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Buggin Around in BJ’s Bug

Published in the April 2023 Issue Published online: Apr 09, 2023 Lifestyle Maudie Heard
Viewed 173 time(s)


Photos by R Media, Ryan Raymond

With an adventurous personality and her long lashes blowing in the wind, BJ’s Bug is strutting her stuff around the city.

This Volkswagen Beetle, otherwise known as BJ’s Bug, was destined to be ageless when it was manufactured in 1973.

Early in 2022, BJ Denning took the chance on this 1973 non-running beetle with the hopes of restoring it, a long awaited dream of hers. After many long and exhausting nights, her dream came true and the bug came back to life.

When BJ’s husband found this bug for sale online, she knew it had to be hers. The bug was non-running but in especially good shape for an older vehicle, according to the seller.

“The morning after we brought it home, we started tearing into the engine,” BJ said. “What's wrong with it? What do we need to do?,” were the thoughts rummaging through her mind.

Just 3 days after they brought it home, it was up and running again.

BJ was so excited that she quickly began designing the exterior of the bug. “I was working on the car until 1 or 2 in the morning, designing the vinyl, cutting it out and placing it on,” she said.

Describing herself as a hippie at heart, BJ designed the bug to have the personality of a flower child, advocating for love and peace.

Once the most popular car on the market, the Volkswagen Beetle has long been known for being cute and fun to drive since its first production nearly a century ago. Beetles became a symbol of unity and counterculture as many painted or decorated their dreams onto their car.

As BJ’s canvas, BJ’s Bug got a fresh metallic and pearl coat over the original orange paint of the car. And, what might be mistaken for paint is actually layers of vinyl creating the flower artwork and quotes.

“Some of it is glitter and some is iridescent and there were lots of layers to create those colors,” BJ said.

The many different layers of vinyl came together to create a handful of blooming flowers. Along with the flowers are long lashes on the headlights and peace signs on the tail lights, alongside the short sayings, ‘Don’t Worry Be Happy,’
‘Peace’ and ‘Buggin.’

The inspiration behind BJ’s Bug came from the Waltzing Matilda, a popular VW Beetle. “It's a bug that travels all around the world, so people would take pictures of it and then share them on their Facebook,” BJ explains. “They ended up calling it the Waltzing Matilda because it went everywhere and I thought, ‘Oh, that is my dream.’”

In just the first year that the bug has been up and running again, it has been entered into three car shows. BJ’s Bug was included in the Swap Meet at Tautphaus Park, an annual car show for car enthusiasts, the annual Spud Day Car show and the Great Snake River Idaho Falls Duck Race Car Show.

Though BJ faced some obstacles when it came to repairing the car, she had the support of many. Not only was her husband a huge help, but Deeray’s Auto Body shop in Shelley deserves an honorable mention. “Deeray’s Auto Body shop are the ones who suggested I enter it in the Shelley Spud Days Car Show,” BJ said. “They let us use their shop to paint the car and made room in their shop to store the car overnight before the show.”

The love BJ’s Bug gets is nothing short of extraordinary.

“The most rewarding part for me is the attention she gets,” BJ said. “Once I came out of the store in the Walmart parking lot and there was a post-it note on the windshield that said, ‘We absolutely love your car.’ Two strangers is how they signed it.”

“I love the smile she puts on people’s faces,” BJ said. “It’s a happy car, she makes people happy.”

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