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Herbie the Love Bug sold at auction for record $86k

Autoblog logo Autoblog 2015-11-26 Noah Joseph
© Provided by Autoblog

It might seem like a lot to pay for a 1963 VW Beetle, but this particular example sold for at auction this week for the impressive sum of $86,250. That's because this is no ordinary Volkswagen. This is the original Herbie.

The example you see here is the very one that was used in the filming of Herbie Rides Again and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo – the second and third installments, respectively, in the timeless Disney film franchise. That makes this one of the most instantly recognizable cars ever made. In fact, it is the only car ever invited to leave its tire print in the cement at the landmark Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

Aside from its iconic livery, the vehicle was also modified for an actual, literal back-seat driver. The setup is composed of a series of gears and pulleys to allow a stunt driver to sit out of view in the rear seat, making it look as if the car were driving itself. The car was lost for decades before being rediscovered in a warehouse in Florida a few years ago, and now it's been sold.

The star car was offered this week as part of the Treasures from the Dream Factory auction, held by Bonhams and Turner Classic Movies in New York. The winning bid, according to the records at Sports Car Market, makes this the most valuable Beetle ever sold at auction, narrowly beating the $82,500 paid for a flawless '55 cabrio at Amelia Island in 2014. This very same Herbie (verified by its chassis number) sold less than a year ago on eBay for $55,200 – which makes this a rather profitable turnaround for the consigner.

Most of the other lots in the movie memorabilia auction would be of little interest to automotive enthusiasts. However, the event also saw the racing suit that Steve McQueen wore in the filming of Le Mans sell for $425,000 – far exceeding the $200,000-300,000 it was expected to fetch ahead of the sale. The top lot of the day, however, was the blue gingham plaid dress worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, which sold for $1.56 million - a little more than half the price paid previously for the lion costume from the same film.

Related: Making art from cars

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