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Hamilton's ultimate Volkswagen enthusiast

The enthusiast that he is, Howie has helped organize an on-going VW Beetle rally that's celebrating its 10th anniversary this summer in Roswell, New Mexico.

  • Detail of an automatic gear shifter in a new, modern car. Modern car interior with close-up of automatic transmission and cockpit background

For some it becomes a craving almost like a physical addiction. For others it’s an obsession, a fulfilling hobby that can take up hours outside the workplace – and then there’s Howie Lipton – west Hamilton’s ‘just-for-the-fun-of-it’ Volkswagen enthusiast.

Howie has been collecting VWs in all shapes and forms along with their accessories since 1995 – just around the time VW was re-releasing schematics of the Concept One or the ‘New Bug’.

By 1998 the Concept One was a real car, Disney was going to make Herbie new again and Howie had his hands on the unusual press kit released by VW from the Detroit Auto Show that year. That was then, now the collection tops $6000 but, who’s counting according to this collector who says he’s “into it for the fun of it and the relationships these sort of followings draw up.”

Lipton has owned six New VW Beetles and currently drives a diesel smart car, proclaiming that he “never drives the makes of the ordinary”. Over the past decade and a half, the VW guru has assembled a rather unique collection from the German car maker that includes all sorts of new bugs of all shapes and sizes, a ride along, boxing shorts and even a video tape rewinder in the shape of a bug as well as pasta displaying the famous logo!

Howie’s love for the New Beetle lies primarily in the art-like lines in the car’s body, “the vehicle’s pure aesthetics” as he puts it.

Although Howie has never met Lindsay Lohan or Dennis Quaid, of Disney’s ‘Herbie Full Throttle’, he did meet the star of “The Love Bug” movie, Dean Jones! A very exciting day for Howie indeed!

The enthusiast that he is, Howie has helped organize an on-going VW Beetle rally that’s celebrating its 10th anniversary this summer in Roswell, New Mexico. To get involved in the rally, log onto his website at www.howielipton.com, or visit www.return2roswell.org for more details. Howie uses his web site to showcase his marvelous VW New Beetle collection. The site has a fun-filled photo gallery of his toy collection, favourite links for other VW enthusiasts and some in-depth avenues towards finding the what’s what in New Beetle accessories. Howie also keeps in touch with other VW lovers through his website and professes he “may be closer to them than some of his family members, despite having never seen them eye to eye.”

Howie has headed six of nine Beetle caravans from Ontario to New Mexico and plans to head this summer’s journey to Roswell. The four-day trek across America is filled with sightseeing all along Route 66. A colourful convoy of Beetles sprinting down the freeway to the alien capital is one in a long line of events for the Pod-like automobiles.

While in New Mexico, New ‘Buggers’ parade their rides, socialize, accessorize and can even drag race other Beetles legally. One rally even saw the group re-create the famous Disney scene of a thousand bugs at a desert drive-in, watching Herbie on the big screen just like they did in 68′ during the films original release. Despite the two films and the obvious cult following surrounding the VW Beetle, Howie maintains his collection is just for fun and is special because it pertains to just the New Beetle. And he claims it will remain in his hands until the right enthusiast comes along.

Howie is quick to point out that his collection wouldn’t be as wild and wacky without the Internet and of course support of his spouse, Tzvia.

Now a Computer Technician, this former Greyhound bus driver has started a Greyhound Bus Toy collection and it certainly comes as a delight to the family pet “Oreo” who, of course, is a greyhound too.

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