Jim Douglas was the first known owner of Herbie and the longest person to have possession of Herbie.
Jim Douglas 1

Jim racing Herbie

The Love BugEdit

Jim Douglas was introduced in The Love Bug (1969) as a down-on-his-luck racer competing against "racers half his age". Jim lived in an old firehouse overlooking San Francisco with his best friend Tennessee Steinmetz, often retelling the story of his trip to a mountaintop in Tibet. Jim first met Carole Bennet when he walked by Thorndyke's Showroom, and was then introduced to the pompous and snobbish Peter Thorndyke himself. Jim intended to buy the Thorndyke Special but was turned away by Thorndyke after discovering Jim was looking to buy "cheap, honest transportation". Jim was about to leave when a pearl white VW Beetle rolled into the showroom only to be unnecessarily insulted and abused by Thorndyke. Jim defended the little car and left, only to be unknowingly followed home by the Bug. The car was discovered by police the next morning, parked outside Jim's house, and believed to be stolen by Jim. Thorndyke was considering pressing charges against Douglas for grand theft but after a heated argument between the two Carole decided to make an arrangement that allowed Jim to buy the car and pay off the money in small amounts month-by-month. Jim used the car as small time transportation for a very short time until furiously returning to Carole and Thorndyke after discovering the little Bug had a tendency to completely and impossibly move around on its own accord. Carole, feeling some responsibility, offers to drive the car to prove that Jim merely exaggerated his problems. Upon letting Jim take over the driving, they were challenged by a couple in a hot rod, Jim refused but the car revealed its immense speed and won the race; this inspired Jim to enter the Bug into racing. Tennessee then named the car Herbie after his own Uncle Herb, a boxer whose broken nose greatly resembled the hood of a 63' VW Beetle. Now equipped with his iconic number "53" and his red, white and blue racing stripes, Herbie and Jim won many races, the first of which was witnessed by Thorndyke per Carole's request, and gained media attention in the process. Thorndyke soon became obsessed with the car, even going so far to sabotage Herbie with Irish coffee to win against him. That evening, Jim returns home in a new Lamborghini 400GT by means of a replacement car, having agreed to sell Herbie back to Thorndyke to pay the remaining installments he owes on it. He is then met with criticism by Carole (who stopped by to see Jim earlier that evening) and Tennessee. Jim then discovers Herbie smashing his new Lamborghini out of jealousy, proving to Jim once and for all that he was indeed alive. By the time Thorndyke arrives to collect Herbie, the Volkswagen is nowhere to be found, and Jim sets off into the night hoping to find Herbie and make amends before the car is seized by Thorndyke's goons. After narrowly escaping being torn apart in Thorndyke's workshop, and a destructive spree through Chinatown, Herbie is about to launch himself off the Golden Gate Bridge when Jim reaches him. In his attempt to stop Herbie from driving off the bridge, Jim himself nearly falls into the water. Herbie pulls Jim back to safety, but then is impounded by the San Francisco Police Department. There, Tang Wu, (Benson Fong) a Chinese businessman whose store was damaged during Herbie's rampage, demands compensation that Jim can no longer afford. Using the Chinese he learned while in Tibet, Tennessee tries to reason with Wu, and learns that he is a huge racing fan who knows all about Jim and Herbie's exploits. Wu is willing to drop the charges in exchange for becoming Herbie's new owner. Jim agrees to this, as long as Wu allows him to race the car in the El Dorado. If Jim wins, Wu will be able to keep the prize money but has to sell Herbie back for a dollar. Wu replies to this proposal in clear English: 'Now you speak my language!'.

