R.I.P. Luv Bug

New York Times: Last Volkswagen Beetle Drives Into the Sunset

PUEBLA, Mexico — Volkswagen rolled the last Beetle off the assembly line on Wednesday, the end of the road for a car that ran from Nazi Germany through hippie counterculture but failed to navigate a swerve in consumer tastes toward SUVs.

Serenaded by a mariachi band and surrounded by proud factory workers, the final units of the retro, rounded compact were celebrated at a VW plant in Mexico’s central Puebla state more than 80 years after the model was introduced in Germany.

The Puebla factory, which already produces VW’s Tiguan SUV, will make the Tarek SUV in place of the Beetle starting in late 2020, Volkswagen de Mexico Chief Executive Steffen Reiche said. The bigger vehicles are more popular in the United States, the main export market for the Mexico factory.

The last Beetles will be sold on Amazon.com in a move symbolizing the company’s embrace of the future, Reiche said.

[…]

In the 1960s, the Beetle was a small-is-beautiful icon of the postwar Baby Boom generation. The 1968 movie “The Love Bug,” which featured a zany anthropomorphic vehicle, stoked Beetle fever.

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35 thoughts on “R.I.P. Luv Bug”

  1. I’ve had a fair lifetime of a love affair with Volkswagen. Began in 1963 when LV (my dad) bought a brand new ‘63 beetle.   The car had an odd light creamy green/beige paint job with a off-white interior. I’ve only seen a couple that color since. It was I believe that was the last year that there was actually a valve to regulate the heat in the car. I loved that car. Dad only kept it a couple years. My HS football coach had a black ‘53 split window beetle that was cool as hell. Later on, in 1974 I bought a 1964 beetle – blue with black interior. At that point dad had a ‘68 Ghia coupe that was tan with a white top and interior – gorgeous car that I claimed dibs on if he ever sold it, but he sold it to someone after he bent the front bumper and a fender in an accident. I’ve almost forgiven him. After that I had a series of Volkswagens that included a couple of buses, 1968 and 1973, a ‘74 Karman Ghia convertible – orange with black top and interior – and then a couple of Jettas. I’ve driven the Audi variants since then, but they are just well dressed VWs.  But they ain’t Beetles. It’s the end of an era I tell you. Sniff. 

  2. When Rick and I got married, he had a red ’72 Beetle.  He loved the damn thing….   me…  not so much.  The heater rarely worked and I can remember many a cold winter day trying to scrape the windshield inside while driving.  Sometimes he had to stick his arm out the window to scrape the outer side too.  After a few years I had enough and we bought a new Toyota Corolla.  He stills talks about that car with affection and I’m not sure he’s quite forgiven me yet for talking him into another car.

    and patd….  don’t fret about the lack of commenting.  It’s summertime…  this happens every year.  I really appreciate you keeping this place going.  And once Labor Day rolls by…  we’ll be into the heavy swing of the political season.

  3. Just imagine all the future generations of children who will no longer have an excuse to sock their parents while yelling, “PUNCH BUG!!”

     

  4. Oh, it occurred to me that a slew of my friends and two of my girlfriends in the ’74-’76 years s also had beetles. One introduced me to the engineering oversight that led to dropped #3 cylinder exhaust valves. 

  5. renee, thanks for reminding me that summer takes its toll on the trail.  fretting tho’ is my middle name.

    here’s something to bring back fond memories for you   🙂

  6. Listening to the thunder outside reminded me that Louisiana better batten down the hatches – or get the hell out – just to be safe.  HUGE rainmaker will pound it for the next 3 days if NWS is right.  

  7. pogo, not so fond memory was the day my brand spanking new ’68 bug with the just come out highback seats got its passenger side seat burgled while parked at a shopping center in tampa fl.   had to drive all the way home to clearwater with my passenger in the back seat.   those easy to slip out seats caused quite a crime wave back then.

    or was it the drivers’ seat and I had to drive from the back seat or on a box??? horrible memory probably caused brain block. took more than a week to get replacement.

