The 'people's car', designed by Ferdinand Porche in 1938, a curvy, affordable, practical and reliable car built in Germany. The Type 1, as it was known had a rear, air cooled engine and borrowed design elements from an earlier Porche car - the type 12 and several models from the Czechoslavakia automaker Tatra.
In 1946, following the war, the factory was put under British control and by the end of that year more than 10,000 cars were manufactured. A decade later, one million had been sold.
In 1959, under the supervision of William Bernback of the New York advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB), copywriters Julian Koenig and Helmut Krone created the now legendary 'Think small' ad for Volkswagen with a tiny Beetle in a plane of white space. "Maybe we got so big because we thought small," the ad touted. Forty years later, Ad Age named it the best advertising campaign of the 20th century.
The Type 1 was officially given the name 'Beetle' in 1968, (from 'der Kafer,' German for beetle, which was used in brochures). That year, Disney released the first of six movies featuring Herbie the Love Bug, an anthropomorphic 1963 Beetle with a racing style number 53 on the hood. In 2018, one of the cars used in the 1977 movie Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo and 1982's Herbie Goes Bananas set a record for a Beetle at auction, selling at Barret-Jackson for $128,700.
In 1971 Volkswagen introduced a premium model know as the Super Beetle. The car had a new front suspension and more trunk space - under the hood. The next year, on Febrary 17, 1972, Beetle No. 15,007,034 rolled off the assembly line, surpassing the record held by the Ford Model T for four decades as the best selling car in the world.
In 1998, after 60 years, VW gave the car its first major update with lines that recalled the Type 1 on what was basically a Volkswagon Golf platform. The car came with a 115-hp 2.0 litre, four cylinder engine, and in a nod to its flower power roots, the dashboard had a small vase. The following year, Mike Myers drove this version in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me known as 'The Shag Mobile'.
With sales having declined since 2013, Volkwagen announced that the Beetle had reached the end of the line in 2018. The last two models, the Final Edition SE (starting at $25,995) and the Final Edition SEL (beginning at $29,995) - both available as convertibles.
So is it really the last ride for the beloved Bug? 'Never say never.'
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