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A Bug Love Affair That Goes Back 20 Years

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Tags: love bug, vw beetle

When Lee met Bertie 

Lee Fowkes with his bug, Bertie, 20 years ago

Have you ever walked past an item in a shop and thought “I’ve got to have that”?

This is exactly how a young Lee felt during a family drive, passing by the village of Leigh Sinton in Worcestershire’s rolling countryside.

Lee demanded that his dad pulled over. His head had been turned by a parked-up 1968 VW Beetle brandishing the reg LEE 511F.

This car literally had Lee’s name on it. 

He had to wait another 12 months before he saw it again. That’s when his family passed down the same road and, to Lee’s delight, he saw the same Beetle in a state of disrepair.

Lee’s father asked the owner if they would sell it. It was agreed that Lee’s family would pay the £300 asking price if he passed his GCSEs and got into college.

Lee passed. Unbeknown to him, his parents had bought the VW six months earlier in anticipation of success.

Unfortunately, the seller kept the number plate, but it couldn’t diminish Lee’s joy and so began a major restoration project.

The many adventures of Bertie Beetle 

- August 21, 1994: Bertie finds a new owner: Lee Fowkes

- 1997: Bertie is written-off after a crash sees his frontage badly damaged. Lee keeps the salvage. He puts his policy payout towards restoring him again

- 1998: Bertie debuts on the “catwalk“ among the prestigious British Volkswagen Festival’s models, winning “Best Paint” gong 

Lee Fowkes’s daughter Emilia, Lee himself, and his mother Mal.

 Today Lee is the proud possessor of VWs dating back over four decades.

 Lee’s family of VW's includes:  

- an MK 1 VW Golf (1983)

- a VW Camper (1971)

 and, of course, his pride and joy, Bertie, his VW Beetle (1968)