Car movie of the day: ‘Love Bug’

Blame this film for all the Beetles bearing No. 53

Editor’s note: Car guys, and even car girls, can take only so much of those Hallmark holiday movies that fill the airwaves and cable systems this time of year. As an automotive alternative, we’re offering our own suggestions of our favorite car movies for your viewing pleasure. Check out more of our favorite car movies here.


Most car movies tend to glorify big, burly muscular examples or imported racers that make all sorts of noise. Not the 1968 film Love Bug, which used the classic Volkswagen Beetle as its hero car.

The Disney film has a pretty simple plot: Jim Douglas, a down-on-his-luck race car driver, sees a pretty woman, Carole Bennett, inside an upscale car dealership. He walks in and stops the sales manager from abusing a white Volkswagen Beetle.

Why 53 for Herbie the Love Bug? It turns out producer Bill Walsh was a fan of Los Angeles Dodgers player Don Drysdale, who wore the same number. | Walt Disney Productions

Why 53 for Herbie the Love Bug? It turns out producer Bill Walsh was a fan of Los Angeles Dodgers player Don Drysdale, who wore the same number. | Walt Disney Productions

Magically, the car follows him home. It’s then Douglas’ friend Tennessee Steinmetz (best name ever) gives the Beetle the iconic nickname, “Herbie.”

Herbie leads Douglas to racing success all over California but, of course, the bad guy comes into play. The manager who was originally mean to the car attempts to win it back on a few occasions, even by cheating.

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It’s no spoiler that, at the end, Herbie carries Douglas and company on to a narrow victory, thus defeating the evil car-hitting manager.

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