The Love Bug is the fifth film in the series. It is often incorrectly considered a remake of the first film as it has the same name.
The film opens with flashbacks from the first film, with Jim Douglas telling us about what Herbie was like when he new him. We then cut to Simon Moore III, who is driving a very ill Herbie in a race. When Herbie finishes last, Simon orders Rupert to take him to the junkyard.
Meanwhile, at Chuck's Garage, Chuck talks racing driver-turned mechanic Hank Cooper into entering the Big Fix Off (a competition where mechanics choose cars from a junkyard and race them round a track.) Whilst there, Roddy talks Hank into choosing Herbie. He fixes him up and then races him against all the other cars round the track, unexpectedly winning.
On the way out, Hank meets Alex (one of the judges, as well as Hank's ex-girlfriend) who requests that Hank drive her around to confirm she was not imagining the wheely Herbie started with. During the ride, Herbie takes off and almost drives over the edge of a cliff. In an attempt to get Hank and Alex back together, he stops there and locks the doors on them. It is then revealed that Hank decided to end his relationship with Alex because "all [she] could talk about was racing," and that when Alex was talking about racing, she was trying to appeal to Hank.
When Hank returns to Chuck's Garage, Chuck shows Hank that his entrance into the Big Fix Off attracted many more customers. He also tells Hank that when Danny called to ask Hank if he wanted to join his racing team, Chuck turned him down. This angers Hank, who recieves an unexpected visit from Alex that night. Roddy tells them both that the Volkswagen's name is Herbie and that he is alive, but an outraged Hank thinks of Herbie as nothing more than a regular Volkswagen Beetle.
When Hank and Alex visit the Vehiculart show, they discover that Roddy has taken Herbie with him. Simon then arrives to look at Herbie and try to see why he is so extraordinary now, but wasn't when he owned him. Whilst there, he steals the key out of the ignition, just before being kicked out by Hank. As Simon is leaving, he insults Herbie, who hits him in the face with is hood. When he recovers, he sees a plate under Herbie's hood that reads "Herbie der Volkswagen, von Dr. Gustav Stumpfel in 1963 gebaut." Before leaving the premises, Simon tells Rupert to go to Germany and bring Dr. Stumpfel back to America. Rupert explains to Simon that he lives in Pomona, and so he just took him straight to see Simon.
Dr. Stumpfel tells Simon about how he created Herbie, explaining that the American Army had requested a living car, so Dr. Stupmfel got to work. During the process, he accidentally knocked a photo of his beloved wife into the mix. He believes that his love for her went into the mix with the photo, "making it possible to create a living car." He decided to hide it from the American military, telling them he had failed to build the car they had asked for. After hearing this story, Simon requests that Dr. Stumpfel creates car for him. But behind his back, Simon sneaks a few photos of himself into the mix, making the car evil.
Hank, after refusing to believe Herbie's inner personality exists, leaves Chuck's garage for a while, returning to discover that Herbie is missing. It is at this point that he realises that Herbie is a living car, and goes out looking for him. He finds Herbie on the side of the road, dying as a result of getting destroyed by Simon's car.
Jim goes to Herbie's funeral with Dr. Gustav Stumpfel, where it is suggested that Herbie is rebuilt. Simon finds out about this, telling Hank that he wishes to challenge him to a duelling race, where "the winner takes home both cars to do what he wants."
At the scene of the race, it is revealed that Simon's car's name is Horace, and that Simon has given him three features;
1. A drill which he uses to bust Herbie's tire,
2. Grenades which are fired out of the back of the car,
3. A laser beam which he uses to cut Herbie in half.
During the race, Herbie is a victim for two out of three of these (he is missed by the grenades). He has to have his tire repaired by Roddy, and, after being cut in half, finishes first and third.
In a fit of rage, Horace attempts once more to kill Herbie, missing him and driving over the edge of a cliff. On impact, he puts a hole in the ground and explodes. Simon and Rupert are then arrested by a pair of police officers.
In the final scene of the film, Herbie has been repaired, Hank has married Alex and the leave for their honeymoon before the screen fades to black and the credits scroll.
- Stock footage from The Love Bug (1969) is used during the opening scene.
- As this movie was made 17 years after the release of Herbie Goes Bananas (the previous film), Herbie's appearance differs as there were different people working for Disney at that time.
- To date, this is the only Herbie film to feature a car antagonist.
- The final race was filmed on a short schedule which would explain its many goofs.
- This film contains some similar scenes to the first film such as; Herbie trying to get an angry couple together by locking them inside the car, Herbie running away (although the reason differs), Herbie getting divided into two parts during the last race enabling him to finish first and third, the quote "I don't know. Herb hasn't told us yet" is reused, and Herbie taking the recently married couple away on their honeymoon at the end of the film.
- In the race scene, Herbie loses two hub caps, but finishes with all hup caps on.
- During the final race when Herbie and Horace "trade paint" both cars are dented up a bit, but afterwords the both cars are fine.
- In some scenes in the duel race Herbies front bumper isn't straight.
- At the end of the duelling race, Alex takes off her helmet twice.