The Volkswagen Beetle began production in 1983, and was produced right up until 2003. This is an impressive 65 years of production, which has seen a total of 21.5million Beetles having rolled off the production lines worldwide. It featured a rear air cooled engine feeding power to the rear wheels, and was designed for sustained high speed on the German Autobahns, and thanks to this extremely robust design featuring high build quality it ultimately became the longest-running and most-produced automobile of a single design in the entire world.
The original brief was to produce a cheap, economical and reliable car for the working class. Adolf Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche were the two men responsible for kick starting the birth of the Volkswagen Beetle, and it went on to become a true classic thanks to its legendary reliability with an almost unbreakable gearbox, and both its unique shape and the unmistakable sound of its air cooled engine.
Like the Mini and the Citroën 2CV, the Beetle has become representative of the swinging sixties, and will always be associated with hippies and surfers thanks to its unique and alternative design. The beetle went on to become a classic car and has been made infamous thanks to its numerous appearances in Hollywood films, where most famously it starred as Herbie in the Love Bug, which also had a spin-off comedy series which ran from 1968 through to 2005. It was also made famous as the Autobot Bumblebee who took the form of a yellow Beetle in the popular Transformers series.
Strangely, in 1998 the Beetle was re-engineered and re-released, 4 years before the original Beetle ceased production! Unfortunately perhaps it shares little with its predecessor other than its name and its appearance, and as such has lost almost all of its charm. The new Beetle is essentially a modern VW Golf chassis with all the added features you would expect of a modern car. It’s certainly safer, easier to live with and more comfortable than the original, but the character of the original Beetle made it a true classic car.