It’s your last chance to own a brand new VW Beetle! The 2019 “Final Edition” marks the end of production for this 80-year-old iconic model as it steers towards its line of all-electric vehicles.
autobahn-performance.com looks back in time and recounts some of the significant milestones of the Beetle along with some lesser known facts.
1938 – The First VW Beetle
You may be astonished to learn that the first Beetle, known as the Type 1, was commissioned by none other than Adolf Hitler. Volkswagen, founded in Wolfsburg, Germany in 1937, was owned by the German government and originally named “Volkswagenwerk” which translates to “The People’s Car Company.”
The Type 1 rolled off the assembly line in 1938 and has had many nicknames over the years, Käfer (Beetle in German), Beetle, Bug, and many others throughout the world. One nickname it could have garnered but never did was that of its designer, the Austrian automotive engineer, Ferdinand Porsche (yes, the founder of the Porsche car company).
1949 – The Beetle Comes to America
It was on January 8, 1949, that the first Beetle arrived in the port of New York. That year sales of the German manufactured car reached 2 in the US.
It was the following year, 1950, that the Beetle gained some traction in the US with 328 vehicles sold.
In 1955, the 1 millionth Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line.
1959 – “Think Small” Beetle Advertising Campaign
The New York advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) created and launched the now legendary “Think small” ad campaign for Volkswagen (with a tiny Beetle in a plane of white space). As a result, Beetle sales take off.
The campaign was named “the best advertising campaign of the 20th century” by Ad Age. Read more at adage.com/article/special-report-the-advertising-century/ad-age-advertising-century-top-100-campaigns/140918
1960s – The Beetle Is The Top Seller
The 1960s saw the Volkswagen Beetle become the top-selling foreign-made vehicle in the United States.
1968 – The Type 1 Is Now The Beetle
Until 1968, this vehicle was known and marketed as the Type 1, at which time, the name was officially changed to the Volkswagen Beetle in all of its North American advertising campaigns.
Also in 1968, The feature film “The Love Bug” starring Herbie – a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle – was released at the cost of $5 million and grossed $51 million at the box office.
The success of the production spawned 4 more feature films, a five-episode television series, and a made-for-television comedy adventure film, not to mention all of the accompanying merchandising.
In 2015, the Beetle that starred as Herbie went to auction and sold at Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach auction for $126,000 then, three years later at the same auction, it sold for $128,700 making it the world’s most valuable VW Beetle for a second time.
1971 – The Super Beetle
It was in 1971 that Volkswagen introduced the Super Beetle and the Super Beetle convertible. The new model was equipped with new front suspension and more trunk space (still located under the hood).
1972 – The Beetle Sets A Record
It was on February 17, 1972, that Beetle # 15,007,034 rolled off the assembly line and into the history books, surpassing the previous record held by the Ford Model T for 40 years as the best-selling car worldwide.
1977 and 1979 – The End of US Production
5 years after shattering the Model T’s record, 1977 marked the last model-year of Volkswagen first-generation Beetle sedan sales in the United States.
Then, 1979 saw the end of convertible Beetle production in the US.
1998 – The New Beetle Comes to Market
Volkswagen (after 60 years) finally gave the Beetle its first update. Basically mounted on the Volkswagen Golf platform, the car retained lines that recalled the Type 1, and was now equipped with a 115 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a small vase mounted on the dashboard (flower-power).
1999 – Car of The Century Competition
It was in the 1999 Car of the Century competition (to determine the world’s most influential car of the 20th century) that Volkswagen’s Type 1 placed fourth, following the Ford Model T, the Mini, and the Citroën DS.
2011 and 2012 – Redesigned and Convertible
The Beetle underwent its third redesign in 2011, giving birth to the third-generation beetle. In 2012, Volkswagen launched the Beetle Convertible and offered 50s, 60s, and 70s tribute models.
2018 – Volkswagen Squashes the Bug
Amidst 5 years of declining sales, Volkswagen made the announcement that it would pull the plug on the Beetle. The two final models; the Final Edition SE and the Final Edition SEL are also available as convertibles.
While Volkswagen is exterminating the Beetle, it continues to innovate and produce electric vehicles with cutting edge technology. Read more at autobahn-performance.com/audi-vw/new-q4-e-tron-all-electric-affordable-suv/
If you believe this to indeed be the end of the line for the beloved Beetle, know that Hinrich J. Woebcken, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said in his September 13, 2018 announcement, “Never say never.”
With 21,529,464 produced worldwide, the Beetle is the longest-running and most-manufactured vehicle of a single platform ever made.
Watch this video to see the VW Final Edition Beetle SE and SEL.
Volkswagen Calls it Quits for The Beetle
The summer of 2019 marks the end of production for the legendary and record-setting Volkswagen Beetle.
In this article, you discovered the rich and storied timeline of the most-manufactured single platform vehicle ever made, the Volkswagen Beetle.
If you’re in the market for a Beetle, don’t delay, this may be your last opportunity to own a brand new one.