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-   -   Do Volkswagen Beetles float? (http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=87137)

snopes 14 September 2013 04:09 AM

Do Volkswagen Beetles float?
 
Comment: Do you know anything about the rumor that a Volkswagen beetle would float?
I used to hear about this when I was a kid and always wondered if it was
true.

crescent 14 September 2013 04:20 AM

I don't know about VW beetles, but the vans seem to float very well.

I once witnessed the results of a large flash flood that swept through a parking lot which had about ten cars in it.

The cars were all swept away and completely mangled - except for a VW van (an early 90's model) which appeared to have floated upright for some hundreds of yards before before being gently deposited on the alluvial fan where the flood dissipated. The carpet on the floorboards didn't even appear to have gotten wet.

It did appear to maybe have some damage to the under-carriage, but generally looked as if it could be driven away again, while all the other cars were just mangled and twisted lumps of metal.

Singing in the Drizzle 14 September 2013 04:32 AM

I have a friend that received at ticket for taking is VW Beetle out onto a lake. I happen to be watching for the other side at the time and questioned him about later that week, were upon I saw the ticket for having a illegal water craft on the water or at least it was something to that affect.

Psihala 14 September 2013 05:02 AM

Perhaps this classic VW Commercial had something to do with it?

~Psihala

Cervus 14 September 2013 05:17 AM

National Lampoon parodied that ad back in the 70's with "If Ted Kennedy drove a Volkswagen, he'd be president today."

smittykins 14 September 2013 11:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Psihala (Post 1768333)
Perhaps this classic VW Commercial had something to do with it?

~Psihala

I like the disclaimer at the end: "The VW will definitely float, but it will not float indefinitely."

ETA:
Quote:

I have a friend that received at ticket for taking is VW Beetle out onto a lake. I happen to be watching for the other side at the time and questioned him about later that week, were upon I saw the ticket for having a illegal water craft on the water or at least it was something to that affect.
When I was in high school, I read a(now long-out-of-print)book called "The Beetle Book," with a section about a group of people dedicated to racing Bugs in the water; they were specially modified and IIRC, they had be registered as boats.

Zorro 15 September 2013 02:17 AM

I don't know about float, but I do know that if you open both doors at the side entrance of a dorm building and remove the center post, you can drive a bug right into the building and down the dorm hallway.

I had some very interesting people at my college.

thorny locust 15 September 2013 03:26 PM

I also don't know about the floating; but do know that you could drive them through a whole lot more snow than one might think.

They were also, during at least most of their heyday, one of very few cars available in the USA from which a short driver had good visibility.

me, no really 15 September 2013 11:13 PM

From this article, it sounds as though beetles float, but that they need to be better prepared to be truly ocean going

http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...pg=4513,662279

I have heard that some models did in fact have a take off for a marine propellor and a rudder connected to the steering.

There is video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQiS4paC_sk

Roadsterboy 15 September 2013 11:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by me, no really (Post 1768583)
I have heard that some models did in fact have a take off for a marine propellor and a rudder connected to the steering.

Sort of. The Schwimmwagen was an amphibious version of the Kubelwagen, both of which were German military vehicles during WW2. The Schwimmwagen had a propeller that was lowered down from the rear engine lid, and the front wheels acted as the rudders. It was also never available as a civilian model.

The car in the video is clearly non-standard. VW never made civilian amphibious Beetles. You occasionally find videos of people who push Beetles into rivers or ponds and wait for them to sink. They all do, eventually, but they do tend to stay floating longer than you think. The condition of the various seals has something to do with it, I imagine.

Stan The Man 15 September 2013 11:36 PM

With the amount of rust on my old beetle, I don't think it would have floated for long.

me, no really 15 September 2013 11:43 PM

The one in the video was definitely modified. There are some details in the newspaper article - it was sealed better, and had some bilge pumps fitted for one. From memory, this guy made it nearly all the way across Bass Straight before the car sank, but I haven't found articles on that yet, just the ones saying he was about to make the second attempt.

Kermor 16 September 2013 12:20 PM

There was a scene in the movie Castle Keep in which a soldier, who had "commandeered" a Beetle, saved it from the moat in which it had been thrown by his comrades by jumping in it and starting it. The wheels acted like the paddles of a riverboat. I don't know, however, how much was due to the special effects team.

Photo Bob 16 September 2013 01:46 PM

Like Crescent I witnessed a flash flood back in the 70's that sent water through a small creek bed into a parking lot. There was a yellow (funny how you can remember little details like that) VW Beetle that was floating around the flooded parking lot. When the water receded cars were stacked three high at the other end of the lot while the VW was deposited next to the road.

The flash flood was caused by workers trying to drill a tunnel for utilites under the Barge Canal outside Rochester NY. Their calculations wer off by a couple degrees and they breeched the bottom of the canal. On our side the afore mentioned parking lot was the worst of the damage. On the other side of the canal several homes were destroyed.

The only other thing I clearly remember (aside from my father being an ass to the police who had shut down roads in the area) was a young guy looking at a car with two stacked on top of it and crying. His sister had let him take her new car so he could drive to a doctor appointment.

GenYus234 16 September 2013 02:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by crescent (Post 1768324)
I don't know about VW beetles, but the vans seem to float very well.

Richard Hammond of Top Gear would disagree with that. :D

WildaBeast 16 September 2013 04:18 PM

I remember in one of the old Herbie movies (Herbie Goes Bananas, I think), at one point Herbie ends up in the ocean and ends up "swimming" back to land. I wonder if the filmmakers actually used a real VW and took advantage of its ability to float for that scene.

Roadsterboy 16 September 2013 11:28 PM

I vaguely remember reading about that-I think it was one of the stunt Beetles, but they had floats under it, not relying on the car's innate ability to float.

(ETA: I may be thinking of an entirely different film)

Roadsterboy 16 September 2013 11:52 PM

Too late to edit, but apparently the VW that was pushed into the sea in Herbie Goes Bananas was never recovered-it's somewhere off the coast of Baja.

Fowlplay 17 September 2013 05:40 PM

I have a muddled memory of when I was 3 or 4 of riding with my mother in the backseat of our blue bug on a rainy day. She tried to cross through some water that had collected in a low spot in the road and the car started floating. It could have been really bad but luckily a guy in a large truck behind us saw it and used his trucks bumper on the back of the car and pushed us to the other side safely. They are definitely light and will float, but for how long is the main question.

Syllavus 17 September 2013 08:35 PM

I believe there's also a scene where a VW Beetle drives off a pier and floats for a while in the movie "What's Up Doc?" My memory could be messing with me though.

There may also be a floating VW Beetle during "Romancing the Stone" after they drive into a river. I think that one wound up going over a waterfall, so it probably didn't float for long.


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