The end of an era has befallen us as another VW Beetle rolled off an assembly line into eternity in Puebla, Mexico. It wasn’t any other Beetle that rolled off, but rather it was the last of its kind. After spending more than 80 years on Earth, the Beetle has come to an end just like all good things do. Very few cars enjoy the amount of affection this one gets; it is after all, an unlikely automotive classic with 20 million units produced and sales totalling more than $23 million.
The car with a smiling face has come a long way. It was originally conceived by Adolf Hitler and designed by Ferdinand Porsche as the ‘people’s car’ to strengthen Nazi Germany’s economy and make the country mobile. Officially called the Type 1, the car instantly became famous for its durability, ease of maintenance, and, well, there’s no other way to put it — cuteness. In the 1960s, the VW Beetle became a cultural sensation. With only two redesigns over its lifetime, which is unheard of in the car industry, the Beetle never lost its charm and personality, starring in movies and even recent TV shows. And further, its fame was solidified when Walt Disney featured the anthropomorphic Beetle in the 1968 film ‘The Love Bug’ as Herbie who made a splash on the California racing circuit. No wonder ‘The Grand Tour’ host James May called the Volkswagen Beetle “the most significant and important car ever made”.
The end of the Beetle is a turning-point for Volkswagen, which now sees its future in electric cars. But for many of us who grew up loving this adorable car, it is with a sense of melancholy to say, “they just don’t make ’em like him anymore”. The final unit of the Beetle, a special- edition model named the Beetle Final Edition, sports a denim blue exterior paint finish and the model won’t be sold, but will be on display at Volkswagen’s museum in the city of Puebla.
According to reports, the freed-up factory space in Mexico will be used to produce a new compact VW SUV intended for the North American market. However, the marquee car company has declined to share further details of the new vehicle. There was a time when it was rare to not see a Volkswagen Beetle on the road; and now it’s rare if you see one.