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Herbie the Love Bug

Herbie a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle (who takes on human traits),is a character that is featured in several Disney motion pictures starting with the 1968 feature film The Love Bug. He has a mind of his own and is capable of driving himself, and is a serious contender in auto racing competitions. Throughout most of the franchise, Herbie is distinguished by red, white and blue racing stripes from front to back bumper, a racing-style number "53" on the front luggage compartment lid, doors, and engine lid, and a yellow-on-black '63 California license plate with the lettering "OFP 857".

History

Herbie's origins are established in The Love Bug, wherein Herbie was bought from Peter Thorndyke's showroom by San Francisco socialite Mrs. Van Luit for her upstairs maid, but returned shortly afterwards, ostensibly for reliability problems, and purchased by race-driver Jim Douglas (Dean Jones), who had earlier stood up for him against the pompous Thorndyke. Tennessee Steinmetz, Jim's friend and roommate, names the car "Herbie" after his uncle Herb.

In Herbie Rides Again, Herbie has been left to Tennessee's aunt, Mrs. Steinmetz (Helen Hayes), the widow of Herb whom the car was named after. Mrs. Steinmetz and her neighbour, Nicole Harris (Stefanie Powers) try to save her house from being bulldozed by Alonzo Hawk (Keenan Wynn), with the help of Herbie. During the film it is explained that after several successful races with Herbie, Douglas entered foreign racing circuits, while his sidekick Tennessee is residing in Tibet to help his ailing instructor. Tennessee left Herbie with his aunt, Mrs. Steinmetz.

By Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, Douglas enters Herbie in the Trans-France Race and recruits mechanic friend Wheely Applegate (Don Knotts) to assist, after Herbie falls in love with a Lancia Montecarlo named Giselle and Douglas with her driver Diane Darcy (Julie Sommars). Herbie also finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time when the stolen Etoile de Joie diamond is hidden in his fuel tank.

In Herbie Goes Bananas, Douglas has retired from racing after the Monte Carlo race and leaves Herbie to his nephew, Pete Stancheck (Stephen W. Burns), who plans to enter Herbie in the Brazil Grand Primeo race. In the interim, Herbie befriends an orphan named Paco, with whom he wreaks havoc onboard cruise ship the Sun Princess, prompting the overzealous Captain Blythe (Harvey Korman) to force Herbie to "walk the plank". Having fallen into the ocean, Herbie is rescued by Paco and disguised as a taxi, later to stop a gang of con artists from stealing ancient Inca gold. Early in their partnership, Paco gives Herbie the nickname "Ocho", the Spanish word for the number 8; purportedly because the digits 5 and 3 in Herbie's racing number, 53, were combined to produce '8' (5+3 = 8) and possibly to rhyme with "Vocho", the Beetle's name in Mexico.

After the Mexico debacle, Douglas takes Herbie and opens a driving school in Herbie the Matchmaker.
Hank Cooper (Bruce Campbell) becomes the owner of Herbie in the 1997 made-for-television movie The Love Bug, wherein Herbie's designer, an elderly German engineer named Dr. Gustav Stumpfel, designed him as a "living machine"; but was forced to build an evil Volkswagen counterpart to Herbie, "Horace the Hate Bug," responsible for killing the true Herbie at one point in the film. Horace is of course painted monochrome black, with louvered windows, contributing to his "evil" look. Cooper then buries Herbie; but the return of Jim Douglas sets Cooper to rebuild the fallen Love Bug (with the help of repentant Dr. Stumpfel) and have him race against evil doppelganger Horace. In this race, Herbie ultimately divides himself in half (as in the original film) to win the race.

Herbie is then passed down from owner to owner until he is bought by Maggie Peyton (Lindsay Lohan) in Herbie: Fully Loaded, eventually to compete in a demolition derby and NASCAR races. In this film, Herbie falls in love with a yellow Volkswagen New Beetle.

Films

The Love Bug (1968) — directed by Robert Stevenson
Herbie Rides Again (1974) — directed by Robert Stevenson
Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977) — directed by Vincent McEveety
Herbie Goes Bananas (1980) — directed by Vincent McEveety
The Love Bug (1997) made-for-TV movie — directed by Peyton Reed
Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005) — Directed by Angela Robinson

 

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