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From Nazis to hippies: End of the road for Volkswagen Beetle

Updated : 2019-07-09 20:55:12

Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model this week at its plant in Puebla, Mexico. It's the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning the eight decades since 1938. It has been: a part of Germany's darkest hours as a never-realized Nazi prestige project. A symbol of Germany's postwar economic renaissance and rising middle-class prosperity. An example of globalization, sold and recognized all over the world. An emblem of the 1960s counterculture in the United States. Above all, the car remains a landmark in design, as recognizable as the Coca-Cola bottle.The car's original design — a rounded silhouette with seating for four or five, nearly vertical windshield and the air-cooled engine in the rear — can be traced back to Austrian engineer Ferdinand Porsche, who was hired to fulfill German dictator Adolf Hitler's project for a "people's car" that would spread auto ownership the way the Ford Model T had in the US.

In this Dec. 18, 1977 file photo, a Volkswagen Beetle is unloaded at Emden harbor, Germany, as the first shipment of 1600 Beetles made in Mexico arrives. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo/Heinz Ducklau, file)
In this Dec. 18, 1977 file photo, a Volkswagen Beetle is unloaded at Emden harbor, Germany, as the first shipment of 1600 Beetles made in Mexico arrives. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo/Heinz Ducklau, file)
 In this Aug. 23, 1954 file photo, four female employees tend to a Volkswagen at a gas station in Deidesheim, near Kaiserslautern, Germany. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938.(AP Photo/Albert Riethausen, File)
 In this Aug. 23, 1954 file photo, four female employees tend to a Volkswagen at a gas station in Deidesheim, near Kaiserslautern, Germany. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938.(AP Photo/Albert Riethausen, File)
In this June 12, 2002 file photo, a Volkswagen Beetle, known as Fusca in Brazil, painted in Brazilian colors on the eve of the Brazilian team's next match of the World Cup, drives down Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938.(AP Photo/Douglas Engle, File)
In this June 12, 2002 file photo, a Volkswagen Beetle, known as Fusca in Brazil, painted in Brazilian colors on the eve of the Brazilian team's next match of the World Cup, drives down Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938.(AP Photo/Douglas Engle, File)
In this July 21, 2003 file photo, Volkswagen employees work in the assembly plant of the Volkswagen sedan 'last edition,' at the VW plant in Puebla, 65 miles (105 kms) southeast of Mexico City where it will stop producing the cult classic bug on July 30th. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
In this July 21, 2003 file photo, Volkswagen employees work in the assembly plant of the Volkswagen sedan 'last edition,' at the VW plant in Puebla, 65 miles (105 kms) southeast of Mexico City where it will stop producing the cult classic bug on July 30th. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
In this Nov. 17, 1999 file photo, a VW Maggiolino Cabriolet, the famous VW Beetle completely made of wood, is shown by Italian artist Livio De Marchi in Essen, Germany. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938.(AP Photo/Karl-Heinz Kreifelts, file)
In this Nov. 17, 1999 file photo, a VW Maggiolino Cabriolet, the famous VW Beetle completely made of wood, is shown by Italian artist Livio De Marchi in Essen, Germany. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938.(AP Photo/Karl-Heinz Kreifelts, file)
In this Dec. 8 2007 file photo, a model poses next to a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle covered in tiles made of a blend of 18 karat gold and glass at the annual Luxury Show in Bucharest, Romania. The car is functional and on sale for 60,000 euros, $88,000. However it is not street legal in Romania because of the nature of its paint. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, file)
In this Dec. 8 2007 file photo, a model poses next to a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle covered in tiles made of a blend of 18 karat gold and glass at the annual Luxury Show in Bucharest, Romania. The car is functional and on sale for 60,000 euros, $88,000. However it is not street legal in Romania because of the nature of its paint. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, file)
In this June 16, 1954 file photo, VW beetles are assembled in lines at the Volkwagen auto works plant, which manufactures nearly 900 automobiles each day, in Wolfsburg, West Germany. Thanks to Volkswagen, Wolfsburg boomed in West Germany's postwar rebirth and today the town and the company are inseparable. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938.(AP Photo/Albert Riethausen, File)
In this June 16, 1954 file photo, VW beetles are assembled in lines at the Volkwagen auto works plant, which manufactures nearly 900 automobiles each day, in Wolfsburg, West Germany. Thanks to Volkswagen, Wolfsburg boomed in West Germany's postwar rebirth and today the town and the company are inseparable. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938.(AP Photo/Albert Riethausen, File)
In this April 27, 1966 file photo, Volkswagen workers drive their Beetle cars from the parking lot on their way home at the end of a days work at the world's largest single auto plant, the Volkswagen factory (seen in background) in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938.(AP Photo, file)
In this April 27, 1966 file photo, Volkswagen workers drive their Beetle cars from the parking lot on their way home at the end of a days work at the world's largest single auto plant, the Volkswagen factory (seen in background) in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938.(AP Photo, file)
In this April 21, 2017 file photo, Volkswagen Beetles are displayed during the annual gathering of the
In this April 21, 2017 file photo, Volkswagen Beetles are displayed during the annual gathering of the "Beetle club" in Yakum, central Israel. The Israeli Beetle club was founded in 2001 and there are 500 members. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938.(AP Photo/Oded Balilty, file)
In this June 22, 2014, file photo a Filipino girl plays with a toy Volkswagen Beetle as she joins activities to celebrate World Volkswagen Day at Camp Aguinaldo in suburban Quezon city, north of Manila, Philippines. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)
In this June 22, 2014, file photo a Filipino girl plays with a toy Volkswagen Beetle as she joins activities to celebrate World Volkswagen Day at Camp Aguinaldo in suburban Quezon city, north of Manila, Philippines. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)
In this April 21, 2017, file photo two kids sit on Volkswagen Beetle roof as it displayed during the annual gathering of the
In this April 21, 2017, file photo two kids sit on Volkswagen Beetle roof as it displayed during the annual gathering of the "Beetle Club" in Yakum, central Israel. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)
In this March 12, 2012, file photo a Volkswagen New Beetle car is lifted inside a delivery tower after the company's annual press conference in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)
In this March 12, 2012, file photo a Volkswagen New Beetle car is lifted inside a delivery tower after the company's annual press conference in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, File)
In this June 7, 2013, file photo potted sunflowers push out of the bonnet of an old Volkswagen Beetle surrounded by flowers in Athens' central Syntagma Square. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)
In this June 7, 2013, file photo potted sunflowers push out of the bonnet of an old Volkswagen Beetle surrounded by flowers in Athens' central Syntagma Square. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, File)
In this April 21, 2017, file photo a collection of VW beetles car toys seen on Volkswagen Beetle displayed during the annual gathering of the
In this April 21, 2017, file photo a collection of VW beetles car toys seen on Volkswagen Beetle displayed during the annual gathering of the "Beetle Club" in Yakum, central Israel. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
In this April 21, 2017, file photo Volkswagen Beetles are displayed during the annual gathering of the
In this April 21, 2017, file photo Volkswagen Beetles are displayed during the annual gathering of the "Beetle club" in Yakum, central Israel. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)
In this May 26, 1938 file photo, German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler speaks at the opening ceremony of the Volkswagen car factory in Fallersleben, Lower Saxony, Germany. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo, File)
In this May 26, 1938 file photo, German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler speaks at the opening ceremony of the Volkswagen car factory in Fallersleben, Lower Saxony, Germany. Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model in July 2019 at its plant in Puebla, Mexico, the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning eight decades since 1938. (AP Photo, File)
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