A REAL-LIFE Herbie and his VW Beetle are set to be parted after more than 22 years and 48,000 miles together.

Herbert Cotton bought his beloved bright orange bug from a neighbour in 1979 and although he has taken it on magical mystery tours all over the country he has managed to clock up just 48,000 miles - fewer than 2,000 a year.

The 81-year-old retired bricklayer said he only ever used to use the car - nicknamed Bert - for pleasure trips to places as far afield as Edinburgh and Cornwall.

He said: "I always walked to work when I was at Sun Paper Mill in Feniscowles and the children were only five minutes from school. My wife was a housewife so we only used the car at the weekend."

Now living in Marlton Road, Blackburn, Herbert was struck by the popular model - which has since become an icon - when a neighbour brought one home to Feniscowles, where he lived at the time.

Herb said: "He was called Mr Aspen and was the first one person in Blackburn to have one. This was his third one and I bought it off him when his wife died. It cost me £750, which was a lot of money in those days. I was only earning the average wage of a tradesman."

After parting with his hard-earned cash, Herb religiously looked after his pride and joy - which survived a number of close scrapes.

A fire at a neighbouring garage about 10 years ago almost spread to where his Beetle was being kept and shortly after thieves took a fancy to his pride and joy.

Herb, a past member of the New East Lancashire VW Club, said: "They got it out of the garage but couldn't drive it because of the crook lock. I was so relieved when I got it back."

Besides two new wings the Beetle is in exactly the same condition it was when he bought it. But now, with much regret, he said it is time to let it go.

His wife Milly recently died and he thinks the time is right for it to go to a new home - which won't be his either of his grandchildren, who are 28 and 20 years old.

He said: "I told them no way because they would end up putting extra wide wheels on it and things like that. Anyway they have their own cars."

Although he doesn't drive any more, Herb said there would be more than a tinge of sadness when he saw his Beetle drive away for the last time.

He said: "I'll miss it. I had some great memories in that car. Milly used to love it and would never let me sell it but the time is right now."

And the price for a pristine piece of ultra-low mileage motoring memorabilia? Just £3,000.

Keith Halliday, service manager for Volkswagen, Walker Farrimonmd, Whalley New Road, Blackburn, said: "It is marvellous to hear that the car is still on the road. It is extremely unusual to have a car of that age with such low mileage. The owner must have taken great care of it. I and my colleague Jim Reed, who is the local secretary of the Volkswagen owners club, would like to see it."