.
Herbie, the Love Bug
c/o Jim Douglas and Family
Los Angeles, CA