ohn! Paul! George! Ringo! VW! Yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen, there's a new Beetle on the block. Another wave of "Beetlemania" is sweeping the country, only this time it's of the recently-remodeled Volkswagen variety. This funky icon of the '60s is back. If you can get one, that is.

With the average wait anywhere from two to six months, bug lovers are buggin' out. Except for the lucky few who've managed to slide into the driver's seat.

"I ordered my car in February and picked it up on May 15," says Kathy Brady, a grad student at the U. of Wisconsin, Whitewater, who has dubbed her lovebug "Bert." "I almost went berserk waiting for mine, and I really didn't have that long to wait. But it [the wait] is a reality, and the car is really worth waiting for. It's adorable and pudgy and folks just want to hug it."

Other Beetle fans haven't been so lucky. The factory is rushing to fill the thousands of orders, producing about 1,000 cars a day. If you believe that patience is a virtue, a $500 deposit will get you on a waiting list, which ranges from 20 to 150 Beetlemaniacs, depending on dealership and location.

So while the rest of America jumps on the bandwagon, students are experiencing mixed feelings of amusement and sticker-shock. "If I had the $17,000 to spend, I probably wouldn't choose a Beetle - but they're pretty cute," says Reagan Humber, a sophomore at Wake Forest U. "If I got one, it would be for the novelty only. It's definitely not a very practical car, but hey, it's got a bud vase!" (One of the "hippie" Beetle features that survived remodeling.)

That extra feature might be a plus for some students, but finances and patience are playing a bigger role in their car-buying decisions. Annelle Austero, a sophomore at the College of Charleston, S.C., likes the new bug, but can't stand the wait. "I actually think people want them because they enjoy watching people hit each other in a bug's presence," she says. "You know, that ‘punch-buggy' game."

As far as moolah is concerned, "it's not really a lot of car for what you're paying," says Lindsey Sutton, a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, of the $15,200 base price.

But if you have the cash, not to mention a way to tool around town while you wait for the little bugger, you might be in for the ride of your life. And a healthy dose of Fahrvergnugen .

By Kelly Murdoch-Kitt, Wake Forest U.

" they (New Beetles) are hard to get. For most dealerships in this area, if you ordered one in July, you might have to wait until as late as February next year."

"...this car is a great value for the money. I paid $17,500 for mine...Base price is $15,200 and all include air, alarm and tape deck as standard equipment."

"Sure, Ford still advertises their Escort at under $10,000, but when you compare what you get, there's really no comparison. Also, no small car has beat the NB (New Beetle) in safety tests..."

"The waiting list is annoying.."

"The appearance of the car is, in the words of almost everyone who's looked at it, 'really cute.'

"When people are seeing it for the first time, they just have to smile. The first week I drove it on the Interstate I noticed people ahead of me were slowing down and I couldn't figure out what was going on. Then I realized that they were "capturing" Bert [the NB] in their rear view mirrors!...Harley drivers seem really fond of the cars, too."

"I think it's going to be a great student car...after more become available--especially on the used market--and when dealers stop charging more than list price for the cars. Some have been tacking as much as $3000 on the car!"

"I spend 11/2 hours a day in my car, so...what I drive is really important."

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