- Originally a project under Hitler to project Nazi prestige, Beetle became truly alive after World War II.
- In 1955, one millionth Beetle had rolled off the assembly line in what is now the city of Wolfsburg.
- The United States became Volkswagen's main foreign market, peaking at 563,522 cars in 1968 or 40% of production.
Frankfurt, Germany – Volkswagen stops the production of the latest version of its Beetle model this week at the factory in Puebla, Mexico. It is the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a story spanning the eight decades since 1
It has been: part of Germany's darkest hours as an unrealized Nazi prestige project. A symbol of Germany's post-war renaissance and rising middle-class prosperity. An example of globalization, sold and recognized worldwide. A symbol of the 1960s counter-culture in the United States Above all, the car remains a landmark in design, as recognizable as the Coca-Cola bottle.
The car's original design – a rounded silhouette with room for four or five, almost vertical windshield and air-cooled rear engine – can be traced back to the Austrian engineer Ferdinand Porsche, who was hired to fulfill the German dictator Adolf Hitler's project for a "people's car" that would spread automatic ownership like Ford Model T had in the United States
The car's aspects bore similarities to the Tatra T97, made in Czechoslovakia in 1937, and to sketches by Hungarian engineer Bela Barenyi published in 1934. Mass production of what was called KdF-Wagen, based on the Nazi acronym Work organization under whose auspices it was to be sold , was canceled due to World War II. Instead, the massive new factory discovered what was then rural east of Hanover, military vehicles, that used forced labor from all over Europe under miserable conditions.
The Volkswagen factory was started as a civil car manufacturer under the supervision of the UK professional authorities. transferred in 1949 to Germany and Lower Saxony, which still owns part of the company. In 1955, the 1 million Beetle – officially called Type 1 – had rolled off the assembly line in what is now the city of Wolfsburg.
The United States became Volkswagen's main foreign market, topped on 563 522 cars in 1968, or 40% of production. Unconventional, sometimes humorous advertising from the agency Doyle Dane Bernbach encouraged car buyers to "think little."
"Unlike in West Germany, where the low price, quality and durability represented a new post-war normality, in the United States, Beetle's properties lent it a deeply unconventional air in a car culture dominated by size and showmanship," wrote Bernhard Rieger in his story in 2013, "People's Car."
The production in Wolfsburg ended in 1978 as newer front drive models that the Gulf took over. But Beetle was not dead yet. Production took place in Mexico from 1967 to 2003 – longer than the car was made in Germany. The nickname "vochito", the car made itself at home as a robust, Mexican-made "carro del pueblo."
The New Beetle – a completely remodeled retro version built on a modified Golf platform – arose from some of the old Beetle's sweet, unconventional aura in 1998 under CEO Ferdinand Piech, grandson of Ferdinand Porsche. In 2012, Beetle's design was made a little slimmer. The latest of 5,961 Final Edition versions are headed for a museum after ceremonies in Puebla on July 10 to mark the end of production.