A race car driver becomes a champion with a Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of its own.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Barry Kelley ...
Police Sgt.
Andy Granatelli ...
Association President
Gil Lamb ...
Policeman at Park
Nicole Jaffe ...
Girl In Dune-buggy
Wally Boag ...
Flabbergasted Driver


Meet Jim Douglas, a down-on-his-luck race car driver who lives in an old run-down fire house in San Francisco with his friend Tennessee Steinmetz, a occasional drunk mechanic. One day, Jim went to a luxury car dealer and surprisingly seen a strange Volkswagon Beetle with a unusual problem, it tends to drive on it's own almost having its own mind. Then this car drove all the way to Jim's home. Believing that the owner of the car dealership Peter Thorndyke, planted the car on him. Then, Jim wanted to try out the car for himself, then, he experienced the nature of the car for himself. Then, Jim fixed it and now is in more control. Tennessee dubbed the car "Herbie". Then, Jim used Heribe for races. Jim then, was rising to fame and becoming more successful in racing, Then, Thorndyke wants Herbie back, but Jim refuses and Thorndyke wanted to compete against Jim in the races, then Thorndyke sabotaged Herbie before a race so, he can win. then, a big race known as the "El Dorado" was coming up... Written by John Wiggins

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's a Love-in for Herbie... the incredible little car who shifts for himself! See more »


Comedy | Family | Sport


G | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

13 March 1969 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Car-Boy-Girl  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
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Did You Know?


Dean Jones personally requested to play the hippy at the drive-in. The director originally turned him down, but after Jones proved that he could convincingly take on the persona, he was immediately given the part. See more »


The Volkswagen was not being pulled behind the cable car. It was actually driven from the back seat by a man whose head can be briefly seen in the right rear side of the car. See more »


[first lines]
Jim Douglas: I'd like another shot at that prize money. Okay for next Sunday?
Bice: No, Jim, it ain't okay.
Jim Douglas: Now, look, Bice, I know...
Bice: No, *you* look. All my drivers are eighteen, nineteen... You're too old for these kid sports. You're liable to get hurt in there.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the end credits, the words "The End" turn into an animated bug which drives away from the screen. See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Magic Sword (1992) See more »


Die Fledermaus
Written by Johann Strauss
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User Reviews

Herbie, the little VW with a mind of its own
22 December 2004 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

This is a true Disney Classic, in fact Walt Disney had a hand in developing the story but, sad to say, never lived to see it hit the big screen. In the film, we learn rather quickly that race car driver Jim Douglas(Dean Jones) has hit rock bottom after being a prominent race car driver(what caused his demise? it's not explained but it appears that he got into quite a few bang ups). He lives with a Buddhist named Tennessee Steinmetz(Buddy Hackett)who finds a soul in everything.

Jim soon looks for a new car and comes across a fancy dealership, only to be embarrassed by the owner Peter Thorndyke(David Tomlinson) who refuses Jim's $80 offer for a gorgeous race car. While in the showroom, a VW rolls in that was supposed to be scrapped. As Thorndyke berates the little car, Jim sticks up for it and soon the car thinks it has a friend and follows Jim home. To avoid being blamed for stealing the car, Jim agrees to buy it from Thorndyke but the car acts up. Jim is about to return it when he's caught in a drag race because someone makes fun of the VW. Herbie blows the competition away and Jim falls in love with the car's speed, but Tennessee knows it has heart and names it Herbie.

Soon Jim, Herbie and Tennessee are winning races and Jim's ego inflates while Thorndyke's temper grows since he too races and loses every time to Herbie. Thorndyke decides to sabotage the little car and when he succeeds, Jim turns his back on Herbie. Once Jim realizes HE hasn't being winning the races he tries to find Herbie who has since run off. Herbie gets impounded after an accident and Jim must sell him to a Chinese man who agrees to let Jim drive Herbie in a big race. If Jim wins, he gets to buy Herbie back for a buck. Needless to say, Thorndyke once again sabotages Herbie,but hey, this is Disney. Who do YOU think wins out at the end?

I had to give this movie a 10 because it has so much going for it. Comedy, some drama, romance. We know very little about Jim Douglas except when Tennessee describes him as down on his luck, angry, and one who was prone to getting into trouble. Jones did an excellent job as the cocky, angry, egotistical driver who is knocked down a few pegs by his friends and a little car. The character mirrored Jones back then, who admits in his biography that he was a dirt bike racing nut prone to losing his temper quite a bit and having an affinity for women other than his wife. Michelle Lee is grand but we don't see much of her and Hackett plays the sincere bit amazingly well especially when he tells Jim that he was nothing without Herbie. For comedic relief David Tomlinson was terrific as was his assistant Havershaw(Joe Flynn of McHale's Navy fame).

Yes there are some over the top, goofy and somewhat embarrassing sight gags and a few interesting moments(i.e. Carol thinking Jim has ulterior motives when Herbie brings them to a make-out point, i.e. when Herbie tries to kill itself, and when Jim finally admits to Carol that he's just a bum), but the film has heart, like Herbie. The film had three more sequels, a five part TV miniseries, a re-make in 1998(or so) and there's a new film coming out. Jones only did Love Bug, Monte Carlo(film 3), the miniseries and made a pathetic appearance in the 1998 film. In each one, Jones was still down on his luck but nothing like the sad figure he portrayed in Love Bug. Great classic film, filled with 60's nostalgia.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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