of the Bugs
VW Beetle: Out with the Old, in with the New?
winter and my hands, against the steering wheel, are turning blue.
Most of the other cars overtake me, including several brightly coloured
new beetles. The Empi sticker on my glove box that reads WARNING
DO NOT OPEN WINDOWS AT SPEEDS IN EXCESS OF 120 MPH catches
my eye and I laugh. My car is freezing, noisy and slow but its
got soul and Im having the time of my life driving it.
car that was born out of Hitlers dream for standardisation
ironically became the car of choice for the rebellious post-war
generation. Shedding its Nazi roots the bug came to symbolise freedom
and fitted in nicely the Doors and cheesecloth of the 60s.
Surfing on this wave of bug nostalgia VW decided to release a new
Beetle, but does niche marketing and retro styling live up to the
legacy the old bug left behind?
the new Beetle does resemble a more modern version of the original but
inside its somewhat lacking in character and resembles the Golf
far too closely. If VW wanted to recreate the spirit of the old bug
they should have kept the characteristics that make old beetles so appealing.
Putting the engine in the front was a dire move as was dropping the
air-cooled system I mean, what would Herbie say?
One of the reasons the original beetles have remained so popular is
that they are still available and restorable at reasonable prices. The
Volkswagen Beetle was conceived in the early 1930s and Volkswagen
literally means "peoples car" in German. These cars
were created as a cheap, durable standard car for the German family
and there was nothing exclusive about them. Luckily, as so many old
Beetles were sold parts are still in ample supply today, so the restoration
and nostalgia market for old bugs will continue to boom.
new Beetle however, retailing between £11,295 and £18,265,
is no cheap option in the UK. This weighty pricing excludes many
people, which is a great shame as part of the appeal of old bugs
is that they can be picked up cheaply and restored to their former
glory on a reasonable budget with plenty of TLC.
the end of the real Beetle era, the last old style beetle was produced
On July 30th in Puebla, Mexico. The decision to stop production from
the last Beetle-producing factory came about as sales almost halved
from 2000 to 2002 to 24,500 cars. A mariachi band that fittingly played
"El Rey", meaning "The King", serenaded the last
bug, baby blue in colour and number 21,529,464. Oddly, Volkswagen set
themselves the extremely modest sales target of 100,000 in its first
year, for the new Beetle, which of course they exceeded. But still,
does this live up to the expectations of the subcompact economy car
that won a permanent place in peoples hearts and, outrageously,
outsold Henry Fords immortal Model T? I think not.
Long live the (old) Beetle!
© Rachel D'Cruz December 2003
Mountain Boarder Rachel D'Cruze
all rights reserved