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Enduring story of love and adventure

Ivan and Beth Hodge had tears in their eyes when reuniting with their 1961 Volkswagen Deluxe Saloon (Beetle) this week, which has been on display at MOTAT since 2016.
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The visit was a chance for the now Sydney-based couple to catch up with “the world’s most travelled Beetle” and for Ivan, who turns 90 next year, “to see if his old key still fits”.

In 1961, this adventurous couple drove their brand-new Beetle from London to New Zealand across Europe, the Middle East and India. Then they did it again 35 years later as a second honeymoon in 1996!

Despite their years, both Beetle and the couple are still full of life: the car is driveable, and the Hodges, married for more than 60 years, still gently rib each other about the sticky points in their intrepid journeys!

“Seeing the Beetle really does bring back so many memories,” said Beth, “We were just trying to work out how we both managed to lie down and sleep in it on that first trip!”

MOTAT was delighted to welcome the original owners of the famous Beetle and, as MOTAT’s Chief Executive Michael Frawley noted, “it is always a moving experience when the adventurous couple visit their ‘love bug’ at the museum and to watch them resist the temptation to take it out for a quick drive around the block.”

Daughter Keris and granddaughter Bianca joined Beth and Ivan on this visit. Both have fond memories of the Beetle that has been a part of the lives of four generations. Keris recalls many happy family picnics in the Beetle when she was a child and Bianca was regularly collected from school in it.

Along with the Beetle, Ivan and Beth gifted an archive to MOTAT, including memorabilia of their first trip. They were able to pore over these items in the Walsh Memorial Library, including a 1961 issue of The Pakistan Times Revolution Day Supplement.

Beth and Ivan documented their two journeys in their book For Love and a Beetle and completed a “Bye Bye Beetle” tour of New Zealand before gifting the car to MOTAT in 2016.

The VW Beetle holds a special place in the hearts of many Kiwis and was a popular car in New Zealand between 1960 and the 1980s. MOTAT’s one-owner example came with impeccable pedigree and an interesting story, so fit well with its collection.

For more information, to arrange a visit or to request images, please contact Nicole Parish, Senior Communications Advisor

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Ivan and Beth in their beloved Gulf Blue Beetle
Ivan and Beth in their beloved Gulf Blue Beetle