After a lifetime of faithful service, we're saying farewell to the Beetle. This time, VW said, it's for good

2y ago


So do you like the Beetle? Yes, I mean the Beetle, not the Beatles. The little Bug that the lovely chaps at VW have been making for a lifetime. For some reason, it seems to me that the Beetle has always had a bad rap among journalists and media and that's probably because A, many influential journalists panned it more than once and B, it's one of those cars you really can't place.

It's "cute" but so are the Fiat 500 or the Mini, and then it isn't a sportscar, and it isn't a hatch, and it isn't a family car. It's a Beetle. I've driven it once, in 2012, it was a diesel. I don't remember much, to be honest. I remember it was egg yellow and that's about it. Now VW is pulling the plug and for some reason that made me very sad.

Short History of the Beetle

In 1949, the first VW Type 1, as the Beetle was called back then, arrived in New York Harbour and it was a huge commercial success. They sold two that year. We may mock but we shouldn't because this was 1949, remember, so let's just say the Germans and any Germanic product wouldn't really enjoy great PR at the time. In 1950, they sold 328. Ten years later, in 1960, VW imported its 500,000th Beetle in the US. By 1972, more than 15 million Beetles had been sold.

In 1994, at the NAIAS in Detroit, VW introduced a concept car which would later develop into the New Beetle. The car was supposed to go on sale in 1995 but there were issues revolving around its design which is why the car only went on sale in 1997.


It's 2018 now. VW announced in September that they will stop making the Beetle in July 2019 and during the media days at the LAAS, the German giant decided to celebrate its "Bug" with a ceremonial breakfast, during Automobility LA (that's what the press days are called), and with a great "junk food" party (I didn't even know such a thing was... a thing) in Los Angeles. The party was amazing, I was lucky enough to be there and it was a blast. They projected (and I do mean "projected" because a vintage projector was used) Herbie: Fully Loaded, the 2005 film starring Lindsay Lohan and Michael Keaton, on a giant screen at the Goya Studios in Hollywood. Vanessa Hudgens* and Austin Butler were also present. Along with a lot of Beetles. I don't know what it is with this car. The Beetle is one of the best-selling vehicles in history but so are the Toyota Corolla and the Golf and frankly I don't believe anyone would be especially sad to see these two go.

By the way, speaking of Beetles. Bumbleebee, somewhat of a spiritual sequel to both the Transformers and Herbie movies, is out in theaters on December 20. Directed by Travis Knight and starring John Cena, Hailee Steinfeld and Gracie Dzienny; it's the story of a Beetle that's actually, well, a transformer.

Bad quality selfie for my fellow Drivetribers

Bad quality selfie for my fellow Drivetribers

*Separate post with videos and pictures of Hudgens and Butler coming up

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Comments (7)

  • At least Hotwheels is acknowledging this with a lot of recent and upcoming VW releases. I've already got the 1949 Beetle pickup.

      2 years ago
  • Ahhh until they bring out a E beetle in the future, which will most likely happen

      2 years ago
  • I've owned or driven a few of the air cooled Beetles (1969, 1971, 1972 Super and 1974 Super) and they were excellent for what they were. Well made, inexpensive, rugged, durable, cars. We need more of those.

    The "new" Beetle got it almost right. The original shape was a little too "cute". (Really? A bud vase?") Then there was the ridiculously deep dash top caused by the severely raked windshield. That wasted space in a car that was tight on space. The final version with it's chopped roof line and squarer stance is where this car should have started. It actually looks a bit like a custom car.

    It can be argued that making it FWD, effectively a re-skinned Golf, was the bigger problem. There's a level of truth to that. If the prices are close then you were buying the new Beetle solely for looks. It's an old Golf underneath, just less useful than an old Golf.

    The Mini and the 500 pull this off, even though they're far away from their roots. The 500 has the saving grace of the bonkers Abarth. The Mini has different versions of the theme. The Beetle? Coupe, Convertible, and maybe different trims.

      2 years ago
    • The new Mini is nice to drive, and always has been since its return in the early 2000s. The Fiat 500 isn't a great car to drive but it's practical enough to make sense and cool enough to be desirable. The thing with the new Beetle is that it always...

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        2 years ago