Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New Love (Bug)

This news is several weeks old, but I haven't gotten around to posting it here. We mourn the passing of an old and faithful family member, and welcome a new one.

R.I.P. "The Tick"
Back at the end of July, I had an accident in our beloved 2001 TDI New Beetle, "The Tick." I lost a tire and spun out of control at highway speed, smashing backwards into a guard rail. It was a close thing, but the car was totaled. Fortunately, I was not. Thanks to those crafty VW engineers and a side-impact airbag, I walked away with nothing but a few aches and pains from the impact.

This was a great car. The turbo-diesel motor had plenty of pep, and delivered between 40-50MPG depending on the kind of driving we were doing. The roomy interior made it one of the few cars I can comfortably get my 6' 6" frame into (yes, all those New Beetle "The Arch" commericials are true). It was smooth and fun to drive, and as a said, the crash protection was outstanding.

When we learned that the car was going to be totaled, we didn't hesitate for a moment, and started searching for another TDI New Beetle. Unfortunately, it was between model years, and with fuel prices being what they are these days, a TDI New Beetle was hard to find.

But not impossible...

Introducing, "Herbie, the New Love Bug"
I phoned around and located a TDI Beetle at a dealer about 60 miles from us, DeLon Volkswagen in Salem, OR. The car was a TDI, and had several options that had become near-necessities after "The Tick" had spoiled us with them for a while, such as the sun-roof and heated leather seats. It also had some other goodies like a 5-disk CD changer plus an in-dash single-disk MP3 player. So far, perfect. It also came equipped with the Electronic Stabilization Program, which might help save it from just the sort of thing that killed the poor Tick.

So far, so good. With cars so scarce, we didn't expect a choice of color, but I had to ask. "It's white," the salesman said, "with a black interior." There was a hesitation. "There is one thing that is unusual about the car. " More hesitation. "It has the Herbie kit."

Sure enough, the car had been created as part of the promotional tie-in with the 2005 film, Herbie, Fully Loaded. Well, you can see the picture.

Okay, if there are two people in the world wacky enough to drive around a Herbie every day, it's Chris and I. Chris says it's like being in parade with only one car in it. It is not a car you can go unnoticed in. People stop in their tracks. Kids point and make their parents watch as we drive by. People pull up next to you on the freeway and gawk. Everyone talks to you in parking lots.

It's fun, but you can't go unnoticed, and we feel compelled to maintain certain standards of behavior driving the car. No screaming or flipping people off in traffic. No cutting people off (unless the villains deserve it, of course!). You must always be considerate. It's a lot of pressure.

On the other hand, people are (usually) considerate to Herbie too. They seem to take extra care not to bump him in parking lots. They let him into bumper-to-bumper traffic. Kids always, always smile at you. It's a fair trade.

We're getting custom plates for the car. "HERBIE" was taken, unfortunately, but we're getting our second choice: "NEW LUV." The original Herbie the Love Bug was an original Beetle, so obviously this is a "New Love Bug." It's more than appropriate that Chris, a romance writer, is now the owner of a "Love Bug." It should get some attention parked outside her book signings. Hey, it's our car!

Appropriate. Ironic. Iconic. All of the above.

You know, you don't choose Herbie--

Herbie chooses you!


  1. Oh man...Chris had described it on email, but to see it! It's GORGEOUS!! Guys....this is great. I can't wait to see it in person soon!

  2. It continues to draw attention where ever it goes. Tonight we pulled into a service station, and suddenly the whole place stopped so people could stop and look and point.

    Only our third fill-up since we bought it. Over the last two tank-fulls we averaged 47mpg.