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Maggie Peyton is the new owner of Number 53--the free wheelin' Volkswagen bug with a mind of its own; she puts the car through its paces on the road to becoming a NASCAR competitor. As a third-generation member of a NASCAR family, racing is in Maggie Peyton's blood, but her overprotective father Ray Peyton Sr. forbids her to pursue her dream. When Ray Sr. offers Maggie a car as a college-graduation present, he takes her to a junkyard to choose one from an assortment of very used cars. Maggie has her eye on an old Nissan, but a certain rusty, banged-up '63 VW Bug seems to be clamoring for her attention. To her surprise, Maggie leaves the lot with Herbie. As she prepares to leave town for a position with ESPN News, Maggie discovers that Herbie has a mind of his own--and an alternate route for her future.