There is a gap of about the first 30 years of my Bug’s life. I know that Pixar director and former chief creative officer John Lasseter* owned the car for some time before the Autumn of 1998, since he drove it to the premier of A Bug’s Life** at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California.
In preparation for the premier and to coincide with a fundraiser, John Lasseter’s Beetle was themed to become “Francis” (who is a character in A Bug’s Life) with the talent of Chris Beatrice–Graphic Specialist, Sheila Bonbright–Creative Consultant/Sonoma School Fundraiser and Dave Bonbright, of the famous Engine Masters***. The Bug was raffled to benefit California’s Sonoma Valley Schools. This late ‘90s WebSite has some information on the raffle and history of the car.
Between the time it was raffled until about 2008, only “Francis” knows what went on.
Around 2008, a gentleman spotted “Francis” in a used car lot in Iowa and decided to buy the VW Beetle as a surprise for his wife. They had many adventures with “Francis” for a little over 10 years, which was documented on the car’s own FaceBook page.
Through an odd set of circumstances, I purchased “Francis” from the Bernard family in April, 2019, and now administer the FB page to keep up with “Francis’” outings.
The car obviously is a 1967 VW Beetle and is powered by a 1600cc dual-carb motor, but that is about all that is normal about this Bug.
First, it has the unique paint job designed by Chris Beatrice and painted by Dave Bonbright.
Second it has a very unique headliner which is signed and animated by many of the A Bug’s Life cast as well as key Pixar persons who worked on the film. Included in this list are: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, John Ratzenberger, Phyllis Diller, Dave Foley, Johnathan Harris, and several more.
With all of that, I just love getting behind that big steering wheel right by my chest and driving. There is nothing like getting behind the wheel of a Classic Beetle!
*John Alan Lasseter is an American animator, director, producer, screenwriter, and the former chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. He also was the Principal Creative Advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering. Lasseter’s first job was with The Walt Disney Company, where he became an animator.
**A Bug’s Life is a 1998 American computer-animated comedy film produced by Pixar Animation Studios for Walt Disney Pictures. It was the second film produced by Pixar.
A misfit ant, looking for “warriors” to save his colony from greedy grasshoppers, recruits a group of bugs that turns out to be an inept circus troupe
***Engine Masters is located in Sonoma, California. This organization primarily operates in the Engine Repair Business/Industry within the Automotive Repair, Services and Parking Sector. The organization has been operating for approximately 45 years.