One of the most under-appreciated movie cars of all time just sold at an auction this week for $86,250. No, it’s not any one of the iconic movie Mustangs that we’ve drooled over in the past. It’s not even a Transformers car. It’s a Volkswagen Beetle, or to be more specific, it’s Herbie, the Love Bug.

The iconic movie car went under hammer at the Treasures from the Dream Factory auction, held by Bonhams and Turner Classic Movies in New York. The total might not make your eyes pop out ala Herbie, but at the price that it sold, it immediately became the most expensive Volkswagen Beetle ever sold in an auction setting. According to Sports Car Market, the $86,250 paid for Herbie barely edged out a 1955 Beetle Cabrio that sold at Amelia Island in 2014. That model, considered in mint condition, sold for $82,500.

As far as Herbie is concerned, the model that sold in New York is the actual car that was used in the second and third movies of the Disney franchise, hence its unique status of being the actual movie car, and not a replica. It carries the iconic livery, complete with the red, white, and blue racing stripes and the “53” decals on the hood and doors of the car. It even has the original set of gears and pulleys that were put in place to allow a stunt driver to drive the car from the rear seat, making it look like the car was autonomously being driven.

The identity of the winning bidder wasn’t disclosed, but rest assured, whoever walked out of the auction as the new owner of Herbie had himself a pretty early holiday treat.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

Original Herbie Sells For $86,250 At New York Auction
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With all due respect to all other iconic movie cars, Herbie the Love Bug holds a special place in my heart. I grew up watching the first four movies - The Love Bug, Herbie Rides Again, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, Herbie Goes Bananas - of the franchise and I remember crying my eyes out because my father’s Toyota Corona couldn’t do the things that Herbie did in the movies.

Don’t worry, I’ve seen learned the difference between a real car and a movie car, so I’ve long been at peace knowing that an anthropomorphic Beetle doesn’t exist in this world. That said, I still remember Herbie fondly after all these years and on one hand, I couldn’t be happier knowing that somebody cared just as much for the car to pay $86,250 for it.

On the other hand, I’m a little bummed that I couldn’t buy Herbie for myself. But that’s neither here nor there. What’s important is that Herbie’s going to a owner who will take far more of the car than the previous owner who saw fit to leave it in a warehouse in Florida for so many years until it was discovered a few years ago.

Take it from somebody who grew up loving the movie franchise. $86,250 may be too much for a Volkswagen Beetle, but this isn’t an ordinary Beetle. Far from it. It’s Herbie the Love Bug and rest assured, if I had the money, it would probably have been sold for more at that auction.

Volkswagen Beetle

1956 Volkswagen Type 1 Beetle Exterior AutoShow
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Read our full review on the Volkswagen Beetle here.

Press Release

Herbie and co-star Giselle from 1977’s Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo will be offered at auction in Treasures from the Dream Factory, presented by Bonhams and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Introduced in The Love Bug (1968), Herbie is a white 1963 Volkswagen Beetle who follows race car driver Jim Douglas (Dean Jones) home from the showroom. That film was such a success that Disney subsequently made five more movies and two television shows about the anthropomorphic car. In all, the Herbie films grossed more than $200 million at the box office in their initial domestic release, or $725 million in today’s currency.

The Herbie for sale at Bonhams New York on Nov. 23, was discovered in a warehouse in Florida several years ago and remains in largely unrestored condition. Originally built for Herbie Rides Again (1974) and also used in Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, it is one of the ingenious "Invisible Driver" Herbies. Modified with an elaborate system of sprockets and pulleys connected to a second steering column under the front seat, the driver sits in the backseat to give the impression that the car is driving itself. This car also has the distinction of being the only vehicle ever to leave its tire print in the cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, during promotion for Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.

Herbie is joined by his love interest from the film, a powder blue Lancia Scorpion named Giselle. In the film, Giselle is Herbie’s competitor in the Trans-France Race, driven by Diane Darcy (Julie Sommars). Herbie quickly became enamored of this shapely sports car, presenting her with a bouquet of flowers held in his back bumper. Three Scorpions were used in filming, with the other two believed to have been subsequently crashed and scrapped. This car was auctioned off in 1980, repainted and for a time used as a daily driver before being discovered by its present owner who recognized its bolt-on roll bar and several other movie modifications. The car was then entrusted to Disney movie car expert Dan Miller at Red Barn Restorations in northeast Ohio who restored to its screen-used appearance. Both cars are accompanied by their original Walt Disney Productions titles.

Other automotive highlights in the auction include Steve McQueen’s iconic racing suit from Le Mans ($200,000-300,000) as well as co-star Michele Scalera’s racing suit ($5,000-7,000). Both lots were gifted to an Italian gentleman by Titanus, the film’s distributor in that country, and have been in his collection ever since.

Treasures from the Dream Factory is the third in a series of movie memorabilia auctions as part of a multi-year partnership between Bonhams and TCM. Past sales have resulted in high-profile sales, such as the Maltese Falcon at $4.2 million, a record price for a movie prop; the sale of Sam’s piano from Rick’s Café in Casablanca for $3.4 million, a record price for a piano; and Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion costume from The Wizard of Oz at $3 million, a record price for a costume from that film.

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