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Annie: The Story of a Daily Driven 50-Year Old Volkswagen Beetle and Her Owner

In December 1966, Kathleen Books walked into a Volkswagen dealer in Riverside, California and made the purchase of a lifetime. For $2,300, she drove away in a brand new ruby red 1967 VW Beetle with a white vinyl interior, upgraded exhaust, and 53 horsepower. She nicked the named the car "Annie" because of its red paint. Over the next 50 years, Books and Annie were inseparable. They were partners that had been through a lot together: multiple jobs, owning a business, marriage, divorce, and surviving breast cancer on three separate occasions. Despite these hardships, the one constant in her life has been Annie who has been there every step of the way. Never a garage queen, she has accumulated over 350,000 miles from driving up and down the coast of the Golden State.

Annie has been the only car Kathleen Books has ever owned, and in December 2016, she called a local San Diego TV Station to ask if they were interested in her story. They were, and it turns out so was Volkswagen. The automaker indicated interest in Kathleen and Annie’s special bond. Volkswagen found the story of Books and Annie driving together every day so fascinating they offered to restore the five decades old Beetle at their factory in Puebla, Mexico. The reason Puebla was chosen was the last aired-cooled VW Beetle rolled off the assembly line here in 2003.

In October 2017, VW picked up the tired old bug and brought it down to Puebla to begin the restoration process. Factory engineer Augusto Zamudio would head the restoration, as he restores vintage Beetles in his spare time. When Annie arrived in Puebla, VW workers could quickly see the half-century of wear and tear that she had endured. The harsh UV light of the California sun dulled her once bright red paint, her chrome bumpers were full of dents and scuffs, and her window vents had to be held open with twine.

As they began work on the full-rotisserie restoration, challenges began to mount. There were holes in Annie’s floor plan, her motor had lost all power, and her brakes were worn. Welders patched the holes in her body and took care of other rust spots that had formed. The body was reinforced to be made stronger and Annie was given a new set of doors and chrome bumpers. Her original paint color was replicated thanks to matching the color from the paint inside the glove box.

The brakes were replaced with a modern disc-brake system and her motor was stripped apart for a full nuts and bolts rebuild. The motor was given new parts and now produces more horsepower than it did in 1966. Two special touches include a roof rack and a custom driver’s seat with "Annie" stitched into it. In all, the full restoration process took 11 months. Zamudio and his team grew very attached to the car over the 11 months.

Augusto Zamudio delivered the car personally to Books. When Books first laid eyes upon the newly restored Annie, her jaw hit the floor. "This is what I dreamed of, but I had no idea she would look this good, " says Books. "On a scale of 1 to 10, I wanted a 10. She’s a 25."

Kathleen Books took a few shakedown laps around the parking lot as she reunited with her old friend. She personally thanked Zamudio before driving home with the best friend she’s ever had.

Drivers in the Broken Arrow and Owasso areas that want to create their own "Annie" stories can come to Don Thornton Volkswagen of Tulsa to view our new car inventory. Whether you plan to drive across the country or stick around the Claremore or Bixby communities, you’ll find reliable vehicles that will last for miles of adventure.

Categories: New Inventory
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