Herbie the Love Bug Makes a Pit Stop in Hershey
Hershey, PA (December 9, 2010) Herbie more commonly known as The Love Bug, one of the most recognizable and lovable vehicles in American motion picture history, currently has a winter home at the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Museum at Hershey Pennsylvania. Herbie is visiting the museum starting December 11th from their usual home, the William E. Swigart Jr. Automobile Museum located at Huntington Pennsylvania. The Swigart museum (America’s oldest automobile museum) has been kind enough to let them visit in Hershey until they return home at the end of April 24, 2011.
Herbie made his television debut in the 1969 Walt Disney Productions film The Love Bug which was the biggest American box office hit of that year. The movie was based on a book written in 1961 by Gordon Buford called “Car, Boy, Girl”. After the 1969 debut the world never looked at Volkswagen beetles the same way. Herbie became a cultural icon and one of the most recognizable cars in the world. Herbie’s movie career continued as he appeared in four sequel movies, a television series, a made-for-TV movie and a Disney on Ice show. Herbie is now recognized for inspiring many people in becoming Volkswagen enthusiasts.
The Herbie vehicles on display at Hershey starred in The Love Bug sequel Herbie Rides Again which was released in 1974. The original Herbie was a pearl white 1963 Volkswagen (VW) Model 117 Deluxe 2-door sedan equipped with a sunroof. Walt Disney Productions considered many different makes and models for the part. Their decision was finalized only after they parked various vehicles just inside the employee entrance at Disneyland and observed employees reactions as they examined each vehicle. The VW Beetle got the most attention and smiles; it seemed to make people the happiest and was chosen for the film.
Bill Walsh, producer of the original movie The Love Bug, chose red, white and blue as the colors of Herbie’s racing stripes; he was seeking a patriotic theme. Walsh also came up with the number 53 which was based on the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball star Don Drysdale’s uniform number. In the original film all of the Volkswagen emblems were removed from the Herbies because there was no partnership between the filmmaker and the automaker. In the sequel Herbie Rides Again Disney partnered with Volkswagen to promote the film and the vehicle emblems were returned ultimately helping boost sells for Volkswagen.
Approximately 70 VW cars were used in all the films, parades, ice shows and promotions that featured Herbie. Because Volkswagen did not change the basic body design similar models from 1957-63 were used for filming; all retained the original color pearl white and were later equipped with racing stripes and the number 53. The interior features of Herbie cars such as the dashboard, door panels, headliner and upholstery were all painted grey in order to minimize reflection from bright cinematography lights used for filming. Because Herbie performed many stunts in his career many of the cars used for filming were destroyed and some got repainted, sold and used as regular commuter vehicles. There are only about 20 known authentic Herbie’s left so watch a Herbie movie or two then come meet the world famous stars.
The Antique Automobile Club of America Museum, a member of the Smithsonian Institute Affiliations Program, displays beautifully restored automobiles, buses and motorcycles in unique life-like scenes representing the 1900’s–1970’s in a cross-country journey from New York to San Francisco. This Museum, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is one of the nation’s newest and largest automotive museums. Special exhibits change several times a year and focus on a variety of eras and types of vehicles. The Museum is located just off Route 39, one mile west of Hersheypark Drive in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Regular admission $10, seniors age 61 and older $9, juniors age 4-12 $7, children age 3 and under are FREE. The Museum is open daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. For further information, please call 717-566-7100 or visit www.AACAMuseum.org.
717-566-7100 ext. 123