Monday, June 2, 2014

A tall man in a small car Restoring Lindbergh's Beetle

The Star Tribune (Minneapolis/St. Paul, USA) July 8, 2001

It's such an ordinary car, this bedraggled 1959 Volkswagen Beetle, with its dents and rust spots and an odometer that couldn't register all the miles.

That ordinariness is a great part of its charm, considering it belonged to world-famous aviator Charles Lindbergh. He spent boyhood summers in Minnesota and donated the Beetle to the Minnesota Historical Society.

"Most of our visitors are amazed to learn that Lindbergh drove this sort of car, considering the fact that he could afford to be driven around in a limousine anywhere he wanted," said Donald Westfall, manager of the Lindbergh historic site in Little Falls, Minnesota.

Lindbergh preferred to travel without being recognised as a celebrity, and he wasn't one to seek out physical comforts, Westfall said. Rather, "He would appreciate the challenge of not being so comfortable." Lindbergh, a tall man at 6 feet 4, even slept in the small car on trips to Egypt, around the Mediterranean and throughout Europe.

The gray VW is being prepared for display at the Minnesota History Centre in St. Paul, starting in mid-July. It will return to Little Falls next summer as a focus of a new exhibit at the Lindbergh House. It's not being restored; the scrapes, dents and rust will stay. It's being conserved; the Historical Society is trying to prevent further deterioration and keep the car as well-maintained as its owner did. The German VW engine is considered very well-built, and pilot Lindbergh, of course, appreciated that.
Lindbergh's Trans-Atlantic ?Spirit of St. Louis?  

Added seat belts

Lindbergh was 25 years old when he made his historic solo flight across the Atlantic in May 1927. After the 1932 kidnapping and murder of his first child, he and his family kept a distance from the public. They lived in England from 1935 to 1939.

He paid about $1,000 for the Volkswagen when he bought it new in Paris in 1959. It came with no radio, and he never put one in. He did add a ski rack and seat belts and operated it under a French tourist license for several years. In his book "Autobiography of Values," he wrote an anecdote involving the car:

What is it like to live the life of a Masai? Driving along a one-track dirt road in southern Kenya once, I overtook two spearmen and offered them a ride. They accepted solemnly and started to climb into my small Volkswagen, but their sharp-bladed weapons were too long to take inside. Seeing their confusion, I switched off the engine, walked around to their open door, and held out my hand. Each man handed me his spear. I motioned one to the back seat and the other to the front, then placed the spears, point forward, against the side of the car. The man in front held them there, through the open window. My Volkswagen must have looked like an armed knight as it rolled through the dust and sand.

When he was 68, he drove the Beetle to Little Falls from his home in Connecticut, stopping at the Lindbergh historic site. John Rivard, then site manager, left notes about the 1970 visit:

"Surprise was expressed that he would drive all the way from Connecticut in this small battered car. He said that he loved the car. It had been on four continents, and he had even slept in it on occasions. When someone seemed to doubt this possibility, he proceeded to take the right front seat apart and set it up again in a lengthened-out position. He then placed himself on it full length, like a boy showing off his toy."

The next evening Lindbergh made a phone call and announced that he would have to fly to New York to attend a meeting of the Pan Am board of directors, on which he served. He left his VW in the tuck-under garage at the Lindbergh house. Rivard noted, "He locked the car, being careful to leave one window slightly open, then gave me the key for safekeeping until he returned."

But he never picked up the car. He donated it to the Historical Society in 1972, two years before his death. He wrote in September 1972, "In signing the paper of transfer for the Volkswagen, I am surprised at the nostalgia I encounter."

Save the dents

During the past few months, the VW has been transformed from simply a vintage vehicle into a museum artifact.

In March 2001 the car was removed from the Lindbergh House garage. It had been a popular feature of the house tours. (So is the Lindbergh family's 1916 Saxon car, in which Charles Lindbergh took his first driving adventure. At age 14, he drove the Saxon to California as chauffeur for his mother and uncle.)

From Little Falls, the Beetle went to a VW specialist in Stillwater, where mechanics cleaned the car's mechanical parts and removed the fluids.

Aaron Novodvorksy of the exhibits staff said, "The car's running gear, drive train and engine were completely disassembled, and the fluids were replaced with Cosmoline wax." This is the process the military uses when it "mothballs" vehicles, such as jeeps and trucks, he said. Although the car has not been started since the 1970's, someday the wax could be removed and the car made to run again.

Conservator Paul Storch is working on the car in his Historical Society lab. (Next to the VW is an 1880's horse-drawn buggy, once owned by former Gov. Alexander Ramsey.) A rust inhibitor was applied to all concealed parts. The car will be cleaned, hand washed and given a wax coating to protect the finish.

Storch will save the little dents, such as the one Lindbergh's daughter Reeve wrote about in her memoir, "Under a Wing." Recalling her first visit to the Lindbergh House in 1975, she wrote, "I was amused to see our old Volkswagen, the one I had learned to drive in, with a dent still in the left front fender where I'd run into the stone wall at the curve of our driveway."

A collection of items shows that he planned his trips carefully. He carried maps with hand written notations. Inside the car were: two suitcases, a flashlight, gas can, canteen, machete, inflatable air mattress, whisk broom, small shovel, plastic canteen, miscellaneous tools, wire, metal tubing, spoon and cans of dried beef, sardines and baked beans. Under the Connecticut license plates, which expired in October 1972, are European ones, probably French. The odometer reads 30,051, but Lindbergh said the car had about 130,000 miles.

