VW Beetle production ends today

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by N8, Jul 30, 2003.

  1. N8

    N8 This fucking guy.

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2001
    Messages:
    45,500
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Canada
    http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=428881

    Herbie rides no more: the Beetle finally reaches the end of the line
    Conceived as the 'people's car' by Hitler, it became the most popular model in history - but production of the classic VW Beetle ends today


    By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
    30 July 2003

    It has been a long time coming, but the Volkswagen Beetle is finally heading for extinction.

    The bug-shaped vehicle began life as a "people's car" in Hitler's Germany, became a symbol of the Love Generation in the 1960s and faded into retirement as an affordable means of transport in the Third World. But today, the last old-style Beetle will roll off the production line in Puebla, Mexico - the last factory in the world where it is still made - bringing to a bitter-sweet end a remarkable 58 years of continuous production.

    More than 21 million Beetles were turned out in that time, making it the most popular car in history. A new 1990s design, based on the Volkswagen Golf, is being sold in Europe and North America, but hundreds of thousands of the classic version are still on the roads in the Third World - in Mexico alone there are still 500,000.

    In richer countries there remains a large army of Beetle fans, still restoring the cramped, noisy runabout with its flat windscreen and folding seats, and exchanging memories on the internet. For them it was always more than just a mode of transport; it was a cultural icon and a reminder of a headier, more carefree, less traffic-clogged past.

    Commercial production at the Puebla plant ceased a couple of weeks ago. Since then, the factory has turned out 3,000 special-edition models in sky blue and beige, for sale to collectors at slightly more than the usual $7,500 (£4,600) price tag. The very last Beetle will be sent to Volkswagen's headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

    VW is wallowing in as much Beetle nostalgia as it can muster, issuing souvenir piggy banks, ashtrays and candles. It has also revived a toy version of Herbie, which starred in a series of Disney movies back in the 1960s and 1970s. In truth, the end of the Beetle has been expected for some time. In the United States, the car was phased out as long ago as 1977 because its air-cooled, unconventionally placed rear engine fell foul of new safety and environmental regulations and the company preferred to withdraw it from the market than redesign it back to front. It disappeared from the European market at much the same time.

    Slowly it has vanished even in the poorer parts of the world. In Brazil, one of its most successful markets, it was phased out in 1996. It lived on in Mexico largely because it was the vehicle of choice for Mexico City's taxis. The green-and-white vochos became ubiquitous. But they were not without their problems. Aside from environmental concerns in one of the world's most polluted cities, they also developed a reputation as a kidnapping liability. It became too easy for kidnappers and street robbers to block off the two doors, making it impossible for passengers to escape. Mexico City's civic authorities recently decreed that from now on taxis must have four doors.

    For a long time, the Beetle's survival in the Third World was because of a time warp that free trade agreements are now conspiring to tear away. In Mexico, the arrival of new, cheap models such as the Ford Fiesta, the Fiat Uno-sized Palio and a rush of models from Japan knocked down sales of the Beetle from about 50,000 in 2000 to 24,500 last year.

    The hard economic realities made little impact on Beetle fans, for whom the car will forever be associated with such heroic moments as a daring escape into West Berlin in the 1960s - where an East German hid inside a modified bonnet - or the time when a Beetle fitted with a sail cruised across New York harbour.

    The nostalgia is not entirely justified by the car's history, which has its roots in Nazi Germany. It was conceived by Adolf Hitler himself as a "people's car", cheap enough to endear the dictator to the German working classes. He commissioned Ferdinand Porsche to design it. "It is with bitter feelings that we see millions of honest, hard-working and capable men, whose opportunities in life are already limited, cut off from the use of a vehicle, which would be a source of yet-unknown happiness to them,'' Hitler said at the 1934 Berlin Motor Show.

    The Beetle never got beyond the prototype stage before the outbreak of war, but a military version, the Kubelwagen, nevertheless went into production.

    These first Beetles - including an amphibious version - were built with slave labour, something that remains an embarrassing blot on VW's historical record. As the war ended, those same labourers kept turning out Beetles to keep themselves from starvation. After 1945 the Beetle factory was offered to Ford, the British Rootes Group and Peugeot, who all rejected it. A British Army major, Ivan Hirst, helped secure the future of the car with an order of 20,000 for the Allied armed forces. A German executive with General Motors called Heinz Nordhoff was appointed to run Wolfsburg in 1947. He didn't like the Beetle much, but recognised its commercial value. For many years, it was the only car that VW produced.

