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Say goodbye to the Volkswagen Beetle


Volkswagen stops production of the latest version of its Beetle model this week at the Puebla, Mexico plant. It is the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things during a story spanning eight decades since 1938, reports the AP. It has been: 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 worldwide. An emblem of the 1

960s counter-culture in the United States. Above all, the car remains a landmark in design that can be recognized as the Coca-Cola bottle. The car's original design – a rounded silhouette with room for four or five almost vertical windshields and the air-cooled rear engine – can be traced back to Austrian engineer Ferdinand Porsche, who was hired to meet Adolf Hitler's project for a "people's car" that would spread auto ownership as the Ford Model T had in the United States.

Mass production of what was called the KdF wagon, based on the acronym of the Nazi working time under whose auspices it was to be sold, was canceled due to World War II. Later resumed as a civilian car manufacturer under the supervision of the British Occupation Authorities, the Volkswagen factory was transferred in 1949 to the German government and the state of Lower Saxony, which still owns part of the company. In 1955, the millionth Beetle – officially called Type 1 – had rolled off the assembly line in what was now the city of Wolfsburg. The production that ended in 1978 as newer front drive models like Golf took over. But Beetle was not dead yet. The production took place in Mexico, where the car, called "vochito", made itself at home as a robust, Mexican-made "carro del pueblo". The last of the 5,961 Final Edition versions of the Beetle is on its way to a museum after ceremonies in Puebla Wednesday to mark the end of production. (Early in Beetle's history, the United States Volkswagen became the main foreign market – more on the history of the car, including why it is here.)

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