One of the NASCAR Herbies from the 2005 film Herbie: Fully Loaded. Photos courtesy Mecum Auctions.
Even those with little interest in racing can recognize the white Volkswagen Beetle with red and blue stripes, wearing the number 53 in its meatball, as “Herbie, the Love Bug.” The star of six Disney motion pictures, countless Volkswagen Beetles have been modified over the years to portray the anthropomorphic automobile, and screen-used examples tend to command impressive prices at auction. Last weekend, six cars (including five Beetles and a 1976 Lancia Scorpion) from the Herbie franchise crossed the auction block at Mecum’s Indianapolis sale, offered as individual lots in “The Love Bug Collection.”
The star of this particular show was a 1963 Beetle built as one of the NASCAR hero cars for the 2005 film, Herbie: Fully Loaded. Reportedly built by the “Special Effects Department Picture Car Department,” the movie star Volkswagen is powered by a 2.3-liter flat four engine fed by dual Weber carburetors, which, according to engine builder FAT Performance, makes 190 horsepower at the rear wheels on race gas.
It’s not clear how much screen time this particular Herbie enjoyed, though this specific car was said to have run laps at Fontana, California, in the 2004 Pop Secret 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race, making the only Volkswagen Beetle to appear in a NASCAR event. Both the Petersen Museum and the Walt Disney Company also own “NASCAR Herbie” models, as did the Volo Museum at one time, and it’s possible that even more such variants were built for filming.
The documentation provided with the car, including a title and registration in the name of “Team Douglas Productions” (an homage to the original film’s lead character, Jim Douglas, portrayed by Dean Jones), was enough to drive the selling price to $72,000, which pales in comparison to the $126,500 paid in 2015 for a 1963 Volkswagen “Herbie” Beetle said to have appeared in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo and Herbie Goes Bananas.
Giselle, the 1976 Lancia Scorpion from Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.
Other lots from The Love Bug Collection included a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle, used in filming of the 1997 television movie The Love Bug, which sold for $55,000; a 1976 Lancia Scorpion, the character “Giselle” from Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, which sold for $37,000; a 1960 Volkswagen Beetle, one of the “Demolition Derby Herbies” from Herbie: Fully Loaded, which sold for $20,000; a 1959 Volkswagen Beetle, “Junkyard Herbie” from Fully Loaded, which sold for $18,000; and a 1965 Volkswagen Beetle, “Horace the Hate Bug” from the 1997 television movie, which sold for $17,000.
This 1969 Yenko Camaro sold for $260,000.
Lot in the Indianapolis top-10 included a 1967 Shelby 427 Cobra roadster, which sold for $1,100,000; a 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra roadster, which sold for $1,000,000; a 1965 Shelby GT350 fastback, which sold for $500,000; a 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda coupe, which sold for $425,000; a 1972 Ferrari Dino GT, which sold for $310,000; a 1967 Shelby GT350 fastback, which sold for $285,000; a 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 fastback, which sold for $260,000; a 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Camaro, which sold for $260,000; a 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 fastback, which sold for $240,000; and a 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Camaro, which sold for $225,000.
This “Playmate Pink” 1966 Plymouth Barracuda sold for $4,000.
With over 1,000 cars crossing the block during the five-day sale, bargain lots were plentiful and offered something for just about everyone. A few choice finds included an unrestored 1969 Ford Galaxie 500 two-door hardtop, which sold for $6,000; a 1963 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, which sold for $5,500; a 1976 BMW 2002, which sold for $5,250; a 1966 Chevrolet C10 pickup, which sold for $5,000; a 1969 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, which sold for $5,000; a 1966 Chevrolet Corvair convertible, which sold for $5,000; a 1962 Ford Galaxie 500 club sedan, which sold for $4,500; a 1966 Plymouth Barracuda, which sold for $4,000; a 1949 Dodge Coronet, which sold for $3,250; and a 1976 Triumph TR7 coupe, which sold for $2,000.
For complete results from Indianapolis, visit Mecum.com.