#ByeByeBeetle: paying tribute to the Bug
Last November I travelled to LA for the Auto Show and while I was having coffee at the Convention Center I was given a notepad, the usual array of leaflets, the schedule for the show and a small booklet which read "Bye Bye Beetle". I had no idea what that meant but I quickly found out when I checked the schedule for the show and noticed there were going to be two separate events to celebrate the last hurrah of the VW Beetle because production was due to cease in 2019. That made me quite sad.
The VW Beetle, originally named Type 1, started out in life as a simple vehicle to motorize the masses. It was originally called the 1100 and it entered production in 1945 and introduced to America the same year. The first convertible Beetle was introduced in 1949. The original Beetle was equipped with a 1100 cc H4 engine making 25 hp and it would reach a top speed of around 100 kph. Then the war ended and speed limits on the Autobahn were increased thus prompting VW to increase its power output. In 1972, the production of car no. 15,007,034 made the Beetle the most produced car design ever, surpassing the Model T and by 2003, when VW announced the end of production, over 21 million Beetles had been sold.
In 1997, while the original Beetle was still in production, VW decided to launch a modern version of their iconic car called the "New Beetle". It was a bigger, more modern version of the Bug and while it was technically marketed and sold as a Segment C car (compact / hatchbacks) the New Beetle was one of a kind. It was based on the PQ34 VW platform, the same platform that had been utilized for the Golf and it was available with several engine choices including a rather flamboyant 3.2 L V6 with 222 hp. In 2011, VW introduced the A5 Beetle, the successor of the New Beetle and the last of the breed. The Final Edition, which is available in Safari Uni Beige and Stonewashed Blue to pay hommage to the original Beetle, marks the end of an era.
The Beetle has been epitomized and fictionalized on hundreds of occasions. Dylan Dog drives a white convertible Beetle, the Beetle was the protagonist of films like Happy Gilmore, The Love Bug, Bumblebee and of course Herbie.
Over the years it has been called many names: Käfer, Vocho, Fusca, Maggiolino. It is one of the best-selling vehicles ever and one of the most important cars in history but in the end, I think we're going to miss it because there aren't that many cars that we all, collectively as car people, feel connected with. And the Beetle is one of them.