Bidding Beetle mania over Klinsmann's old car

 
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STUTTGART, July 8 (Reuters) A 39-year-old Volkswagen Beetle that once belonged to Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann is on sale in a frenzied auction and has surpassed the price of another Volkswagen once owned by Pope Benedict sold a year ago.

The blue 1967 VW convertible that Klinsmann drove in 1994 and 1995 while playing at Tottenham Hotspur has jumped from 105,000 euros to over 383,200 dollar in the internet auction eBay.

The car's owner, who lives in the Stuttgart suburb Boeblingen, wants to remain anonymous but has registration papers that includes ''Juergen Klinsmann'' as a previous owner, according to the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper today.

The price for the auction that began on July 1 and runs to Tuesday is well above the 245,000 dollar an internet casino paid last year for a used Volkswagen Golf owned years earlier by Pope Benedict XVI.

''I really couldn't recommend bidding for that car,'' Klinsmann said at recent news conference. ''It was already completely rusty when I got rid of it.'' ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT Klinsmann has said he gave away the car, which was fun to drive as well as being something of an anti-establishment symbol, over 10 years ago when a mechanic told him it was ''kaputt''.

Local newspapers reported that the restored car with a 44-horsepower air-cooled engine had never been involved in a traffic accident since its first registration on Sept. 20, 1967.

They said it had a nominal book value of about 12,000 euros. But the hometown frenzy over the coach who unexpectedly took Germany to the semi-finals before losing to Italy has only grown in recent days and has propelled its value higher.

All of Stuttgart seems to be going berserk over their native son on Saturday ahead of the match for third place between Germany and Portugal on Saturday night.

Local political leaders want to name a street after Klinsmann in the Botang district where he grew up and trained as a baker in his family's shop.

The Stuttgart history museum ''Haus der Geschichte'' is handing out to customers free freshly-baked pretzels from Klinsmann's bakery.

The museum is also offering free admission (normally 4.50 euros) to all those who use the code word: ''Klinsmann''.

REUTERS AY PM1801

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