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Ride Of The Week 03/20/2023: Albert Heiles' 1959 VW Bug


AN HONEST-TO-GOD MOVIE CAR

A chance meeting at an indoor dog park with an acquaintance of the organizer of a cars & coffee fund raiser for the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix led me to an encounter with a childhood star car. (Thanks Fritzy Pup!) I knew I would see pre-war classic and exotics, but little did I know that I’d run into one of the original movie cars used in 1959’s “Herbie The Love Bug”.


Among the Bentleys, Rolls, Maseratis and Mercedes at this event was a little 1959 Volkswagen Beetle owned by Albert Heiles of Cranberry, PA. It is car #6 of 12 used in the filming of Disney’s “Herbie the Love Bug”. He obtained it from a museum in Branson, MO.


According to the story, the car was found sitting in the Nevada desert in the late 1980s. A weathered ‘53’ was noticed under the quickie white-wash paint job. It turns out that paint job was for the 1974 Disney film, “Herbie Rides Again”. This car was painted white, with a red cross on the bonnet to appear in a dream sequence that was cut from the final film. The villain, played by Keenan Wynn was on an operating table and the doctors and nurses were all played by VW bugs.


The car was fully restored to its original condition as a stunt car for the first film. After obtaining it from the museum, Al did a lot of research on the car. He came to find that it was set up for remote control operation and was rolled during a stunt sequence in the 1959 production. He pointed out the wavy condition of the roof line and how the gaps of the boot and door didn’t quite line up. Legend has it that the boot, bonnet, and doors were transferred between cars for on-camera use. He also noted that the driver’s side of the roof sits a bit lower than the passenger side due to the roll-over damage. Also affected was the canvas sunroof, which can’t be retracted completely without jamming.


His research also revealed that this was Herbie #6. Production photos showed this car equipped with the remote-control equipment. He was able to match the photos to the interior of this car to confirm that it was indeed car #6.


Thanks to his connections within the local auto community, he was able to locate another Herbie car and that person had the original titles of his car and another. So, in the passenger seat is the original title registered to the Walt Disney Productions at 500 S. Buena Vista, Burbank, CA


If you’d like your ride to be featured as a #carshowlife#rideoftheweek, send us your story and at least 6 photos to info@carshowlife.com.





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