"It's an early-model Beetle, and in reasonably good shape, so a collector would buy it," said researcher Paul Blankman. "But its real significance comes from the fact that Charles Lindbergh drove the car on four continents and personally donated it to the Historical Society.

Disney's Movie Rumour

Herbie the Love Bug

Release Date: Unknown

Title Note: The title, Herbie the Love Bug, is tentative, as the title may change when Disney decides upon a script.

Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures Cast: None announced yet. It's unknown if Dean Jones, who has played Herbie owner Jim Douglas in all versions except 1980's Herbie Goes Bananas, and 1974's Herbie Rides Again, will be returning in any capacity.

Director: Unknown.

Director/Screenwriter Note: Back in 1999, it was announced that J. Max Burnett (1998's Possums) was working on a script titled Herbie & Millie, but it appears that Disney isn't going ahead with that project, as they are currently seeking a writer to start from scratch.

Screenwriter: Daniel Gerson (copywriter of Monsters, Inc.), Robert Baird (debut; he and Gerson have worked together on TV's The New Addams Family and 1999's Misguided Angels); rewrite by David Berenbaum (debut; he's also working on the movie version of Disney's ride attraction, Haunted Mansion)

Based Upon: This will be the fifth feature film in the Herbie series that started with The Love Bug (1969), followed by Herbie Rides Again (1974), Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977), and Herbie Goes Bananas (1980). These movies were followed in 1982 by a very short-lived TV series called Herbie the Love Bug, and in 1997 by a Wonderful World of Disney movie, The Love Bug.

Car Note: Though this is the first Herbie movie in 20 years, and that time has seen the advent of The New Beetle, Disney is currently leaning towards keeping Herbie an older model car, with racing stripes, labelled with the number 53, though they're still open to a possible redesign. The Hollywood Reporter quoted Disney sources as saying they don't want this movie to merely serve as ¿a commercial for the new VW Beetle (10/18/00).

Premise: There are no details yet known, as Disney has not yet hired a writer. The only thing we can count on is that this will be about a VW Bug, Herbie, that can drive itself.
Filming: 11/26/00 - Though there is no script yet, Disney does hope to get filming started sometime in the spring of 2001 before the expected SAG strike. (5/8/01) Well, it looks like that isn't going to happen, and there's no word about when it will... it could be a while.

Source: wheelspin

New Beetle To Be Run By Windows XPZ

Seattle, Washington:

Microsoft founder and president, Bill Gates, has announced in a press conference that all VW ´New Beetles' sold from August 1998 will be fitted with the new Windows XP computer operating system.

Gates has timed his announcement to restore consumer faith in the New Beetle at just the moment that VW would want. No prior details of any cooperation between VW and Microsoft have been released to the press.

"I have greatly admired the New Beetle since VW revealed the Concept 1 several years ago," Gates said at the press conference. "It represents a triumph of media hype, rumour and marketing promotion over substance, something Microsoft has done for years.

"It was only natural that we work together to provide a more suitable means to travel the information superhighway. From August 1998, all New Beetles will come standard with Windows XP, not just on monitors in the cabin but controlling every facet of the car.

"Not just the engine, gearbox, brakes, fuel system, electrics, hydraulics etc. will be done on computer; everyone does that. On the New Beetle, you'll actually OPERATE the car with Windows XP - to buckle up, start the car, steer, turn, brake and stuff all through an easy-to-use, Microsoft Windows interface."

No members of the press were able to test the system at the launch, nor were any brochures available. However, several pages of the VW-Microsoft operation manual were leaked:

Instructions For MS New Beetle XPŽ

You must first unlock the door. By doing so you agree to accept and honour Microsoft rights to all Volkswagens. You may not let anyone else drive your New Beetle (which would infringe Microsoft's rights). You may, however, let others look at your New Beetle and are encouraged to tell them to buy their own copy.

Sit behind the control monitor. To start the New Beetle, boot the operating system, wait for the desktop to load, then enter the following keystrokes at the command prompt: <\msvw.-car.//01drv@cncpt1//. Wait for the software to load, then enter start.motor_coldgocar#startme. When this has finished scrolling, click and hold the Key icon and drag it to the Switch button. When the short diagnostic routine has compiled and run, a dialog box will appear. Enter your User ID and password, then Click OK. Wait until the hourglass has disappeared.

Note: Some Beta test cars were fitted with Macintosh software. If your New Beetle has this superseded version, sit in the car and press Start. The engine will then start.

Should the engine fail to start, shut down, exit and re-enter the car to reset the sensor, then enter This simple process may have to be repeated. Try unplugging the engine interface module then doing a complete cold start IMPL. If this doesn't work, contact the Microsoft Helpline (wait calls charged at £1 per min).

Similarly, to slow the car down simply enter slow~stop#hit.brakes:. When the window appears, click on the Brake Now button. To the prompt "Do you wish to Brake Now?", click Yes. When the message "Are You Sure?" appears, click OK.

Some users have complained that the dashboard of the New Beetle contains switches which have no function. These are for future software releases. Microsoft promises an entertainment package with every New Beetle from 1999. However that version has yet to be released. Microsoft New Beetle 98Ž may be incompatible with other cars in your garage, causing your house's electrics to malfunction. This is a feature, not a bug. Your other cars will have to be upgraded anyway.

Source: wheelspin