Car-spotting game

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(Redirected from Punch buggy)

A car-spotting game is one that is played during a car ride, especially a road trip, where occupants of a vehicle compete to be the first to spot a car of a certain description. Many variations exist around the world. The first to call a particular target either scores points which are tracked over the course of the journey, or they earn the right to lightly punch an opponent.

Punch buggy[edit]

A 1972 Volkswagen Beetle
A 2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Punch buggy (also called slug bug[1] or punch dub) is a car-spotting game where players seek Volkswagen Beetles, calling "Punch buggy!" when they do so, in reference to the Beetle's nickname, the Bug.[2] Once a car has been spotted and called out it cannot be used by another player.[2] Traditionally the calling player also gently punches an opponent in the arm,[2] but the game can also be played for points: spotting a Beetle earns the player a point, but making an incorrect call means that they lose a point.[1]

The color of the Beetle is sometimes stated when it is called.[3][1]

In some versions where players punch each other, a player can shout "No punch backs!" after each call. If they forget to do so, they may be immediately punched back by the player that they punched.[1]


Most references about the game originate from unofficial sources and personal accounts from players. It apparently has existed since the Volkswagen's peak popularity in the 1960s.[4]

Volkswagen ran a 2009 advertising campaign calling the game "Punch Dub", with a fictional backstory of its inventor, Sluggy Patterson.[5] The campaign claimed that the game was started "over 50 years ago", though this is a humorous historical fiction created by the ad agency Deutsch Inc.[6]

In 2010, Volkswagen referenced the game in a Super Bowl commercial, with blind musician Stevie Wonder punching comedian Tracy Morgan after "spotting" a red bug.[7]


A New Beetle "slug bug"

Some variations consider the 1998-2010 Beetle and 2011-2019 Beetle invalid for game purposes, but as older models become rarer, variations may choose to include the new Beetles. Others allow "classic" Beetles to count for two punches.[8]

In Brazil, a popular version of the game is played when a blue Volkswagen Beetle is seen. The first individual to notice it has to scream 'Fusca Azul', which stands for 'Blue Beetle', while others close their arms around their breasts and say 'Fechei' (I closed it), and the person who forgets or refuses to say 'Fechei' may have their arm punched as a punishment.[9] A Mexican variant exists, but with yellow Beetles rather than blue ones. It is stated that those rare yellow-colored Beetles could bring good luck.[10]


The lights of a padiddle

Padiddle, alternatively spelled pediddle or perdiddle, is a night driving game where players look for vehicles with a single burnt-out headlight or brake light, the word padiddle being a slang term for such a vehicle. The term popeye is also used, due to it resembling a missing or squinting eye.[citation needed] A car with only one taillight may be called as a padunkle.[11]


The objective is to be the first to spot a qualifying vehicle. The spotter must say "padiddle" to earn one point for a single headlight sighting, and "little dip" to earn 3 points for a single tail light sighting. Players lose 5 points for errant callouts (e.g. motorcycles or two working lights). In some groups, the spotter must simultaneously hit the ceiling of the car or hit the window glass, and in others, punch or kiss another passenger. The person with the highest score at the end of the trip is the winner. In another version, the first person to get to 3 "padiddles" is the winner and gets to make a wish.[12]

In some variants the last member of the car to punch the ceiling loses one article of clothing. Following this style of play, the winner is the last person wearing clothes in the car. This is sometimes played in teams where every member of the losing team must remove an article of clothing.[citation needed]

Qualifying vehicles must be visible through the windshield of the vehicle; "padiddles" seen through a side or rear-view mirror only count for half a point. A motorcycle misidentified as a padiddle is a foul that awards the offender's partner a double hit or kiss. Players can not use their own vehicle as a point.[citation needed]

Fog lights do not count as a padiddle even if used as primary lights. There is no such thing as a double padiddle.[11][13]

Yellow car[edit]

A variant of the game involves spotting any yellow car

A version of the game in Europe involves spotting yellow cars,[1] and it appears in the British radio sitcom Cabin Pressure under the name "yellow car", with no scoring.[14]

In the United States, this game is known as "banana",[citation needed] and in Scandinavia a similar game called gul bil exists.[15] In Finland the game was featured in a comedy sketch from Justimusfilms.[16]

Other targets[edit]

One author suggests similar games with station wagons, convertibles, trucks and buses.[17]

A generic name for the game is car tag.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ferrer, J. J. (1 February 2013). The Art of Stone Skipping and Other Fun Old-Time Games: Stoopball, Jacks, String Games, Coin Flipping, Line Baseball, Jump Rope, and More. Charlesbridge. p. 90. ISBN 978-1-60734-658-6.
  2. ^ a b c Case, Steven L. (2003). Road Rules. Zondervan. pp. 114. ISBN 0-310-25100-1.
  3. ^ Rosen, Michael J. (10 January 1999). My Bug. Artisan. ISBN 978-1-57965-135-0.
  4. ^ "Bug: The Strange Mutations of the World's Most Famous Automobile". WNYC: New York Public Radio. 2007-03-28. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30.
  5. ^ "Volkswagen – Punch Dub". Ad Age. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Volkswagen to Spotlight 'Punch Dub' Game in Super Bowl Ad, Online Campaign Touting Product Family". PR Newswire (Press release). Volkswagen of America. January 28, 2010. Retrieved March 23, 2023.
  7. ^ LunnDT65 (February 8, 2010). "VW Bug Punch Bug 2010 Super Bowl Commerical [sic] w/ Stevie Wonder and Tracy Morgan". YouTube. Retrieved March 21, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Polk, Janet (2006). Rules for Playing Slug Bug and Punch Buggy. AuthorHouse. p. 17. ISBN 1-4259-0229-4.
  9. ^ "Fusca azul - A brincadeira que já deu o que falar, ou melhor, socar" [Blue Beetle – The joke that gives you something to talk about, or rather, to punch]. (in Portuguese). Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  10. ^ "¡Vocho amarillo! ¿Cuál es el origen de este peculiar juego?" [Yellow Vocho! What is the origin of this peculiar game?]. El Universal (in Spanish). Mexico City. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  11. ^ a b O'Sullivan, Joanne (1 April 2008). I Don't Care If We're There Yet: The Backseat Boredom Buster. Lark Books. pp. 32–. ISBN 978-1-57990-848-5.
  12. ^ Wheel, The News (2018-11-29). "The Origin and Meaning of Padiddle, the One-Headlight Car Game". The News Wheel. Retrieved 2021-02-25.
  13. ^ Gladstone, Gary (December 31, 1969). "Padiddle Hunt". Loose Change Memoirs.
  14. ^ "John Finnemore Quotes (Author of Cabin Pressure)". Retrieved 6 September 2022.
  15. ^ "Regler för Gul Bil". Allt du behöver veta om - Gula bilar (in Swedish). 2008-11-19. Retrieved 2023-05-11.
  16. ^ "Keltainen auto" (video). (in Finnish). Justimusfilms. Jul 15, 2010.
  17. ^ Dazzo, Susan (2005). Mom's Guide to Being a Superhero. Fair Winds. p. 133. ISBN 1-59233-116-5.