Kathleen Brooks purchased her first Volkswagen Beetle in December of 1966. Collecting a red 1967 model from Riverside, California, the Bug was affectionately dubbed ‘Annie’ by all those who sailed in her.
A true enthusiast, Kathleen used Annie as daily transportation for 51 years, racking up an impressive 350,000 miles – enough the circle the globe no less than 14 times. Brooks, now aged 73, still drives Annie the Volkswagen to work.
Brooks works with breast-cancer patients and survivors to provide comfort and cosmetic care during treatment and recovery. A three-time breast cancer survivor herself, Brooks says Annie was a constant conversation starter, but also “always there for me.”
Upon hearing about Kathleen’s special relationship with her Bug, Volkswagen of North America insisted on undertaking an unusual project – restoring Annie at the home of American Beetle production in VW’s Mexican Puebla factory.
Over the last year, a team of some 60 Volkswagen employees and apprentices reworked Kathleen’s Beetle and restored it back to factory-quality specifications. Several custom touches were also added to celebrate Kathleen’s dedication.
The separation between Brooks and her Beetle had proved a testing time, but this week the pair were reunited. Meeting the team who resorted her beloved Annie, Kathleen conversed with key members of the Volkswagen technicians who led Annie’s restoration to thank them for their efforts.
"We often hear stories of dedicated Volkswagen owners, but there was something special about Kathleen and Annie that we felt we needed to honor," said Derrick Hatami, executive vice president, sales and marketing, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "The original Beetle launched our business in the United States. This isn’t just a Beetle, it’s a member of her family, and after all the time our employees have spent with this special vehicle, we feel Annie is a part of our family as well."
"I’ve said many times she and I are so much alike because she’s old, she’s faded, she’s dinged, she’s dented, she’s rusted, but you know what? She keeps running," explained Brooks with a laugh. "And as long as I take as good care of her as I can, she’s going to continue to run."