Remembering and Icon as We Say Farewell to the Volkswagen Beetle
There is probably no vehicle known for its shape more than the Volkswagen Beetle. Its iconic curved body is instantly recognizable from blocks away. What once was the best-selling car in the world has been permanently discontinued by VW.
The last Beetle to ever be made rolled off the assembly line in Puebla, Mexico on July 10, 2019. It marks the end of an era for an automobile that spanned more than 8 decades of automotive history. What started out as a project initiated by Adolf Hitler to create a car for ordinary German citizens to drive across the new Autobahn. The concept vehicle was referred to as the “people’s car” or “Volkswagen”.
The very first Volkswagen, officially the Volkswagen Type 1, was presented to Adolf Hitler by the infamous automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche in 1938. By 1939 Word War II was underway so very few Volkswagens were actually produced. The factory was used to produce military vehicles for the war efforts.
By 1945 the war was over and thanks to British military, by 1947 the Volkswagen Type 1 was being put into production for the consumer market. Germans nicknamed it the Käfer (meaning “beetle”), which loosely translates to Bug in English, which is why we have heard it referred to as the Volkswagen Bug or Volkswagen Beetle for decades.
The popularity of the Beetle grew exponentially around the world and at one time was the best-selling car on the planet. It gained massive appeal here in the states during the 1960s, along with the Volkswagen Bus (Volkswagen Type 2), and was beloved especially by those in the hippie movement. It was also immortalized in 1968 as “Herbie” in Disney’s movie “The Love Bug”. By 1971, Volkswagen was producing 1.3 million per year.
By 2002, more the 21 million VW Beetles had been produced. VW announced the end of production in June 2003 due to a major decrease in demand. The last original Type 1 VW Beetle rolled off the same production line in Puebla, Mexico, on July 30, 2003.
It wasn’t really gone however as VW had already released the Volkswagen New Beetle in 1997. This “New” Beetle, while it took most of its inspiration from the original, had one major difference. The engine was moved to the front of the car and truck space given where the rear-engine used to sit.
The New Beetle was nowhere near the success story as the Type 1 and in 2011 it was retired. Volkswagen went back to the drawing board and in 2012 released the Volkswagen Beetle (A5) model. Volkswagen’s primary design goal for the new model was to keep the iconic shape of the original Type 1, yet give it a more aggressive look so it could easily be differentiated from the second-generation model they took out of production.
The rest is history and the final VW A5 just rolled off the production line this week. The automotive plant will still continue to produce Volkswagens, but the ride for the Beetle has come to an end. Don’t be too sad though as millions of Type 1 VW Beetles still exist and are likely to become more and more collectable now that they are no longer making them.
And there is also excitement in the air as Volkswagen is ready to release the new Type 2. That’s right, the VW Bus is back and it’s gonna be all electric. There should be a new model available in 2020.
Until then, feast your eyes on some cool pictures of the Volkswagen bug throughout the years.
Tags: Type 1, Volkswagen, VW Beetle, VW Bug
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