The El Dorado runs through the Sierra Nevada mountains from Yosemite Valley to Virginia City and back. Before the start of the race, Thorndyke persuades Mr. Wu to make a wager with him on its outcome. Thorndyke (with his assistant Havershaw acting as co-driver) pulls every trick in the book to ensure he and his Thorndyke Special are leading at end of the first leg of the race. As a result of Thorndyke's shenanigans, Jim (with Carole and Tennessee as co-drivers) limps home last with Herbie missing two wheels and having to use a wagon wheel to get to the finish line. Despite Tennessee's best efforts, it looks as if Herbie will be unable to start the return leg of the race the following morning. Thorndyke then arrives and claims that this makes him the new owner of the car. Wu regretfully tells Jim of the wager and that in accordance with its terms this is true. Thorndyke, thinking he is Herbie's new owner, gloats to Jim about what he's going to do to Herbie and kicks Herbies front fender, but Herbie then unexpectedly lurches into life and chases Thorndyke from the scene, showing he is more than willing to race on. Thanks to some ingenious shortcuts, Jim is able to make up for lost time in the second leg and is neck and neck with Thorndyke as they approach the finish line. In the ensuing dogfight, Herbie's hastily welded-together body splits in two. The back half of the car (carrying Tennessee and the engine) crosses the line just ahead of Thorndyke, while the front (carrying Jim and Carole) rolls over the line just behind, meaning Herbie takes both first and third place.

In accordance with the terms of the wager, Mr. Wu takes over Thorndyke's car dealership (hiring Tennessee as his assistant), while Thorndyke and Havershaw are relegated to lowly mechanics. Meanwhile, a fully repaired Herbie chauffeurs the newlywed Jim and Carole away on their honeymoon.

Herbie Rides AgainEdit

Jim Douglas does not appear in Herbie Rides Again. His absence was explained by Mrs. Steinmetz, Tennessee's aunt, that he had gone to Europe to try his luck racing foreign cars, explaining why Herbie is in her care now.

Herbie Goes To Monte CarloEdit

Jim Douglas returns in the 3rd installment of The Love Bug series. It's unknown whether he and Carole got married to be his first wife, divorced or separated after he came to Europe to drive foreign cars (which is mentioned in Herbie Rides Again), but it's never mentioned whether they are still together or not. Jim, his mechanic Wheely Applegate, and Herbie start racing in France. Herbie falls in love with a Lancia Montecarlo, which also has a mind of it's own, driven by a female driver, Diane Darcy, who thinks that Jim is trying to show off and get her attention. Jim tells her about Herbie, but she doesn't seem to believe him at first.

Jim competes in several races up until the Trans-France race from Paris to Monte Carlo, where his biggest rival in the race is the German driver, Bruno von Stickle. Jim and Herbie are way ahead of him until they spot Diane and her car in the river off the road. They rescue her from the river along with her car and they get back in the race. Herbie has trouble trying to get past Bruno until they enter a tunnel on the home stretch to Monte Carlo, where Herbie rides on the walls of the tunnel and gets in front of Stickle and they end up beating him in the race. Later that night, Jim and Diane have a dinner date and Herbie and Diane's Lancia do the same.

The Love Bug (1997)Edit

Jim Douglas returns for a small scenes in the 1997 Love Bug film. After Herbie's "death" from his evil counterpart Horace, Jim returns along with Herbie's original builder Dr. Gustav Stumpfel at Herbie's memorial. Jim tells Hank Cooper (Herbie's owner in this film) that Herbie can be rebuilt as long as the existing parts from the original are used. Hank does so but when the time comes to see if Herbie has regained his sentience, Hank lacks a key to start the car. Jim supplies Hank with his own spare key and is given the honour to start up Herbie one last time, after Jim asks "Herbie?" the little car responds with a few cheerful beeps, confirming he is alive once more.

Herbie: Fully LoadedEdit

Jim is neither seen nor mentioned in the film but an anonymous note left in Herbie's glove box may have been left by Jim Douglas.


"You don't understand what happens, do you? They make ten thousand cars, they make them exactly the same way, and one or two of 'em turn out to be something special. Nobody knows why."

"Without a real car, I'm only half a man."

"It just bugs me to see somebody abuse a decent piece of machinery"

(After returning a malfunctioning Herbie back to Thorndyke and Carole) "I don't know how you rigged it, but I'm sure that car is a real cut-up when a convention comes to town. If I wanted a trick car I'd have bought one in a joke shop!"


- Jim Douglas was portrayed by Dean Jones in all of his film appearances. He died on September 1st 2015 aged 83 years old.