ICONIC motor and movie star the Volkswagen Beetle has reached the end of the road after the car’s makers called a halt to its production.
After 80 years, the German company has announced that the last models will roll off the assembly line at its factory in Mexico next July.
Some 21million Beetles have been made since World War Two.
James Moore has revved up 15 fascinating facts about the much-loved “Bug” to mark the end of an era – including how it was saved by the Brits…
IAN WEST/PA WIRE
(Pic: IAN WEST/PA WIRE )
1. The original idea for the Beetle came in the 1930s with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler backing the idea of an affordable “people’s car” – the literal translation of Volkswagen – that could speed German families down the nation’s new autobahns.
2. It was designed by legendary Austrian engineer Ferdinand Porsche, a name better known for luxury fast cars. Originally called the Volkswagen Type 1, the Beetle first got its nickname in the US, thanks to its revolutionary insect-like shape.
3. Production was halted during World War Two but was started up again in 1945 by the occupying British Army – which spotted the motor’s merits and ordered 20,000.
4. Initially dismissed as “quite unattractive to the average buyer”, the car first arrived in the UK in 1952 but soon proved popular. With its rear engine and reliability, it was also very economical to run.
5. In 1955 the millionth car, decorated with gold and rhinestones, was rolled out. By then there were convertible models too – and in the 1970s the Beetle became the bestselling car in history.
6. The Beetle was also famous for its pioneering ads and tagline “Think Small”. It became the biggest-selling foreign-made car in the US and a hit with hippies and surfers.
7. A Beetle featured on the cover of The Beatles’ famous Abbey Road album.
8. The car got an extra boost thanks to a string of Hollywood films featuring Herbie The Love Bug – the No53 racing car with a mind of its own. The most recent movie was Herbie: Fully Loaded in 2005, starring Lindsay Lohan. Beetles also had big roles in horror flick The Shining and Bond movie Quantum Of Solace.
9. Celebrity fans have included model Heidi Klum, actor Ewan MacGregor and DJ Chris Evans. Wayne Rooney was arrested for drink-driving in a VW Beetle owned by party girl Laura Simpson.
10. Domino’s Pizza founder Jim Monaghan traded his half of what would become a multi-million pound business for a used 1959 VW Beetle.
11. Time was called on production of the original Beetle shape in 2003 – having clocked up the longest run of a car ever. By then VW had already started making its retro-style New Beetle.
12. The Guinness record for the most people in a single original Beetle is 20!
13. The Beetle has had different nicknames around the world. In Bolivia it’s dubbed the “Turtle”, in Colombia the “Flea” and in Indonesia the “Frog”.
14. Volkswagen used to award savings bonds to babies born inside a Beetle.
15. VW bosses have not ruled out bringing the car back one day after making final special edition models in 2019. Chief exec Hinrich Woebcken said: “Never say never.