Last Volkswagen Beetle drives into the sunset, Americas News & Top Stories

Darnell Taylor
July 11, 2019

There aren't many things beloved both by hippies and Nazis.

For the first time in eight-decades, the Volkswagen Beetle is out of production. Above all, the auto remains a landmark in design, as recognizable as the Coca-Cola bottle.

The original "people's wagon" - designed by Ferdinand Porsche in the 1930s on the orders of Adolf Hitler - survived its associations with the Third Reich in the years after World War II to become a counterculture classic. By the time manufacture of that first model wrapped up in Mexico in 2003, more than 21 million Beetles had spread around the world.

Re-launched as a civilian carmaker under supervision of the British occupation authorities, the Volkswagen factory was transferred in 1949 to the Germany government and the state of Lower Saxony, which still owns part of the company.

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With its funky design and cheap price, the vehicle became a success story over subsequent decades and was one of the top-selling models of all time as well as the best-selling import in the United States in the 1960s, according to auto publications. Unconventional, sometimes humorous advertising from agency Doyle Dane Bernbach urged auto buyers to "Think small". The latest model was based on the Golf platform and had the engine transversely mounted at the front. But the Beetle wasn't dead yet. Nicknamed the "vochito", the vehicle made itself at home as a rugged, Mexican-made carro del pueblo. In 2012, the Beetle's design was made a bit sleeker.

However, a Volkswagen spokesperson said that production of the third-generation Beetle will continue into next week, before the facility is retooled to replace it with a subcompact SUV aimed at the North American market. The company will celebrate the Beetle's discontinuation with a ceremony at the factory.

Volkswagen rolled the last Beetle off the assembly line on Wednesday (July 10), the end of the road for a vehicle that ran from Nazi Germany through hippie counterculture but failed to navigate a swerve in consumer tastes toward SUVs.

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