It’s 2019. Ford no longer makes sedans. You will buy an F150 or a Mustang and you will like it mister. Norway is puttering around with electric Teslas. Millennial types are, for the love of god, SHARING rides with each other. Germs, criminals, eww. And for those people actually buying cars, every other vehicle sold in America these days looks like a rounded off brick, convincing you that you live some sort of Sport Utility life.
Well, see those people in a 1987 Nissan Pathfinder? Yeah, they might be living the sporting life, or maybe delivering meth to a small Colorado enclave, but let’s just go with sporting life. Bro with the Jeep Wrangler Limited in the Bumble Bee livery? Sigh. Ok maybe, but I digress.
It’s July 2019, and the Volkswagen Beetle is dead. Production is ending at its Puebla, Mexico plant this week. That iconic shape will fade, replaced with more “platform based” bricks.
The car has an incredible history, but the short version goes like this. Henry Ford creates a people’s car in America and the assembly process to mass produce it. This guy named Hitler digs the concept and hires Ferdinand Porsche to design him a car for the people. Well, certain people…
Porsche cribs off a few other designs, the car goes into development, then Hitler starts running amok invading everyone and well, slaughtering people. The Allies do not find this cool, invade, bomb the ever living sh*t out of Germany and the VW falls into the ashes of history.
Except, one bomb that hit the factory didn’t go off. The Allies, now in charge of German industry, find the factory and a surviving car and the tooling necessary to make it, and offer it up to the Brits. They decline, saying,
the vehicle does not meet the fundamental technical requirement of a motor-car… it is quite unattractive to the average buyer… To build the car commercially would be a completely uneconomic enterprise….
Probably the same dude that failed to sign the Beatles. Man you Brits and Beetles/Beatles….
Eventually the Brits did get their act together, remove the bomb, repair the factory and start building the car, first as a military vehicle, then for civilian folks.
For a time in the 1960s, the car was immensely popular in the US. Volkswagen eventually sold 21 million Beetles – based on the original car design. Yes they had new models and upgrades, but in the mid-90s Mexican factories were still building a car that looked like its older brother from the 1950s.
VW killed the car in 2003, but then, being the shifty company they are, brought it back and sold another cajillion of the things.
They were fun, they were interesting, they had vases. They were utility vehicles. I will tell you this, if you could name a car you had the MOST fun in in your life – if only for a day or weekend trip – it was probably in a Beetle. (ok maybe a CJ-5 with the floor plugs removed, but still, probably a Beetle)
What? You got your Nissan Murano stuck in sand on a beach and said screw it and built a bonfire and drank beer with friends and walked in the moonlit surf considering how it might be fun to float the Murano in the tide, but you ended up just sleeping under the stars next to your Murano, all right with the world?
No, you didn’t.
So we will slide into car hell, with millions of Uber and Lyft bricks slogging us to and fro as we check our mentions, the entire experience void of joy, while Beetles will rot on side-of-the-highway properties, left to be little more than fodder for playing Punch Bug with your sister, if only she would take the Beats headphones off.
Design, the art of design, influences our lives – through stimulation of our senses, our emotions. A graceful curve, a split rear window, the putter of a clever engine announcing with a little chug that it will get you where you want to go, and when it gets you there it would like to play Frisbee – the Beetle has analog, visual elements that, mostly, make you smile.
How often have you walked toward your Ford Escape hybrid and giggled? How many of you have named your Toyota Rav 4 and hopped in and yelled “here we go ziggy!”, off on a mad adventure? Thought so.
So farewell Beetle, until VW pulls some more crap and brings it back again.
In the meantime, could you guys PLEASE build this? Seriously. Take my money.
*And congrats to Paul McCartney for outliving the car…