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Herbie and Friends Tour Blog – Updated May 29, 2005

As 2005 marks the 50th anniversary of Volkswagen of America’s incorporation, Volkswagen will be launching a special commemoration of this milestone. In fact, Volkswagen will be teaming up with two other special “50 year olds” for an epic road trip across the United States and beyond.

The Karmann Ghia is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its introduction, and Disney® is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World® in Florida. On June 24, Disney will release its latest movie, which will star the most-loved Volkswagen of all, Herbie in Herbie: Fully Loaded.

The national tour, titled Herbie & Friends Cruise Across America, will begin on the historic Santa Monica Pier with a publicity event and travel across the country from California to Virginia with numerous stops along the way. Professional freelance photographer and 2001 1.8T GTI driver Tony Byrd will provide periodic photo and journal updates on VWvortex.com to mark the tour’s progress.

The official portion of the tour will conclude in Virginia on May 29, where several of the vintage Karmann Ghias from the tour will board a freighter bound for Europe. From port, the vehicles will travel throughout Europe to visit their original home at the Karmann Factory in Osnabruck. Many of the cars that remain in the United States will continue on to Florida and then back to California.

Herbie & Friends Cruise Across America is scheduled to spread fun and festivities all across the United States, stopping at a number of Volkswagen dealerships, car shows, tourist traps and rest areas along the way.

May 13 – 4:00pm – Barber Volkswagen—Ventura, CA

May 14 – 5:00pm – Volkswagen of Santa Monica—Santa Monica, CA

May 17 – 10:30am – University Volkswagen—Albuquerque, NM

May 18 – 12:40pm – Cable Volkswagen—Oklahoma, OK

May 18 – 5:15pm – Brad Noe Autoplex—Tulsa, OK

May 19 – 11:15am – Youngblood Volkswagen—Springfield, MO

May 19 – 5:00pm – Auffenberg Volkswagen—O’Fallon, IL

May 20 – 6:00pm – Team Volkswagen—Merrillville, IN

May 23 – 9:00am – Volkswagen of America, Inc.—Auburn Hills, MI

May 23 – 4:00pm – Ed Schmidt Volkswagen—Perrysburg, OH

May 24 – 7:00pm – Bilco Motors Inc.—Wexford, PA

May 25 – 11:40am – Sharrett Volkswagen—Hagerstown, MD

May 25 – 5:45pm – King Volkswagen—Gaithersburg, MD

May 26 – 11:00am – H.A. Boyd Inc.—Lebanon, PA

May 27 – 12:00pm – Y B H Sales & Service, Inc.—Edgemont, PA

May 28 – 6:30pm – Brown’s Manassas Volkswagen—Manassas, VA

The lastest tour updates appear below with the most recent at the top. Check back often for the latest stories and photo galleries…

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May 29, 2005 – Bug Out Manassas, VA

Sunday was the Bug Out car show and swap meet in Manassas. Hundreds of cars, parts and people on this beautiful Sunday event. Drag racing added to the excitement of the day. What a great way to wrap up to Volkswagen’s sponsorship of the Herbie and Friends tour too! Thanks to everyone who participated, help out and to all of the great friends we made along the way.

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May 28, 2005 – Washington, DC and Brown’s VW in Manassas, VA

Around 10 o’clock we left MD and headed south to Virginia, driving through the nation’s capitol on Memorial Day weekend. A lot of people, cars and motorcycles out, seeing the sites. We ended up at Brown’s VW in Manassas, VA for the last stop on our tour. Big thanks to everyone at Brown’s VW for their help and support on the tour.

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May 27, 2005 – Baltimore area

Nearing the end of our tour (well, for some of us anyway) a few of the drivers had to prepare for their overseas journey. Two of our Ghia drivers are shipping their cars to Germany and continue on through to celebrate the anniversary of the Karmann Ghia. I accompanied them to the Port of Baltimore so they could drop off the cars. Later, we rendezvoused with the rest of the group at Antwerpen VW in Baltimore. Being Friday and the start of the Memorial Day weekend there were tons of people, television and radio promotion. A few new east coast drivers joined the pack too!

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May 26, 2005 – Gettysburg, PA to Lebanon, PA to Seaside Park, NJ

We had a bit of “free” time this morning so the VWs decided to check out some more of the regional attractions. Heading south we ventured to Gettysburg and the site of the famous Civil War battlefield. The weather was beautiful and the driving conditions were great. Next we headed back up to north to Lebanon, PA and the Volkswagen dealership of H.A. Boyd. A local school stopped by and the children were so excited about seeing and hearing Herbie as he roared out of the trailer and around the parking lot. Many got their photos taken as well as some souvenirs from VW and Disney. Another first class lunch from the folks at the dealership and then off to Seaside, NJ so we could officially say we had driven coast to coast!!!!!

