Famous VW Beetles In Film History
As one of the most iconic cars in pop culture, the Volkswagen Beetle has appeared in various films and TV shows throughout the past half-century. Its distinct, curved top, expressive, round headlights and no-frills, compact design make the VW Beetle one of the most recognizable vehicles on the road today. From starring in The Love Bug in 1969 to running down an Adam Sandler character in Happy Gilmore to present-day appearances in Once Upon a Time, the long and storied history of the Volkswagen Beetle is chronicled in the following films and television shows.
The Love Bug (1969)
A VW race car with a mind of its own, Herbie joins the ranks of the racing world in this 1969 Disney film. After visiting an upscale dealership, Jim Douglas, a down-on-his-luck racing driver, is followed home by this 1963 anthropomorphic vehicle. Jim is reluctant to team up with Herbie at first, but eventually learns to appreciate the little machine for its driving prowess.
The Love Bug became the first in a series of Disney motion pictures, including Herbie Rides Again (1974), Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977), Herbie Goes Bananas (1980), The Love Bug (1997) and most recently, Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005). Throughout the films, Herbie appears as a white Beetle with red, white and blue racing stripes and a racing-style “53” on the trunk, engine lid and doors. With only a few left in existence, one of the original Love Bugs used by Walt Disney Productions for filming sold at auction for $126,500 in 2015.
Happy Gilmore (1996)
A 1996 comedy starring Adam Sandler, Happy Gilmore is the tale of a has-been hockey player who takes up professional golfing in an attempt to save his grandmother’s home. While on the PGA tour, Happy is faced with a new rival, Shooter McGavin. In an unfortunate, yet hilarious, series of events, Happy is run over by a crazed fan driving a 1976 Super Beetle – who then steers into a TV tower. Although this Bug only makes a minor appearance, its impact has a destructive effect on the rest of the film.
Once Upon a Time (2011 - Present)
An American television show that follows Emma Swan, a young woman with a troubled past, Once Upon a Time puts a contemporary twist on classic fairytales and folklore. Throughout the series, Emma can be seen driving a yellow VW Bug, which first makes its debut in the pilot episode. After being drawn to the small town of Storybrooke, Maine, Emma embarks on a variety of adventures – occasionally accompanied by her signature yellow Beetle.
Other Notable Appearances
While the VW Beetle may be best known for its role as Herbie, the Bug has been spotted in a myriad of films, including:
- Vertigo (1958)
- Double Trouble (1967)
- The Shining (1980)
- Footloose (1984)
- Big Lebowski (1998)
- Fight Club (1999)
- Skeleton Key (2005)