Even with a star-studded cast that included Dean Jones, David Tomlinson, Buddy Hackett, and Michele Lee, there was no misconception with audiences as to who was the real star of Walt Disney’s The Love Bug. That title belonged solely to Number 53, a sassy white Volkswagen Beetle, complete with blue and red pinstripes and a whole lot of attitude in this 1968 classic.
Life for the Love Bug, affectionately known as “Herbie” isn’t going so swimmingly. The car is owned by a short-tempered English racer named Peter Thorndyke, whose combination of lead foot and short fuse are too much for the car to handle. Luckily, there is a better home for Herbie, that of mild-mannered race car driver, Jim Douglas, a man with a losing streak on the track that just won’t quit. Herbie decides to repay this newfound kindness with some speedy antics on the track, and soon Jim is a champion.
Of course, this winning streak catches the attention of Herbie’s former owner, who decides he wants the now-winning Bug back in his possession. A tug of war ensues between the two men, culminating in plenty of car chasing action, mixed with the Disney tradition of slapstick humor.
Directed by prolific Disney director, Robert Stevenson, The Love Bug became the 3rd highest-grossing film of 1968 and would accelerate Herbie into a very successful film franchise. Four sequels followed, the most recent in 2005, giving Herbie a winning streak that would last for 37 years. Not too bad for a little ol’ bug.
If you have fond memories of this classic Disney film, we hope you’ll share all of your Love Bug recollections in our comments section, as we tip our hats to the little Volkswagen that could … and did.