    At first, the Beetle became a symbol of the Wirtschaftswunder, the "miracle" that transformed West Germany's economy in the 1950s. Then, together with the Austin Mini and the Fiat 500, it helped spearhead the sexual revolution, thanks to its handiness for courting teenage couples. In the United States, it is still remembered as the "Love Bug".

    Its heyday began to wane in the early 1970s, when VW produced the first of its highly successful Golfs. The 1973 oil crisis, economic recession and the environmental movement all played their part in pushing the Beetle towards its slow demise. Production in Germany ended in 1978, but not before the Beetle had spawned the VW camper van, the pretty Karmann coupé and, of course, the Porsche sports car.

    Workers previously assigned to the old Beetle at Puebla will now switch to the new model, as well as other VW vehicles.

    :hs:
     
  2. stonedworm

    stonedworm mofo in a supra

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2001
    Messages:
    28,045
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC
    so are they still making the newer style ones?
     
  3. N8

    N8 This fucking guy.

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2001
    Messages:
    45,500
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Canada
    Yeah, but this is the end of the line for the classic Beetles. :sad2:
     
  4. JayYay

    JayYay New Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2003
    Messages:
    2,711
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Los Angeles

    yes....... unfortunatly
     
  5. stonedworm

    stonedworm mofo in a supra

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2001
    Messages:
    28,045
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC

    Thats what i thought... i didnt even know you could still buy the old classic ones......
     
  6. The Bossman

    The Bossman Everybody should believe in something. I believe I

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2000
    Messages:
    3,944
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Orange, CA
  7. jillilicious

    jillilicious New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2003
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    kzoo
    thats the color my baby was when i had him
     
  8. 72SSAbody

    72SSAbody Guest

    What a sad day.
     
  9. diesel

    diesel Guest

    imagine having the very LAST one ever made... money!!
     
  10. Jackanapes

    Jackanapes turbodirectinjection OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Messages:
    6,404
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Fear and loathing in Garland, Texas
  11. pimp

    pimp semperfidelis.com

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2000
    Messages:
    30,304
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Location: Location: Location:
    nazimobiles

    god riddance
     
  12. XO

    XO bee a honey

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2001
    Messages:
    37,086
    Likes Received:
    51
    Location:
    Not*Cal
    i see new 'classic' ones down in mexico all the time. i think they still make the ford bronco too.
     
  13. EE CUMMINGS

    EE CUMMINGS aka RobHuang

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2001
    Messages:
    56,493
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    LA, CA
    yay!

    lets celebrate!
     
  14. GT40

    GT40 lol

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2001
    Messages:
    12,184
    Likes Received:
    0
    hmm where can you buy those? well where could you buy them now...
     
  15. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2000
    Messages:
    137,235
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Island of Electronicus
    Air-cooled VWs were some of the greatest cars on earth. Really.
     
  16. HisXLNC

    HisXLNC ๑۩۞۩๑ Hot ๑۩۞۩๑

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2000
    Messages:
    137,235
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Island of Electronicus

    They still make B13 Sentras too.
     
  17. b20civic

    b20civic skateboarding is not a crime

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2000
    Messages:
    23,029
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    608 wisconsin
  18. Jago

    Jago It helps if you hit it.

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2000
    Messages:
    27,965
    Likes Received:
    0
  19. The Bossman

    The Bossman Everybody should believe in something. I believe I

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2000
    Messages:
    3,944
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Orange, CA
    They might be Nazimobiles but you japanese friends that made the ledgend were allies with the Nazi's at one time :fawk:
     
  20. pimp

    pimp semperfidelis.com

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2000
    Messages:
    30,304
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Location: Location: Location:
    Japanese friends?


    where?
     
  21. d0nk3ypunch

    d0nk3ypunch New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2002
    Messages:
    6,635
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Austin TX
    :cool:
     
  22. RenaultFreak

    RenaultFreak OMG

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2002
    Messages:
    88,686
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    CCS, VE
  23. RDB

    RDB Blinded By Subpar Modulators

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2001
    Messages:
    52,494
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Maine
    you can buy them in mexico and south america, good luck ever getting back in the US...
     
  24. RenaultFreak

    RenaultFreak OMG

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2002
    Messages:
    88,686
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    CCS, VE
    read the article, production ends in mexico.
     
  25. hondaluva

    hondaluva likes free hugs...

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2001
    Messages:
    76,210
    Likes Received:
    1
    really???

    wait... is the B13 is the 91-94 ones???
     

Share This Page