Spider Beetle on Calgary's 14 Street will stand again: developer
The iconic sculpture stood outside The Mechanics auto shop for 30 years
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If you've been along 14 Street SW in the past 30 years, it's safe to say that you've seen the spider beetle – and the sculpture's former owner wants to reassure residents it won't be going far.
The metal art sculpture of a 1968 Volkswagen body perched atop six spindly legs became an icon in South Calgary.
It was brought there in 1986 by Tony Mangat, owner of The Mechanics auto repair shop on the corner of 14 Street and 29 Avenue SW.
Mangat retired at the end of 2017, but he said the developer who purchased his property – Certus Development – agreed to repurpose the spider.
"I had thoughts of bringing it out to where I am (in Priddis), but I think the community really enjoyed it over the years so I thought it best if it just stays in the community," said Mangat.
Alice Lam, a property manager with Certus, confirmed that they are going to put the spider beetle on the roof of an existing property on 14 Street, north of its current location.
"We're getting it cleaned up and looking nice," said Lam. "We're not sure of the time frame but it should be a good surprise for the community."
Mangat purchased the sculpture from another garage near 50 Avenue and Macleod Trail.
"I'd been looking at that thing for years, and when they closed down, I purchased it but then I did a whole bunch of modifications to it," said Mangat.
He said it took three flatbed trucks and several welders to move the sculpture.
"It took me almost three days to put it together," he said.
Getting it into place was no easy task, and he said they used a crane to hold it in place while the legs were welded.
Once in place, it wasn't just left alone. Mangat said every year or two he would paint it a new colour and do some basic maintenance to ensure it was standing up to the elements.
Mangat said his businesses advertising budget was essentially zero, thanks to the spider beetle and word-of-mouth referrals.
"It worked really well for us in our business, because everyone in the city knew where it was," he said.
Customers told him of their kids playing punch buggy every time they drove past, and later he had those same kids coming to the business as adults, looking for tune-ups.
Looking back at his career, Mangat said the sculpture was a good investment of his time and energy.
"It was definitely well worth it," he said.