1968 Herbie Replica

Jack Connelly

I have been into cars all my life. As my son Jack was growing up he first liked mustangs then 55 chevies especially the one that I restored that I started on when he was about 1 through age 4. We went to Disney around that time and Jack really liked the whole Herbie the love bug car and story. Came back, sold the 55. Kept my prostreet 750 HP 1939 Studebaker. Bought a new 13 mustang Gt. Year later traded with cash for a 08 Shelby gt500. At that point jacks interest in Volkswagens continued to develop. He started having my wife Suzanne and I start to bring him to the local VW of cny car show. After going to the VW shows for a couple of years. I started to realize how the VW life style was so different than other car community's in a very good way. It was like one big family. We got to meet some great people including Dan Stevens president of the local VW club.

I started last year thinking to myself how am I going to talk my wife Suzanne into allowing my then 11 year old son Jack purchase a VW beetle when he turns 14. Fast forward to June 17th 2018. At the prison city ramblers car show on Otisco lake Ny.

While showing our Shelby gt500 my wife told me to get over to the car corral. I was shocked to see a 1968 beetle for sale. My wife thought it was the perfect car for Jack. I soon found myself explaining to Suzanne how much work this little car would need. Soon a deal was struck with the Po.

Got the car home and talked it over with jack. Two choices get the car running right and fix the leaking brakes, worn front suspension and electrical issues or do a full resto that would take a couple years. I was happy that jack chose to get his car safely derivable. Replaced master cylinder did a tune up put the car on the road broke down twice in one day. One thing we noticed is that the car always seemed to beep its horn slightly when people where around. Jack said its gotta be Herbie in there.

We decided that we had less than thirty days to turn his car into a Herbie replica. Body work, paint, new decals, stripes. Redid the fuel system setup. Full tune up. Spent many hours correcting the electrical system. New "early" style bumpers from JBugs and early style ss side molding where installed. Local channel 9 news reporter Olivia Ugino came over to the shop and interviewed jack for a couple of hours. See YouTube video. News clip was run several times before the Syracuse nationals show, which said that you could see jack and Herbie atvghe nationals. We made it and everyone loved jacks story and of course the beetle. I clearly saw that jack really loved VW's and really did not enjoy my other show/ race cars.

So I contacted the family dealership of hubers auto group in ephrata pa. Great people. I had traded my 13 Gt to them couple years prior for the 08 gt500 I had. I asked hubers auto to keep an eye out for an older beetle and told them I may be selling there old Shelby gt500 in the future. Eric Huber told me that his father Earl had an all original 20,000 mile 60 beetle. original except for paint and chrome wheels. He said his father, who is an expert VW Audi mechanic had owned it for 36 years but would never sell it. I asked if I could see the cars pics anyhow . The car was really nice looking. I continued looking for a bug in the northeast. Found some really nice bugs but they just where not like Earls bug from Hubers. Then Eric called and said his father had seen the video of jacks story on his Herbie bug and Earl liked the fact that we where both working on jacks beetle together. Eric said that his father would consider selling his 60 beetle to me since he felt that his car was going to a good home.

Before I knew it August of last year a deal was struck for the trade of the 700hp Shelby for the 36 HP beetle and jack and I made the several hour trip south to Ephrata pa. I reached out to the VW museum in Stuttgart Germany and I was happy to receive "Earls" birth certificate showing that it was indeed the original 36 HP engine. Yes we ended up calling the 60 beetle Earl after the previous owner. We thought it was fitting. Jack and I have lowered earl with drop spindles and narrower wheels and tires in the front from JBugs. 135/15 and wider 205/65/15 rear. We checked over the og steering, tie rods still in great shape along with king pins link pins that where still in great shape. Replaced some of the og interior but kept the original in case we ever want to put it back. Replaced some transmission mounts fixed the choke cable etc.

My original plan was to put a 1915 cc or bigger motor in but we have been enjoying the 36hp engine. As Earl Huber told me its more fun sometimes to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow and he is right. Future plans are mainly to maintain Earl and update as necessary. With jacks 68 Herbie over the winter we added empi front disc brakes, bearings all new ball joints all new tie rod ends etc. . Brake hoses etc. We then replaced the 68 style taillights with the 62-67 style. Future plans rebuild engine, low boost turbo setup, replace fenders and front headlights with early style.

Main thing Jack has taught me is that its more fun to get the cars out to events and talk to other owners about their cars than constantly working on the cars. The VW community is awesome to be a part of.

-Mike Connelly