Four people sweated, slept and otherwise lived in a New Beetle for two weeks in California, each trying to outlast the others for the right to own the car.
Celebrities Tom Cruise and John McEnroe are tooling around in their New Beetles.
Some Volkswagen dealers held New Beetle parades upon receiving their first allocations.
It is all part of the buyer frenzy in America, sparked when the New Beetle went on sale in March.
The hoopla has redefined the term 'halo' car, brought hefty spill-over sales of other Volkswagen models and made VW cool again to many buyers.
But some dealers are taking advantage of the sensation and charging up to $4,000 above the sticker price of the New Beetle, according to various dealers.
'The New Beetle is proving to be a true magnet for the Volkswagen brand, which we needed,' said dealer Steve Lewis of Bob Lewis Volkswagen in San Jose, Calif. 'Our Golf sales have doubled since the New Beetle arrived.'
California dealer Mike Sullivan said: 'It has created the most amazing buzz. There's an energy to it. It's really weird.'
Sullivan puts a New Beetle on a display pad in front of his dealership, Volkswagen Santa Monica. But by most afternoons, he moves it back inside. There are just too many people asking questions of his sales staff.
Dealers have no New Beetle inventory. Instead, they have long waiting lists.
Driving a New Beetle is not for the introvert. Other drivers on the road smile, wave or flash an enthusiastic thumbs up. Park it at a restaurant or grocery store, and the New Beetle attracts the curious, most of them more than willing to offer a story about the original Beetle they once owned.
Sullivan's dealership in Southern California and a Los Angeles radio station sponsored the 'Live In It and Win It' contest that pit four contestants in a New Beetle. Their progress could be monitored on an Internet Web site that generated 10 million hits.
Sullivan has customized several New Beetles, one with red hot-rod flames. The zany designs fit the festive spirit of the New Beetle launch, he said.
Sullivan is trying to keep his waiting list to 30 to 60 days. 'We're cutting it off, discouraging people at that point.'
Sullivan is not worried about the New Beetle's staying power after the hoopla diminishes. 'It's such a good value; I'm not concerned about the legs of this car,' he said. It so far has cut across all demographics, Sullivan added.
And if customers are not buying the New Beetle, they often choose a Passat, Jetta or Golf, he said.
'March was my biggest month in sales and profits,' Sullivan said. 'If it's a Volkswagen, it's cool now.'
Volkswagen sold 2,365 New Beetles in the United States during March, and 4,870 in April. Volks-wagen sales in April of all models were 20,562, its best month in the United States since July 1987.
A New Beetle with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine and a manual transmission has a suggested retail price of $15,700. With a 1.9-liter Turbo Direct Injection engine and a manual transmission, the price is $16,975. Both prices include a $500 destination charge.
Volkswagen's Puebla, Mexico, assembly plant will build about 120,000 New Beetles this year. Production will be increased to 160,000 during the second year. About half of Puebla production is slated for North America, with the other half destined for Europe, mostly to Germany.
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., dealer Casey Gunther at Gunther Volks-wagen said he is sticking to the manufacturer's suggested retail price. He stopped taking New Beetle orders from customers in an effort to 'tone it down' a bit, he said.
'Nobody expected it to be quite as crazy as it has been,' he said. 'It has gone beyond buying a new car.'