After 81 years, it's the end of the road for the Volkswagen Beetle

10 July 2019 - 12:49 By Motoring Reporter
A New Beetle in action.
A New Beetle in action.
Image: VW

Production of the third-generation Beetle will come to a halt this week as the last model rolls off the production line in Puebla, Mexico. It's a sad occasion for Volkswagen fans, as the venerable "Bug" has been with us in various shapes and forms since the late 1930s.

Designed by Ferdinand Porsche to be an attainable motorcar for the masses, the Beetle overcame its somewhat dark origins and helped put Germany back on the industrial map after World War II. Exported all over the world and soon built in other countries, this basic but dependable vehicle became a cultural icon: one particularly (and perhaps most ironically) embraced by the hippy movement that swept across America during the 1960s.

An original air-cooled beetle takes part in the 2019 Mille Miglia.
An original air-cooled beetle takes part in the 2019 Mille Miglia.
Image: VW

German assembly of the original air-cooled Beetle may have ended in 1978, but it carried on being built in Mexico until 2003. In total, 21,529,464 were made, making it one of the best-selling cars the planet has ever known. In an attempt to entice a new generation of buyers (and cash in on the power of nostalgia), Volkswagen released the New Beetle in 1998: a cute and curvy homage to the original that rode atop a modified Golf chassis. In 2012 it was given a refresh with more masculine styling cues and torquey turbocharged engines. 

Sales of the New Beetle were never as high as Volkswagen had hoped and now, following the fallout of Dieselgate and the world's sudden obsession with electric vehicles, it is being relegated to the history books and its production plant re-tooled to build a new SUV for the American market. Still, an innings of 81 years is nothing to be snubbed at. 

Goodbye, little Bug, you will be missed.


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