  8. While researching my Movies of a Lifetime series I came across this delightful quote:

    “A world full of ignorant people is too dangerous to live in.” – Born Yesterday

     

  9. pat, yeah I heard of others who had seats stolen (probably by owners of pre-68 beetles – they weren’t nice enough to be stolen for other cars).  Never happened to me – the only post 68 VWs I had were acquired in the 70s after seat stealing was no longer going on.  
     

  10. The internecine struggles among Dem candidates is beginning to be reflected in the polls – RCP lists these things .  Look at the Emerson polls from 6/25 and 7/9.  It isn’t Biden who’s taking the biggest hits although he’s been damaged.  What’s happened is SFB is benefiting.  Hello.  My opinion – if you can’t win on your policies and record and you think you can by slicing and dicing the other candidates, just STFU.  You’re helping to re-elect SFB.

  11. We had a 63 Bug  –very controversial at the time.   A lot of people in the Jewish community boycotted German made produces — cars included, typewriters and cameras/

  12. patd….  yeah….   that’s the one good thing about those old Beetles…   they were great in snow.  We live on top of a hill…  and I remember so many cars getting stuck half way up.  With our Beetle…  we went up it and around all those stuck cars.  Those were the days before front or all wheel drive.

  13. I liked the bug, but never owned one. A couple of friends did but when the time came, they switched to other brands. They wanted more oomph off the starting line. 0-30 in a day and a half wasn’t good enough. One said that he’d often started up when the light turned green, wondering if it would turn amber before he got to the other side of the street.
     

  14. Sweetie owned a bug when I met her. To operate the heater one had to crawl UNDER the car to switch it on. Then the heat was on whenever the engine was running. In the spring one had to crawl UNDER the car to switch it off again otherwise, in warm weather, one would die of the heat. 

  15. X-R,  who cares about not being able to scratch-off at 50mph when one considers the 50  miles+ per gallon fuel savings of the bug.    the oil industry hated them about as much as they hated and did in the electric cars, passenger trains and city streetcars 

  16. “if you can’t win on your policies and record and you think you can by slicing and dicing the other candidates, just STFU.  You’re helping to re-elect SFB.”

     

    pogo, spot on.    that also goes for ms AOC.   am beginning to suspect, like Bernie did in 2016, she’s trying her best to get trump elected too.  

    moles within the dem ranks.

  17. wasn’t it bannon’s big idea to stir up racial animus?  AOC seems to be using the same play book.  as an example from the hill:

    […]

    The tweet that provoked Pelosi, from Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, has since been deleted.

    It described the centrist Democrats to “new Southern Democrats” that “certainly seem hell bent to do black and brown people today what the old Southern Democrats did in the 40s.”

    Pelosi said that members had taken offense at the tweet and asked her to address it.

    A senior Democratic aide associated with the Blue Dog Coalition pushed back against Ocasio-Cortez’s comments about Pelosi on Thursday.

     
    “Let’s not forget the fact that Rep. Ocasio Cortez’s chief of staff called a group of members racist. This is a group of members led by an immigrant woman of color, and this group includes several other people of color, including two black men who actually experienced the segregated South,” the aide said.

    [continues]

  18. When the first new bugs came to America, Mr Cracker worked in the art dept of a big publishing house in LA
    a colleague got one and kept bragging about the great mileage blah blah blah so he and couple of other guys started adding gas — just a little everyday (remember no gas gauge)    and of course that brought on even more bragging and then they starting siphoning gas.   Great consternation.  They did eventually tell him.

  19. Ms Pat, my fiat 850 Idromat got better mileage than a VW bug, when it was running . . . which was on blue moons in months that begin with the letter R. On mornings when the temp was between 50F and 65F, and the wind was from the west. If it wasn’t raining. The windshield wipers drew a lot of power from the transmission.

    It was certainly a conversation piece. It belonged on a coffee table or a console tv. Or as a planter in the front yard.

