34-years later, Fleming became – for the first time – a guest in Wolfsburg, the birthplace and home of his cult object. The Californian gladly accepts the invitation to a cruise and chat in the cult Beetle “Herbie”, through the Wolfsburg countryside. There is much to talk about regarding the legendary creation of the “Cal Look”. And you don’t sit behind the wheel of a cinema hero like “Herbie” every day. “The first Herbie film, ‘The Love Bug’, was a milestone in 1968. In the USA it triggered a true Beetlemania, which was also noticeable in the tuning scene,” says Ron. “Even though we were already in Beetle fever for many years, Herbie itself had nothing to do with the Cal Look.”
Cheap and robust, compact and cool
Several books have been published on the history and birth of the “Cal Look”, and recently there has been a flood of blogs and fansites. Ron Fleming describes the pioneers’ attitude to life: “We were a colorful troupe who wanted speed, but also understatement. Unlike Hot Rods, popular with racing fans in the 50s, the Beetle hit the zeitgeist of the 60s. “The Beetle was cheap and robust, but also compact and cool at the same time,” says Fleming. “Not a show-off car, but one for individualists.” And as mentioned in the introduction: “You provided some amusing surprises at traffic lights.”
And last but not least: on the dragstrips. The short race tracks, mostly around 400 meters long, on which the fastest accelerators of the tuning scene were chosen, enjoyed steadily growing popularity in the USA from the 1950s onwards. Beetles were initially exotic there, but due to their low weight they soon began to show their advantages. With more and more powerful engines, the “Cal Look” Beetles on the drag strip became more and more popular.