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Bertie Beetle: Rallying on a string and a prayer

  • Aged Bug fourth string for VW in Wales Rally
  • Geriatric challenger takes on hot-shot Polos…
  • …one of which it passed on the ’15 Welsh Rally
BERTIE BEETLE: The aged Beetle racing in the 2015 World Rally championship in Wales in 2015. Image: Newspress
BERTIE BEETLE IN ACTION AT 57: The aged Beetle racing in the 2015 World Rally championship in Wales in 2015. Image: Newspress

CARDIFF, Wales – VW Motorsport’s three pace-setting Polo WRC entries will be gunning for outright glory on the 2016 Wales Rally GB (Oct 27-30) but spare a thought for the fourth VW on the star-studded entry list.

Lining up with Sébastien Ogier and all the sport’s other supercars will be plucky Bob Beales and his 58-year-old Bertie Beetle!

Yes, that’s 58 years old! And while the venerable orange Bug with its roped-down bonnet is no ordinary rally car it, like many approaching pensionable age, it has a colourful history.

RAMPING OFF: Bertie Beetle at the start of the 2015 Wales Rally. Image: Newspress
RAMPING OFF: Bertie Beetle at the start of the 2015 Wales Rally during which he passed one of the factory VW’s. Image: Newspress

Bertie was born back in 1958 and early in his life was owned by a Hereford, England, taxi company during which time he suffered a skirmish with a bus and, somehow, a more damaging roll.


The repaired car was then rally-prepared by legendary VW specialist Bill Bengry in the early 1960’s before being acquired by Beales a few years later. Beales said: “I was a lucky boy to get my hands on the car – it’s been a dream machine ever since.”

He competed extensively in rallies, autotests and even autocross before putting Bertie into storage but in more recent years the Beetle has been given a new lease on life – including many historic events.

Even the Monte Carlo Rally way back in 1990.

To mark the 25th anniversary of that adventure Beales entered Bertie in the 2015 WRGB National Rally and – despite the best efforts of storm Abigail – won his class, a feat he’ll now trying to emulate two-and-a-half decades later.

Beales added: “Competing in Wales Rally GB in 2015 was a brilliant experience. It was very hard on the old car and the weather made tougher – there was lots of aquaplaning – but that’s what makes it such a great event.

“It’s a monumental challenge.”


Beales admits he has great interest in the successes of the VW factory team and is ultra-impressed by its all-conquering Polo R World Rally cars.

“The technology in those cars is just brilliant, although I’m not sure if I’d be man enough to give one a go. That said, I actually passed one of the Polos on the November 2015 event when Jari-Matti Latvala got stuck in a ditch – that would have made a great photo!

“I reminded Jari-Matti about it when I saw him at Goodwood earlier this year (2016) and he remembered seeing Bertie going past – it’s one of those cars you just can’t forget!”

The Corner says: “Go for it Bob – and, of course, Bertie!”

ALL ROPED DOWN: Not quite high-tech but Bertie did pass on of VW's top rally cars a year ago. Image: Newspress
ALL ROPED DOWN: Not quite high-tech – in fact you could say Bertie was racing on a string and  a prayer in 2015 – but he did pass on of VW’s top rally carsin Wales a year ago. Image: Newspress

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