  20. Best gas mileage I ever got with a Beetle (Or KG on the same platform) was 33 mpg – on a trip from Maine to FL.  In town and in mixed driving I got around 27-28.  And really, XR, they weren’t THAT slow – at least not after the 1200 cc engine was introduced, and the 1300 in the KG was downright quick – OK, maybe quicker than the 1200 (which engine was in the 1st 2 beetles Dad & I had).  But the 1500 that was introduced in 1967 (for the ’68 Beetle I believe) was a a fairly respectable engine, but it had to be because of the extra weight of the ’68 that came with the safety adn HP robbing emission requirements that were introduced in the US.  The 1600 (intro’ed in the US Beetle in 1970) was a good engine – it became the standard for all those VW based dune buggies and kit cars, and with some carburetion and exhaust enhancements was a blast to drive.  It was also the power plant for the Porsche 912. Here’s an article from Wiki on the VW air cooled engine.
     
    LOL about the Fiat 850 Indromat (is that the same as the Adria?)  Before I got my ’64 Beetle I had a 1966 Fiat 850 Sport Coupe (fancy name for a fastback).  I loved that car, but you are right – they were pieces of shit.  (But they were faster than Beetles even though the engine was a bunch smaller).  Damn thing had an aluminum head to save weight – and if you EVER overheated it and blew the head gasket (I did), you could fix the overheating and get the head planed and put a new head gasket and head bolts in, but the head would warp forever after, and you’d have to either resign yourself to rough running at low RPMs or pull & plane the head and replace the head gasket and head bolts, and wait for it to happen again.  I became very good at doing the head pull shuffle.  XR, you’ll enjoy this – oh, and don’t dis Beetle acceleration. http://opentrack.blogspot.com/2012/04/slowest-car-in-world-1968-fiat-850.html

    KC, I hear that about the backlash against German cars – I had a friend whose dad was an Army photographer in WWII in the Pacific theater, and he absolutely refused to consider buying a Japanese car when they started importing them in the 60s.  One of the girls in our HS class was a model of sorts.  She was gorgeous and she was only 5’0″ and probably weighed 90# at best.  When the first dealership n Bham started carrying Hondas – they were the N600s – the dealer’s marketing department made commercials for the car and had her as the eye candy – presumably because she made the car look bigger than it was.  Incidentally she was the cheerleader who got thrown into the air and caught by the others, being as small and light as she was.
     

  21. Defending the border and ferreting out non-citizens  makes deplorable people like Trump

  22. KC, the Fiat 850 probably isn’t all that bad in the winter although I didn’t get to give mine much of a test in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa for obvious reasons.  It is light (1600 # more or less and has dinky tires – 13″ x 4.5″) but it is a rear engine transaxle car with a 4 speed manual gearbox, and independent suspension so what weight there is sits over the rear wheels, which can move with what’s under each of them – kinda like a Beetle.  And I can speak to how well a Beetle gets around in the snow – and can smile about it.  

  23. A thread without this song…  which everyone said sounded like a Volkswagen… just wouldn’t be complete…

  24. My 850 had those head gasket problems Mr Pogo describes. 50 miles and another leaking gasket. 
    If the car was parked with the engine protected from the wind, it would start well in the winter. The wheels were tiny, as Mr P explained, so the snow clearance was tiny. Fortunately, it was tiny, light, and I could almost always push it out of snow drifts I got hung up of. Of all the all the cars I’ve owned, the 850 was simplest and the most fun to drive. 
    Re the VWs, it was my friends, who were owners of pre-gas gauge vehicles. On was split window. When I met Sweetie, she owned a banana yellow beetle w/1600 cc engine. It wasn’t bad, the pick up was much better than the old 1200cc, but the seasonal re-setting of the heater opening was still a pain in the ass. 
    Sweetie eventually bought a little 1200 cc Honda Civic. It was the second most fun car to drive, but it was very dependable. I loved it. Love. Love is good.

  25. AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY CYNICAL
    Today trump folded like the Italian Army on the matter of the US Census.
    Of course, it was all just a stunt to keep his racist/religious bigot supporters on the reservation and excited enough to send more money. Now these suckers have another defeat to resent. Resentment is their version of happy – they love it; it’s like mother’s milk to them.

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