The 21st Century Beetle was unveiled to the world on April 18th, 2011 on MTV. With that said, we at Lewisville Volkswagen, decided to a blog series dedicated to the iconic Beetle. The Bug. The Love Bug. Slug Bug. Herbie. Whatever you call it, we will cover it! We will cover the history, the newer versions, fun facts, and of course an in depth breakdown of the all new 21st Century Beetle! Enjoy.
It’s hard to think of too many vehicles that have become as much of a part of the American car culture as the Beetle. Its profile is instantly recognizable (think about it…a five-year-old kid can recognize a Beetle when he sees one), millions have been sold over the last sixty years, and the Beetle was even a movie star back in the Sixties. So…let’s have a quick look at the history of the Volkswagen Beetle.
The Volkswagen Beetle story began in the years before WWII as designer Ferdinand Porsche took inspiration from the Czech-built Tatra 570, which also featured an air-cooled rear engine, rear wheel drive and an aerodynamic body. Development stopped, of course, during WWII although elements of the VW design were put to use in German military vehicles. After the war, the Beetle was almost over with before it began, though, when the British military had to remove an unexploded Allied bomb that was lodged in some irreplaceable factory equipment at the VW plant!
For American drivers, it all started in ’49, when the Beetle (aka the Type 1) hit US shores with a puny 25-horsepower engine. In six years’ time, a million Beetles had been built worldwide. Rather than mess with success, Volkswagen changed the car very slowly and incrementally over the years, keeping it functional, simple and economical. The changes that came along in the sixties (such as independent rear suspension, 12-volt electrical system, larger, more powerful engines and ball-joint front suspension) were necessary and well-planned, keeping the Beetle in pace with the times.
The car’s success defied conventions, with the tiny Beetle up against the huge, heavy, chromed-up cars from Detroit. Volkswagen’s ad campaign also ran counter to Detroit conventional wisdom, practically poking fun at the car itself – and those 1960s VW ads are still studied in advertising courses as a groundbreaking marketing strategy. The Beetle continued to be made in South America and Mexico all the way up to 2003, ending a 58-year production run for a car that had been used as a taxi, family car, hippie ride, dragster, dune buggy and even a police car. But the mystique of the humble Beetle lived on, and the Volkswagen team was kicking around ideas for a new Beetle before the old one was even out of production…so, they tinkered again!
In our next blog post, we will cover the next generations that you see today on the road of the Volkswagen Beetle. Of course, if you want to know more, you can always see one at Lewisville Volkswagen, your Dallas Volkswagen dealership, by coming in for a test drive, or taking a look at our inventory, today!