Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Race car driver, Jim Douglas goes to Monte Carlo to enter his car, Herbie, in the Monte Carlo rally. When they get there, Herbie falls for another driver's car and Jim falls for the driver Diane, who thinks he's weird. But what they don't know is that a pair of thieves who stole a very valuable diamond, hid it in Herbie's gas tank. And the thieves try to get it back.

  • Herbie, the Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of its own, is racing in the Monte Carlo Rally. Unbeknownst to Herbie's driver, thieves have hidden a cache of stolen diamonds in Herbie's gas tank, and are now trying to get them back.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Herbie, the living #53 Volkswagen Beetle automobile with a human personality, arrives in Le Havre, France with Herbie's owner and driver, Jim Douglas (Dean Jones), and mechanic, Wheely Applegate (Don Knots). They drive to Paris for the Trans France Race Exposition, where Herbie is dismissed by the crowd and ridiculed by rival driver Bruno von Stickle (Eric Breaden). Wheely, however, is confident that they can win despite Herbie not having raced in 12 years.

    Meanwhile, Monsieur Ribeaux places a $6 million diamond on display at a nearby museum. It is protected by a security system, but two thieves, Max (Bernard Fox) and Quincey (Roy Kinnear), hide in the museum and contrive to steal the diamond. The museum's alarm sounds and the thieves escape into the crowd at the exposition, where Max slips the diamond into Herbie's fuel tank and plans to retrieve it later. Inspector Bouchet (Jacques Marin) and his assistant, Det. Fontenoy, interview Ribeaux and check the scene for clues.

    Later, during a qualification heat at a racetrack, Herbie acts strangely after falling in love with another car, a Lancia named Giselle. Giselle's driver, Diane Darcy (Julie Sommers), takes an instant dislike to Jim and thinks he has a bias against female race car drivers. After the qualifying runs, the cars are put on display in a building on the Avenue Champs-Élysées.

    During a presentation, Max and Quincey turn off the lights to retrieve the diamond, but Herbie, having spotted Giselle outside, slips away undetected. In front of a café, Herbie flirts with Giselle, causing a waiter to think he is seeing things. Herbie catches a glimpse of himself in a mirror and notices that he is covered in oil, so he takes a shower in a fountain, picks a bouquet of flowers for Giselle and leads her to frolic in a park and along the Seine River. Diane is incensed to discover that her car has disappeared and is not surprised to find that Herbie is involved. Diane, Jim, and Wheely find Herbie and Giselle taking a romantic cruise on the river.

    Back at their hotel, Jim and Wheely are questioned by Bouchet and Fontenoy. Outside, Max and Quincey attempt to retrieve the diamond, but Herbie eludes them. The next day at the racetrack, during the second round of qualifying, Herbie can only focus on Giselle. However, in showing off, the Volkswagen sets a course record and qualifies for the Trans France race. Giselle also wins her heat and ties Herbie's record.

    Afterward, Jim tries to explain to Diane that the cars have fallen in love, but she thinks he is crazy. Later, on the highway, Max and Quincey attempt to pull Herbie over at gunpoint, resulting in a chase through a gypsy camp. Herbie escapes, but Wheely and Jim suspect Diane and accuse her of hiring thugs to knock them out of the race. When confronted at her hotel, she reacts by hurling a vase at Jim's head. Max calls his boss, Double-X, who is actually Inspector Bouchet, to tell him that they have encountered complications and lost Herbie. However, Jim and Wheely walk into Bouchet's office during the call and ask that Herbie be protected for the night. Bouchet volunteers to personally look after Herbie, but the enthusiastic Fontenoy drives off in the car, promising to hide it where no one can find it.

    The next day, as the race from Paris to Monte Carlo, Monaco, is about to begin, Fontenoy and Herbie have still not arrived. As they wait for the start, Diane and Jim trade apologies and wish one another luck. When Giselle refuses to start because she misses Herbie, Wheely and Jim tell her that the Volkswagen is a cad and she should forget about him; when the race begins, the Lancia joins the other cars.

    Shortly after, Fontenoy arrives with Herbie, secured in an armored truck. Max and Quincey, posing as fuel attendants, wait for Herbie to fill up his tank so they can recover the diamond. However, Fontenoy filled him up earlier and Herbie is ready to belatedly join the race. To get him started, Wheely tells him that Giselle has jilted him and the little car takes off in a huff, quickly making up ground. Fontenoy senses something is wrong and suggests that Bouchet should search Herbie, but the inspector tells him they will have to wait until the end of the race. Bouchet instructs Max and Quincey to get the diamond in Monte Carlo. Fontenoy, thinking he is helping, spoils the plan by asking the officials in Monte Carlo to search Herbie upon arrival.

    Back in the race, Herbie catches Bruno von Stickle, who runs him off the road and into a pond, but Herbie battles back and causes Von Stickle to spin out. As the racers reach the Alps, Max and Quincey take a helicopter into the mountains and alter a road sign so that Herbie takes a wrong turn down a dirt road. Lost, Jim stops to consult a map and Wheely yodels for help triggering an avalanche. As they outrun the rocks, Max and Quincey await, armed with guns. Herbie squirts them with windshield wiper fluid and Wheely yodels, causing another avalanche and allowing the Volkswagen to escape to the race. Herbie makes up lost ground and catches Von Stickle, but has engine trouble and the team is forced to pull over. Wheely reaches into the fuel tank and discovers the diamond. Max and Quincey arrive by helicopter and demand he hand over the jewel. A fistfight ensues and Jim and Wheely tie up their assailants with rope.

    Back in the race, Herbie passes every car except Giselle, who has swerved off the road into a lake. Jim wants to stop, but Wheely and Herbie wish to continue until Jim confesses that Wheely lied about Giselle jilting Herbie; the Volkswagen makes a u-turn and pulls Giselle and Diane from the lake. Herbie does not want to leave Giselle, but Diane convinces him to return to the race. As the team leaves the mountains and enters Monte Carlo, Herbie catches the lead cars and passes them one by one through the winding streets. In the final tunnel, Herbie passes Von Stickle by driving upside-down on the ceiling. Herbie, Jim and Wheely cross the finish line and celebrate their victory. Bouchet arrives to congratulate them, but before Jim can hand over the diamond, Fontenoy inadvertently unravels the caper, revealing that Inspector Bouchet was the mastermind, Double-X. Bouchet pulls a gun and seizes the diamond, but Herbie apprehends him by rolling onto his foot.

    That night, Jim and Diane leave the Trans France Race gala, only to find Herbie has been "stolen" by Giselle. Jim asks a taxicab driver to take them to the most romantic spot in Monte Carlo. At the waterfront, Jim and Diane join Herbie and Giselle, along with Wheely and a female admirer, as they enjoy a fireworks show.

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