Its paintwork made it extremely difficult to miss in a crowded car park but it was also very difficult to live with.
Even getting inside was a pain. I think it must have had the heaviest doors in the world, but at least I got a free work-out. After struggling with the doors, I got to exercise my left leg because the clutch pedal was mounted so high. But my visit to the Volkswagen gymnasium did not end there. Once seated, I was called upon to wrestle with the heavy, elastic- band covered steering wheel.
In the summer, I could finish my work-out with a sauna. By the time I got out of the Beetle the plastic seats were so hot my clothes were absolutely dripping wet.
Not only was it a pain to drive, it could also play nasty tricks on me. On one occasion the exhaust blew up without warning and I should think most of Greater London could hear the bang.
Several times, I used the Beetle as an excuse for being late for work. I can remember coming to a halt in the middle of the Hammersmith flyover - which wasn't fun. I did motor maintenance at school and I reckon I understand how engines work. However, the Beetle's little air-cooled unit is a very baffling affair.
I didn't embarrass myself by looking at the spare wheel under the bonnet. But that oil-encrusted lump in the boot defied all my attempts to start it. Thank heavens for the AA!
It was slow, difficult to drive and utterly unreliable, but I still loved it for its character. I can even remember the registration - ABO 95K. We all called it "Little Abo".
But that didn't stop me from taking it back to the family home in Rutland, where I left it to rust away quietly. My mother eventually made me sell it and it went to a great home. A Beetle enthusiast turned up and promised to restore it and, as far as I know, it is still going strong. I'd never consider another Beetle. The new one looks the part but it's too slick. Unlike "Little Abo".
Julia Bradbury has just finished a stint on the BBC's `National Lottery'. She is a presenter for the BBC's `Top Gear' and `Top Gear Water World'. She also currently presents `Backstage' for BBC Choice. She was speaking to James RuppertReuse content