For more than half a century, Annie, the Volkswagen Beetle, stuck by Kathleen Brooks’s side, just like a best friend or family member, seeing her through the trials and tribulations of young adulthood all the way through three bouts of breast cancer.
But the years took their toll, and it looked like she was coming to the end of the line. With a whopping 350,000 miles on her odometer, the 1967 Volkswagen’s engine was faltering. It wasn’t running as smoothly, her coat had long since lost its luster, and rust was slowly eating away at her aged body.
The similarities between Kathleen, a 73-year-old Californian who now works with breast cancer patients and survivors, and her faithful little sidekick aren’t lost on her.
I’ve said many times she and I are so much alike because she’s old, she’s faded, she’s dinged, she’s dented, she’s rusted, but you know what? She keeps running. And as long as I take as good care of her as I can, she’s going to continue to run.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen of North America had somehow caught wind of the special bond between Kathleen and Annie. So they made an offer she couldn’t refuse: To honor their bond, the company wanted to restore Annie to her former glory.
Neither Kathleen nor Annie could imagine being apart for however long it took to get the job done, but in the end, they knew it was for the best. Kathleen saw her faithful little love bug off with a loving kiss, and Annie was hauled off to a Volkswagen factory in Puebla, Mexico.
Employees there toiled away for nearly a year, replacing nearly half of her body, redoing her wiring and transmission and rebuilding her engine.
Her interior was restored to factory model condition, and even upgraded with an AM/FM/Bluetooth stereo. Parting had been such sweet sorrow, but Annie knew it’d be worth it when she presented her new and improved self to Kathleen. She was simply beaming with pride — especially with a new, lustrous coat that matched the original — and she couldn’t wait to see the twinkle in Kathleen’s eyes when they finally set eyes on each other again.
“This was a labor of love for all of us. It was emotional to see Annie go after all the time we have spent working on her, but we are happy Kathleen and her can be reunited,” says Augusto Zamudio, the project manager and mechatronics engineer.
After 11 months of pining away for each other, Annie and Kathleen were finally reunited earlier this month, and it was as sweet as you’d imagine!
“I hear her,” Kathleen says, her back turned and eyes closed as Annie pulls to a stop behind her. “Ohhh, she sounds good!”
Volkswagen beetles are classics that will always have a special place in the heart of anyone who ever owned one, regardless of year.
Watch the video below to see Kathleen’s reaction to Annie’s new look and hear more about all the work that went into the project. Share with everyone you know who cherishes the time they spent with these adorable love bugs!
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