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History Of The Love Bug

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we have outlined the history of the most iconic car of love – the Love Bug Beetle.

Posted on: February 15, 2017

VW Beetle

Valentine’s Day has just past, but for all the car lovers out there the infatuation with your car is more than likely year round. We felt that the best way to celebrate V Day is with a detailed history of the most loved up car in existence. You’ve all watched the movies and felt your heart melt as Herbie the Love Bug flashed his little headlights at another car or was instrumental in getting the main characters together just in time for the closing credits. From 2000 to 2011, almost 9000 reborn Beetles found loving homes in Australia. In fact, in 1961 the VW Beetle was the second most popular car in Australia. For any car lover out there, there is definitely a soft spot for the VW Beetle. Welcome to the team Volkswagen because Herbie the Love Bug is here to guide you through the history of the Volkswagen Beetle.

Background

As one of the oldest nameplates still in use today, the Volkswagen Beetle is known for its bug like features and inverted fishbowl, tiny body. It was first developed in 1934 in Germany with the first model landing in 1938. However, production was held until 1947 in Europe after the German assembly factory was bombed during WWII. In the 10 years separating the 50s and 60s, U.S. importation grew and eventually 21 million Beetles would be sold worldwide. U.S. sales ceased in 1979, with continued production in Mexico and Brazil, but the VW Beetle’s iconic look only had its first major redesign in 1998 and became what it is today.

U.S. importation

In the early years, Americans didn’t have much fondness for the Love Bug as it was a German manufacturer. The Anti-German sentiment in the U.S. was still strong in 1949, but at the turn of the decade saw some interest. 330 VWs were sold, but many were add-ons to Porsche and Jaguar orders as the cheaper addition to the luxury car models that would be on the showroom floors. In 1955, the same year the one-millionth Beetle was built, Volkswagen of America was formed and dealerships were established across the country. The VW Beetle began official importation into Australia in 1953, and began local assembly the following year.

Beetle-based dune buggy

Californian engineer and surfer Bruce F. Meyers created the Meyers Manx dune buggy in 1964 utilising the body of the Volkswagen Beetle. The “kit cars” used the Beetle’s floorplan, engine, and transmission. Beach-goers could snap up a junked Bug and transform it, so it would be ready to hit the dunes. It’s been popped into many popular culture forms and has become a “gnarly dude” must-have for all those keen surfers.

Herbie, our favourite Love Bug

Disney made imaginations run wild with the first “Herbie” movie in 1969, The Love Bug. The plot follows the mischievous, self-aware Beetle as it proved to be a successful race car, and on the side found and shaped love. The number 53, white bug had many other adventures on the big screen up until 2005. Mostly a beaten up old Bug, viewers would be baffled over how a VW Beetle would be able to speed along the race track, but you never know what a little tender loving care can do.

So from the modest, in-expensive Beetle to the must-have for any Barbie-girl, the Volkswagen Beetle sure has been for a ride, and we just fall in love with it every time. Although the current generation Beetle is being phased out in Australia due to falling sales figures, Volkswagen has assured fans that, “the current Beetle will get the send-off it deserves.”

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