Queensland Beetle enthusiasts bond over love of VW bugs


Since taking “Herbie” from a garden bed in Brisbane, Izaak Boyan has devoted hundreds of hours to his beloved 1967 Volkswagen Beetle.

The central Queensland man said his life would be “very different” without the virus, which he saved from a collapsed pizza business as a teenager.

“We go everywhere together,” Boyan said.

“It kind of helped me open up a bit more, because I’m generally very introverted.

“I wouldn’t have made these amazing friends.

As the general used car market has skyrocketed, the Queensland Vintage Vehicle Association (QVVA) said the value of vintage and classic cars has climbed by as much as 25%.

The three friends embark on a joint project to restore another bug.(ABC Capricorn: Jasmin Hines)

Buggy punch!

Mr. Boyan said there were challenges in owning Herbie.

“He’s old and he’s very slow, so you can’t really get away from anyone quickly and you get cut off a lot,” he said.

“The good thing is that everyone waves when you walk past… or you see them punching each other and that is a lot of fun too.”

The vintage cream interior of a Volkswagen Beetle.  There is a sign for the gear lever with different levels of deceleration.
The interior of Izaak Boyan’s Volkswagen Beetle.(ABC Capricorn: Jasmin Hines)

Mr Boyan said the love of bugs has helped him connect with other young enthusiasts.

“Without these cars I don’t think we would have ever met or talked,” he said.

A girl dressed in red touches her engine.  There is a red cap.
Kirrily McKie loves her pumped up engine.(ABC Capricorn: Jasmin Hines)

‘I just fell in love’

Tieri resident Kirrily McKie bought her first Beetle on a whim.

“When I was six, I saw the movie Herbie Fully Loaded and fell in love with the bugs,” she said.

“When I was 20 I luckily managed to find this one for sale and it was pretty much an impulse buy.

“I just jumped [online] the day it was announced, and we called the guy and had to put down a deposit almost right away because he had about 40 other people interested.

“We were just hoping he would come home.”

Herbie car memorabilia on the wall of a garage.
Like Ms. Mckie, Mr. Boyan says he fondly remembers watching the Herbie movies as a child.(ABC Capricorn: Jasmin Hines)

Ms. Mckie says her 1975 Superbug, named Bertie, “means everything” to her.

A young woman in a dress and heels, sitting in a VW Beetle hood, smiling.
Kirrily McKie says Bertie represents the world to her.(Instagram: bertie_the_vw_beetle)

Unbreakable bond

James Allen bought his Bug 1302 S, 1972, known as Beryl – or Bezza – in August 2020.

“I really appreciate that you can work on it and not destroy it,” he said.

“There are no computers, it is quite simple and easy to work.

“Everything you do while driving, driving with the pedals, everything is directly related to the car, where modern cars today – they drive, really.

Three cars lined up near a lake with three people, two boys and a girl.
The three friends bonded over their love of VW bugs.(ABC Capricorn: Jasmin Hines)

Keep Beetle Mania Alive

Bugs brought together Mrs. McKie, Mr. Allen and Mr. Boyan.

“I initially met James – our bugs both go to the same mechanic – then Izaak whom I met via a Facebook page,” Ms. McKie said.

“I had Bertie at Rocky Nats and I said, ‘Let’s meet’… and I think we talked for about two hours, until dusk.”

The trio often ride with the “Rocky VeeDubbers”, a club of Volkswagen enthusiasts, and the friends together restore a 1970 bug to 1300.

“We’re all under 30 and there aren’t a lot of people who own them,” McKie said.

Three Volkswagen Beetles driving on a bridge.  There is a lake in the background
The love of the movie Herbie brings together Volkswagen enthusiasts.(ABC Capricorn: Jasmin Hines)

Barry Shipway, QVVA committee member, said the enthusiasm for vintage and classic cars is “something we don’t want to die”.

“We have to keep our history alive,” he said.

“We old folks won’t be here forever.

Three Volkswagen Beetles lined up with their owners standing next to them.
Izaak Boyan, James Allen, and Kirrily McKie often ride their Beetles together.(ABC Capricorn: Jasmin Hines)

Rising value

QVVA President Don Lake said COVID increased the value of vehicles.

“A minimum of 10 to 20 percent is observed on particularly old cars, classified from 1919 to 1930,” he said.

Classic cars are starting to show the same increase – it’s more like 12-25%.

“The parts are getting harder and harder to get, the people who restore the parts for us – when we find them – are harder to find. “

Mr Lake said the cars were being removed from the sheds after years of storage.

“The painters and bodybuilders are very busy – we have six and seven month waiting lists just to work on these cars,” he said.

“[It] saw vehicles put up for sale at prices you would normally get for a passenger car, but they are unrestored. “

Whatever the challenges, Mr. Allen, Mrs. McKie and Mr. Boyan hope to see the community grow.

“You meet a lot of people and sometimes you make some really good friends along the way,” Boyan said.

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