Kurt Tucker’s L639 Zenith Blue ’67 Beetle

I bought my first ‘67 Beetle in 1987.  After graduating High School, I really needed a car but, just like any typical teenager, I didn’t have much money. Growing up in Southern California, there were plenty of old VWs that would fit my budget. I found myself a blue 1967 VW bug for just under $1000.  Sadly, I had to sell my Bug when I was in college but I knew some day I would buy another one.

That “day” took about 15 years. It all started with my brother, John, talking about VWs to a friend at work. During their conversation, his friend mentioned that his wife owned a 1967 VW Bug which they drove on occasion, but that it mainly stayed parked in their garage. My brother mentioned to him that I would be interested in buying the car when they were ready to sell.  See John-L and Kurt-R sitting on the bumper of the newly acquired Beetle.

About a year later, Fred and Michelle Laccabue were ready to sell their Zenith Blue ‘67 Beetle. My brother and I drove to their house in his 1965, 21 Window Microbus. We thought that would be fitting for the occasion. Fred had the car all ready for us when we arrived. He also provided the original manuals, years of old maintenance receipts, and 30 plus years of California registration stubs. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to discuss the family history of it. I had a feeling that it was a very emotional moment for Michelle and really didn’t want to push the subject.  See Kurt and Charmagne enjoying the rear bumper of the newly acquired ’67.

The Bug has remained virtually unchanged since I bought it 17 years ago.  I plan to keep it that way. I just enjoy driving it on the weekends with my kids.

I have added a few period specific options.  One in particular is a Sapphire V Radio that I bought from Jay Salser. My wife and I drove over to Jay’s house to pick up the Radio. We stayed a while and had a great time talking about VWs and other things. That visit and further conversations with Jay really motivated me to know more about my Beetle’s history.

I decided to reach out to the original owner, Michelle, after these 17 years. My wife, through social media, was able to track down Michelle and send her a message. Michelle responded within a day and was really excited to hear about the car. I sent her photos and we shared stories about the Bug. She told me all she could remember about the car. 

In May of 1967, Michelle’s father, Paul Savage, purchased the car brand new for $1600 from Spartan VW in San Jose, California. He used the car for his daily commute from San Jose to San Bruno for work until 1971. At that time, Michelle had just graduated from college and needed a car. He sold her his Bug for a low Bluebook price of $900. Now she had a new set of wheels and named her Bug, “URBIE”.  That name came from the first three letters of the car’s license plate, URB.  See Paul and Michelle—the two previous owners of Kurt’s Bug.

She told me all the adventures she could remember with URBIE.   Nothing crazy, just local driving and some road trips with her friends around the San Francisco Bay area.

One moment she really remembered was driving down Hwy. 280 when the little red light came on. She remembered her father talking about the white light** but not the red light, so she kept driving. The car finally quit on Hwy. 280 and Stevens Creek. The little red light lesson ended up costing $500 for a VW exchange engine, which still is in the car. 

She also said that URBIE made his part in history. Michelle laughed as she told me that URBIE participated in Flower Power in the early ‘70s. She explained that all she really did was to put Flower Power stickers on the Bug and placed a hippie colored “Powered By Michelle” sticker on the dash.   Thankfully, she didn’t use spray paint.

URBIE also was used for the daily commute to the courthouse for the highly publicized Angela Davis Case in 1972.

Michelle used the car as a daily driver until she married Fred in 1978. After that, URBIE became a 3rd car in the family and was used only on occasion.

Talking to Michelle has brought a lot of closure for her and me. She shared with me that for years she really regretted selling her Bug.   But when I reached out to her and sent photos of URBIE, she felt that it couldn’t have gone to a better person.

Kurt and Charmagne visited the Salsers a few months ago.  We memorialized the visit with a photo shoot.

Doesn’t Kurt’s Beetle show well on the front lawn?

Note:  Names of former owners were used with permission.

**Kurt and I discussed the “white” light and assumed that the green oil light had faded.  In fact, Kurt examined the speedometer and tells me that the green oil light gel has faded to a very light color.  Since the former owner affirms that the red generator warning light showed, we surmise that the fan belt had broken.  Once the fan stopped turning, the engine over-heated and quit.

Posted by Jay Salser

My wife, Neva, and I have been driving and working on VWs since 1976. In fact, we raised our family in these cars. Now, we are retired and enjoy VWs as a hobby. The ’67 Beetle always has been our favorite year. We own a '67 Beetle and a '68 Karmann Ghia.

  1. Good one, brother, JK! Zenith blue has always been a fav color.

  2. Richard A Diaz (Dick) August 24, 2019 at 9:27 pm

    Now that is a great story! So excited to read your work Jay!

    1. This is Kurt’s Story. I only am the “facilitator”! The joy for me was in being able to meet the Tuckers. What a great couple! I am blessed! jay salser

  3. Fingerlakesmike August 24, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    Identical to mine, except for the roof rack. I don’t have one. Same L639 paint, same wheels, same interior. Love it!

  4. Neat story. Very nice car. In addition to his wealth of knowledge, Jay is also a really good writer.

    1. Hi, Thad…Kurt wrote the story–I did only some light editing and placed the photos. Kurt gets the credit for his research to contact the last owner and to bring everything together for the Featured Story. Then, Eric did his magic and–the story appeared in this wonderful format! jay

  5. Love the Zenith Blue. Great story too.

  6. I bought my Zenith Blue bug in Santa Monica and 1968s were available as well. Maybe inflation increased the price in that short time but mine cost $2,004.44. It was a no brainer to opt for the ’67 over the ’68. Unfortunately, a Roadrunner carrying 6 teenagers put that bug on someone’s lawn on its way to the junkyard with 2,004 miles on the odometer. i’m glad that stout shape kept me from serious harm.
    Great story and thanks to Jay and Eric for helping maintain this community.

    1. Oh, Fritz—I am so sorry to hear about your almost new ’67. Yes–so glad that you did not suffer severe injury–that might have killed any love for the Beetles. The consolation–you now have another of these great ’67s! jay

  7. Great Story – Love it !!!

  8. Thanks everyone for the positive feedback and thanks Eric for hosting such a great website where we can all share our stories. I really had a great time working with Jay and Michelle. The 67 is such a unique variation of the Beetle and adding a little personal history even makes it more so. The Beetle truly is a time machine, because anyone who has owned, borrowed or ridden in one always says, ” remember that time.”

  9. I have a 1966 VW convertible. I am the second owner. I got it in 1974. Upgraded from 6 to 12 volt and from a 1300 engine to a 1600. I will never sell it! It’s in beautiful shape still.

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