Video of the Day: ‘Beam me up, Scottie’

Leonard Nimoy talks type-casting in Volkswagen commercial interview

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Max
This 1964 Volkswagen Beetle was named 'Max" and hosted TV commercials | Volkswagen of America photo

Remember “Max,” the 1964 Volkswagen Beetle that interviewed various celebrities in a series of commercials that employed a talk-show format? Those celebrities included Heidi Klum (she made Max blush), David Hasselhoff, a chair-throwing Bobby Knight and Leonard Nimoy.

The Video of the Day today — and tomorrow — features two of those “interviews.”

It was 2008 when Volkswagen of America sought a “unique spokesperson — someone who could eloquently embody the brand’s ideals, but at the same time remind us that Volkswagen is a company that knows how to have a little fun, too,” the company reported in a recent news release. 

“Though he wasn’t human, Max was unquestionably iconic, and instantly shone as a spokesperson. The lovable icon spoke English but with a polite German accent as he interviewed celebrities of the day.”

Actually, there were 5 cars involved because of the promotional appearance schedule set up for car as it appeared not only in the commercials, but at car shows and vehicle launches.

“But how could Max be in so many places at once?” VWoA asks, immediately answering its own question.

“Simple – there were five of him. In an incredibly short timeframe, prime candidates were located, purchased, identically restored, and delivered to the public stage. State of Mind Customs in Oxford, MI handled the restoration process, completing the first three Beetles in just 30 days.”

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VWoA notes that of all the Beetles, the ’64 might be “the most iconic representation of the car’s incredible 30-year long run. This model year brought myriad updates that included a metal sunroof, larger front turn signals, a larger license plate light, and four new colors: Panama Beige, Java Green, Bahama Blue, and Sea Blue. Inside the 1964 Beetle, the horn featured two buttons in lieu of the earlier car’s half ring design and basketweave vinyl seats provided some aeration compared with the solid vinyl of the previous car.”

Although it doesn’t report what happened to four of the Max cars, Max 1 resides at VWoA’s headquarters in Herndon, Virginia.

“With a few pumps of the gas pedal and a twist of the key, Max 1 springs right to life. Vent windows served as the day’s air conditioning, swiveling open easily with a push of the hand, while the side glass comes down via crank. An unexpectedly precise shifter clicks delicately into gear only at the very top of each long throw. Even before turning a wheel in motion, the feeling of being somewhere special is overwhelming. 

“When whistling down the road, the specialness is shared with the many onlookers offering waves, honks, smiles, and thumbs-ups. The sprung seats do their part in absorbing bumps and ruts in the road as much as the suspension itself does, even as they unknowingly handle the job of adding a 1960s tint to the experience. Any 1964 Beetle is an icon; this one is a celebrity.”

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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