Luxury lineage: A brief history of the Volkswagen Beetle

By Michael Solomon | Forbes

fter 80 years, the long and winding road is coming to the end for the Beetle. Volkswagen announced this week that it will end production of the iconic car in 2019.

The Beetle was originally commissioned in the 1930s by Adolf Hitler as the “people’s car” (or volks wagen in German). Designed by Ferdinand Porsche, the curvy car was affordable, practical and reliable. Three decades later, the “Bug” (as it was affectionately known) became a symbol of the 1960s and the “small is beautiful” ethos.

Germany stopped producing Beetles in the late 1970s, but in 1998 Volkswagen rolled out the New Beetle, which was meant to be a visual flashback to the original Type 1 design but was essentially a VW Golf. Another variation was introduced in 2012, but sales have been steadily declining—down to around 15,000 last year from some 43,000 in 2013—so now the Bug will be squashed.

To pay tribute to the car that helped make Volkswagen the world’s largest automaker, VW will release two last models, the Final Edition SE and the Final Edition SEL. Until then, here’s a look back at Beetle-mania…

A 1939 Volkswagen Type 1 convertible, with Ferdinand Porsche in the back seat./PHOTO BY LIBRARY OF CONGRESS/CORBIS/VCG VIA GETTY IMAGES


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