the longest running and most manufactured car ever made, the VW Beetle has stood the test of time without dramatically changing its look
With production finally ceasing in 2019, we take a look back over the last 80 years of the iconic Beetle.
The first concept of the Beetle was pioneered in Germany and was advertised as 'The Car for Everyone' years before the Volkswagen name became official. It was marketed as the most affordable car yet, so production was set to be high.
But, by the outbreak of WWII in 1939, only a small selection of cars were produced for the everyday, with the rest being altered into off-road military vehicles. As the suspension, engine and general off-road handling were seen as revolutionary at the time, they were perfectly constructed for war environments and soon became a military favourite. Nevertheless, small adjustments were continually being made to ensure the vehicle was as reliable and well-equipped as possible – one being the slowest speed, which was lowered from 5mph to 2.5mph, so the car could tread alongside marching troops.
Post-WWII, the German factory suffered heavy damage, so production was (quite literally) all over the globe! At the time, Ford was offered the Beetle for free, however claimed it wasn't worth anything…oops. So, British Army Officer Major Ivan Hirst saved the day by taking control of the factory, and began mass producing Beetles.
The Beetle debuted at Hanover fair in 1947 and soon became a favourite, with production and market exports seeing turnover increasing year upon year. Although changes were being continually made, there were certain models of the early Beetle which indicated major changes, such as in 1953, where the split rear window was discontinued, or in 1963, where a steel sliding roof was introduced. Within the U.S., it soon became a vehicle often used by hippies, and is still a fan favourite today.
As the Beetle continued to develop, Czechoslovakian car manufacturer Tatra filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen in the 1960s for 'borrowing' features from its newly designed cars. Tatra won the case and as a result Volkswagen's development budget was sizably cut. This ultimately led to the Beetle's extensive production period. Nevertheless, the Beetle’s fame increased further with the introduction of Herbie ‘The Love Bug’ in 1968.
As a result of this extensive period, the car has looked physically very similar since about 1975. However, the last production of this bulbous bug will be in July 2019, this more maybe due to a number of factors such as the auto market moving more towards SUVs and crossover vehicles. As a celebration of the Beetle, VW will introduce two final edition models in both coupe and convertible for the last time. Hinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America says the loss of the Beetle will “evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle's many devoted fans”.
To get your hands on a used VW Beetle while you still can, head over to findandfundmycar.com, and get your Love Bug today.