Here's Your Chance To Get The Last Unrestored Movie Herbie

Illustration for article titled Here's Your Chance To Get The Last Unrestored Movie Herbie

There's a good number of globally famous movie and TV cars — KITT, the Ghostbuster's ECTO-1, Tony Danza's hovercar/submarine from Who's The Boss — but there's one that probably has more recognition than all the others combined: Herbie the Love Bug. And now, the last unrestored movie Herbie is for sale — for over $50,000.

Advertisement

Actually, it's up to $50,000 on eBay now, and the reserve still isn't met — so who knows what this may end up going for. There's only four unrestored movie Herbies left, and this one seems to be the last one available for purchase.

Illustration for article titled Here's Your Chance To Get The Last Unrestored Movie Herbie

This Herbie was originally built for the second Herbie movie in 1972, but was used most extensively in the 1977 film Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo. This particular 1963 Beetle was labeled "CAR NO. 3" and was one of the 'blind-drive cars' — that means this one could be driven with a hidden driver, giving the illusion that the car was driving itself.

Illustration for article titled Here's Your Chance To Get The Last Unrestored Movie Herbie

The hidden driver rig is amazing both for the clever simplicity of it and the relative crudeness of its execution. Essentially, it consists of a rudimentary seat being built in the rear footwell of the gutted interior, and shop-made extensions for the pedals and steering column. The gearshift was relocated to right in front of the transmission, which I bet made the shifter feel much better, since about 90% of the length of the control shafts have been removed.

All the modifications have the competent but unrefined look of studio mechanics looking to get something done quickly and within a budget. Clearly, they worked well, though exactly how the driver was supposed to see isn't clear. There's a cutout in the front left wheel well where maybe the driver could see?

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Here's Your Chance To Get The Last Unrestored Movie Herbie

In the Monte Carlo movie, Herbie was sporting a single foglight that I've heard housed a camera for a hidden driver. It's possible the driver crammed down there may have had a small TV monitor to use for driving the car, as well.

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Here's Your Chance To Get The Last Unrestored Movie Herbie

This particular Herbie is also notable because it was known as the 'funky decklid Herbie' because it, well, had a funky decklid, or engine cover. The decklid appears to have been cobbled together out of a '68 upper three-quarters with a '63 or '64 lower quarter, with a '63 license plate light stuck on (a little bit too high). It's not clear why this was done, since proper decklids shouldn't have been hard to source, though some say it's from a revolving license plate gag that was cut.

Advertisement

The most incredible thing about this car is the remarkably original condition it's in. It was lost for years, turning up eventually in a Florida warehouse, and managed to avoid retrofitting into a 'proper' Herbie show car or any restoration in all that time.

Illustration for article titled Here's Your Chance To Get The Last Unrestored Movie Herbie
Advertisement

This Herbie is also the one used to set its tire prints in concrete in front of Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, so that's a big deal, too.

I hope that whoever ends up buying this bit of cinematic history respects it enough to preserve it as is — the world doesn't need another pristine Herbie clone, and a working blind-driver movie car like this, even in its rough interior condition, is a far more interesting artifact.

Advertisement

Plus, with modern cheap electronics, you could hide a camera on the front and run it to a nice big LCD down there in the back and have some real fun in this, making what appears to be a driverless autocross car or something.

(Thanks, Tony!)

DISCUSSION

unknownuknow
Tinfoil Hat in a thunderstorm, now with added diecast

This is cool, I agree this shouldn't be restored. Best as is with sympathetic repairs only to keep it from decaying.

Confessions from my youth; I once had a 1956 beetle (around 1989-90) and was on a long drive to watch a formula V race, the friend I took as a passenger found that he could operate the throttle from his footwell as a cover was missing that would not normally allow access. So after an hour or so of driving on a four lane highway he starts slowly increasing the throttle occasionally without my knowledge! I'm starting to wonder what's going on until he can no longer contain himself and starts laughing like a crazy man and let's me in on the game, bloody mongrel! I don't remember which of us came up with this next bit of stupidity but it was agreed that I would climb over in to the backseat(travelling at 100 kph!!) while he works the throttle and steers from his side with his hand at the bottom of the wheel, we go ahead with this plan and just sit looking ahead as if all was normal as cars pass us. The traffic wasn't heavy and we continued this for a few minutes only deciding to knock it off when an F100 goes past and the driver actually ran off the edge of the road while looking out his rear window at us!! He got back on the road luckily without harm but I climbed back in front and resumed control. I don't know how we managed to not die. Fun but crazy stupid.