Chris Ball spent $20,000 restoring his 1963 Volkswagen Beetle into a Herbie the Love Bug. (ABC Gold Coast: Tim Wong-See)
Chris Ball has adored the Disney character, Herbie the Love Bug, since he was three years old and now the Gold Coast man has lovingly restored a Volkswagen Beetle into a replica Herbie.
Mr Ball saw the classic 1968 film as a child and has had a fondness for the car ever since.
“My aunt put the movie on at a family reunion to try and keep me quiet,” Mr Ball said.
“I don’t think she realised quite how big an effect it would have [on me] in the long run.”
The movie centred around an anthropomorphic Volkswagen Beetle named Herbie, which was a racing car with a mind of its own made.
Herbie made such an impression on Mr Ball that he bought his own Beetle six year ago with the intention of creating a replica Herbie.
Chris Ball meticulously restored his Volkswagen into a replica Herbie. (ABC Gold Coast: Tim Wong-See)
Getting the Love Bug treatment
When Mr Ball purchased his Beetle, some of the restoration work was already under way.
“The previous owner had done the body work on it and painted it,” he said.
“Everything else — the interior, the engine and some of the chrome work — needed a freshen up.
“I pulled up the carpet under the driver’s seat. I was very close to pulling a Fred Flintstone — there wasn’t much floor there.”
The Disney film made such an impression on Chris that he replicated his Beetle into Herbie, even down to the radio. (ABC Gold Coast: Tim Wong-See)
Mr Ball said the transformation of his Beetle into a Love Bug cost $20,000, and has been meticulous in every detail even down to the radio.
“The first part of the car I got is the original factory radio that Herbie had in most of the movies,” he said.
“It was not the easiest to track down and I actually hadn’t bought the car yet when I found the radio online.
“I thought, ‘I am probably not going to see another one anytime soon,’ so I snapped it up.”
Herbie honoured at car show
Mr Ball’s remodel has turned out so well that his car has been chosen as the centrepiece at the RACQ MotorFest at Brisbane’s Eagle Farm Racecourse, which this year is celebrating 80 years of the iconic Volkswagen Beetle.
“Everywhere I go, even if I am just dropping down [to] the shops, I go in and I come out and there is a crowd around the car asking if they can get photos with it,” Mr Ball said.
“That is probably the best part of owning the car … seeing how much joy it brings to everyone else.”
Chris’s mum, Ellen Ball, said her son had always been obsessed with Herbie.
“He always had the dream that he wanted to have a Volkswagen and do it up as Herbie,” Mrs Ball said.
“He just loves the story behind Herbie. He is really passionate about it.”
Mr Ball’s replica Herbie will be the centrepiece at the RACQ MotorFest in Brisbane on Sunday July 15. (ABC Gold Coast: Tim Wong-See)