May 25, 2005 – Harpers Fairy to Gaithersburg, MD

Another early morning today as we left Pittsburg after a quick stop by one of the local television stations for a quick interview with Herbie. Herbie even got to met Ian from TV’s Survivor. Back on the road we had about an hour to drive southeast to Hagerstown, MD and Sharret VW. The sky was a bit gray just like the last few days and sprinkled on and off a bit as people stopped by the dealership to check out the cars. A group of the vintage drivers decided to check out Antietam and Harpers Fairy since we were in the area. Our routes took us through some of the best country roads and most scenic vistas we have encountered on the trip so far. Making our way back east we had our final stop of the day at King VW in Gaithersburg, MD. We enjoyed some great barbecue and sunshine (finally) as the kids got a chance to check out Herbie.

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May 24, 2005 – Akron, OH to Wexford, PA

Tuesday found us leaving our hotel rather early as we had a lot of ground to cover. We began by dropping by Goodyear in Akron, OH. A few photos and a demonstration of a VW’s potential then we said goodbye and headed just down the street to a minor league baseball game and share some VW love with about 6,000 local fans. It turns out Goodyear sponsored a free day at the ballpark for many of the areas school children who where excited to see the love bug in person. Afterwords, we dodged the steadily falling rain south-east to Wexford, PA and to Billco Motors for some more adventure ,only the way a VW can.

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May 23, 2005 – VWoA, Karmann USA, Ed Schmidt VW

This was to be a very exciting day for all of the participants on the tour. Today we got to show off the vintage VWs to the employees of Volkswagen of America, in Auburn Hills, MI. They, in turn, provided us with breakfast, a tour of the corporate museum and a souvenir book of Volkswagens history. Afterward, we traveled to Karmann USA which recently located to a new facility in Plymouth, MI. The folks at Karmann had a lunch planned for us as well as a brief tour of their factory. Finally, they allowed the vintage owners to drive their VWs through a section of the Karmann facility as if it were to commemorate the last “production run” of Ghias in a Karmann plant….. everyone had a blast! We ended up our day in Maumee, OH at Ed Schmidt VW where we had dinner and a chance to show off the cars one more time.

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May 22, 2005 – Ypsilanti, MI – MVVC 18th Annual Vintage Festival

So, the night before, a group of drivers from the Herbie tour were invited to a dinner and speaking engagement hosted by the MVVC. At the end of the evening Volkswagen of North America unveiled the newly designed New Beetle for the first time in a pubic setting. The vehicle has many refinements but most notable are some aesthetic improvements to the fenders, lights and instruments.

Sunday was the MVVC Vintage Festival in Ypsilanti, MI. This was by far the single largest gathering of automobile and enthusiasts we had attended yet. Hundreds of vehicles (and some amazing examples, at that). To celebrate Disney’s new Herbie movie and the anniversary of Karmann Ghia, the festival organizers arranged to have people park their vintage rides in the shape of a circle with “53″ in the center and another with “50″, then having ariel photographs taken to commemorate the event. Unfortunately by mid day the clouds darkened and the rain began to fall causing many to pack up and leave. The hardcore fans stuck it out though, moving the activities under the main tent where the atmosphere was more intimate and personal. Great conversations ensued as the rain pattered outside………

May 21, 2005 – Merrillville, IN to Grand Rapids, MI

Leaving Merriville, IN around 8:30 am we needed to be in Grand Rapids , MI by 12:30 pm. Mild temperatures and fair sky’s ensured our trip was to be very enjoyable. Arriving in Grand Rapids we encountered a slight detour, which added a bit of time to our journey (apparently the President was in town so the local authorities closed some roads). When we finally made it to the auto show we were greeted by hundreds of enthusiastic auto fans. The show was huge, partly because the show was open to all sorts of makes and models of automobiles. This time we were in the company of the Buses by the Beach group who had taken over a corner of the parking lot and set up camp, so to speak. Seeing 50+ buses with the tops up was really impressive. The busers also treated us to a box lunch and great company. After a couple hours, we had to pack up and move it to Ypsilanti, MI and prepare for another show on Sunday. Later that evening, several Karmann Ghia and other V Dub folks were invited to the annual MVVC Banquet (Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Club) in Ypsilanti, MI. The guests were treated to a wonderful dinner and and a rather inspiring talk by Volkswagen Vice President Len Hunt and Karmann USA COO Tim Olind. The group was also shown a special surprise…….. check the next up date to find out what it was!

