Sunday, February 17, 2008

VW Beetle

On February 17, 1972, the iconic Volkswagen Beetle surpassed Henry Ford's Model T as the most-produced automobile of all time. While there had been a few changes to the car throughout the 30+ years of production, the basic body styling remained unchanged. While almost everyone calls the car a Beetle or a Bug, technically it was not known by that name until the 1968 model came out. Prior to that, it was simply known as the Type 1.

The Volkswagen, with its characteristic rounded top, was designed by Ferdinand Porsche, a name synonymous with elite cars. The Volkswagen, however, was created to be anything but elite; its name is German for "people's car" and was intended as a low-priced, dependable car for the masses. To this end, the Volkswagen was a rousing success.

The car originated in the 1930s in Nazi Germany. It is known that Adolf Hitler was the chief motivational force behind the Volkswagen Beetle, as he had promised them to the masses as part of his rise to power. While World War II forced major production declines for civilian versions, military versions that were produced. It was after World War II that the Volkswagen Beetle began to rise in popularity.

The rise in popularity of the Beetle was phenomenal. By the late 1960s, millions of the cars had been sold with only small changes to the basic chassis.

The success of the Volkswagen Beetle began to decline by the early 1970s. Newer automobiles simply offered more features, increased reliability, and with Japanese imports, a more economical price-tag. By 1978, production had shifted away from Europe and into Brazil and Mexico, where they remained popular and affordable to produce for a number of years. Mexico had the distinction of producing the last Volkswagen Beetle in 2003. It was the 21,529,464th Beetle produced and was immediately sent to the Volkswagen Museum in Germany.

The Caribbean island country of Nevis (pronounced nee-vis) is well-known for the topical stamps that they produce. In 1984 they produced a set of classic car stamps, on which the Volkswagen Beetle was honored. These stamps can be found on your favorite auction website for an affordable price.

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