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May 20, 2005 – Southern IL. to Merrillville, IN

Driving from southern IL. we found clouds looming overhead for the first time during our journey. Certain to make the best of the day, we pressed north trying to find a route less traveled. This led us to Collum, IL., a very small town in the center of the state. Driving through, one of our lead drivers spotted a quirky, old service station to the side of the road. No longer in operation, it serves only as residence for a gracious couple that welcomed our stop for photographs. After, we pushed on to the northeast, still winding through the secondary roads which can so often be overlooked today. By 6pm, we had made our way up to Merriville, IN and to the dealership of Team VW. The sun had broken out by now giving us an incredible setting for a Friday evening car show among new friends.

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May 19, 2005 – Springfield, MO to O’Fallen, IN

Our Springfield stop was greeted by dozens of enthusiastic VW fans, many of which had brought their own cars out to show. Of course the kids where crazy to see Herbie in all of his 53 racing glory. We later made our way across Missouri under sunny skies and with great company. Although we did encounter some rather heavy traffic in St. Louis it didn’t stop us from reaching Auffenberg VW in O’ Fallen, IN.

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May 18, 2005 – Amarillo, TX to Tulsa, OK

Today was packed full of travel and stops so we got up early and on the road. Out of Amarillo by 7:00am and west on Hwy 44. About 9 vehicles with us now but more to surely join us along the way. The first stop was at Cable VW in Oklahoma City, OK. Tons of folks showed up with a variety of classic VWs too. Thanks to the great people at Cable for quickly checking out an ailing starter motor in one of our Ghias!!!!! Back on the road we made our way down old route 66 to the town of Stroud and the Rock Cafe, home of the best peach cobbler ever! Herbie made an appearance and the kids loved it! We had to hustle out of town again to make Tulsa by 5:30pm and see the folks at Brad Noe Autoplex. Man, what a show they put on…….. more to come!

May 18, 2005 – Albuquerque, NM to Amarillo, TX

Traveling across New Mexico was quite an experience for sure. Some amazing landscape as we climbed thousands of feet in elevation. From the scrub brush on the desert floor to the painted mesas that lined the horizon. University VW was our first stop for the day. Some great VW owners from the Phoenix area that joined us in Oatman continued with us to make a grand entrance in Albuquerque. With all of that desert driving we had been doing, most of the cars needed a little TLC, so out came the rags and cleaning products. The great folks at University even obliged us by opening up one of their service bays for some much needed maintenance. By early afternoon we hit the road for Amarillo, TX

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May 16, 2005 – Barstow/Oatman

Today we all actually got some real seat time. We headed out of Santa Monica a little after 9 am to the east of LA. Another beautiful SoCal day as we set sights for Barstow, CA for some lunch. Moving on, we ended up in Oatman, AZ. This old mining town is known for its burros which some of us had the pleasure of meeting up close. If you ever get the chance, go to Oatman, a great place to grab a cold drink!

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May 14, 2005 – Santa Monica, Volkswagen

After the Treffen rally in Ventura we headed down to Santa Monica VW. Traffic was a bit heavy in southern Cali today but when you have great weather and a day off, everyone wants to go out and play! No worries though, what better way to do it than in a rag top Ghia, huh! I’ve been fortunate enough to get to drive a W12 Phaeton so I like being “stuck” in the car. Some VERY clean cars showed up in SM this afternoon. I’m really starting to get a feel for this crowd. Tomorrow we head out of SoCal to the desert…… Thanks for the burgers Santa Monica VW!

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May 14, 2005 – KPG&R Treffen

Saturday Morning the group met at Karmann Ghia Parts and Restoration owed by cruise organizer Scott Dempster. Many Ghia owners rely on Scott’s knowledge when it comes to getting their autos outfitted with the right parts. A great group of Karmann Ghias showed up this year as well as a couple of Herbie replicas. Snacks and drinks were on hand for everyone that made it to the 2005 Treffen event……… next stop this evening, Santa Monica VW.

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May 13, 2005 – Barber VW Ventura, CA

Friday evening the group found themselves at Barber VW in Ventura, CA. Hosting the spectators to a barbecue dinner and live entertainment…. and of course, the beautiful cars! One couldn’t asked for a better way to spend an evening.

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May 13, 2005 – Herbie And Friends Cruise Across America – Santa Monica, CA

We started the cruise celebration in the Pacific Ocean. Well, technically on the Santa Monica Pier over the ocean. Disney joined Volkswagen to celebrate VW’s 50th anniversary and the upcoming release of “Herbie Fully Loaded”. A number of VW enthusiasts also came out early this Friday morning to show their support as well as their unique and beloved vehicles. Stay with us as we take this show on the road over the next few weeks!

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