Beetles as far as the eye can see!
Close to our apartment in Medellin is a new VW dealership. It's so new, in fact, that taxi drivers don't know it's there yet. When we ask them 'sabes la nueva empresa para vender Volkswagen?' they shake their heads no. Recently the dealership held a promotional event, so perhaps more people will know they're in the neighborhood. And what better way to feature a new business than to show old versions of the new product?
The old and the new: Left, a 1954 Beetle. Right, 2020 Beetle
Top left: 1963, Top right:1967, Bottom left:1955, Bottom right:1968-72
Many people of a certain age have their own Beetle story. I purchased a VW Beetle just like the one above in May 1970 when I was in flight school at Ft. Wolters Texas. I bought the car brand new at a dealership in Mineral Wells (Tx). Price out the door was a whopping $1,700.00! Cheap, dependable, sturdy, and economical. Zero to 60? Yes.
1954 Beetle with split screen rear window
The last year Volkswagen made the split screen rear window was for the 1954 model. The vehicle on display near us was (is) immaculate, and it has very interesting features. For example, in the first shot, hard to see unless you look close, the yellow-ish bar is a light that is part of the turn signal system. The bar flips out to horizontal when the turn signal is activated. Middle picture (again hard to see) is a novel circular gas pedal. The pedal is like a small wheel that the driver rotates with their foot to speed up or slow down. I'm guessing there are several near miss tales associated with this design.
Every one of the antique VW Beetles outside the dealership are in nearly showroom shape. Their owners clearly cherish these vehicles, and drive them very little. Many feature stickers showing membership in various VW owner's clubs around Colombia. We noticed on arrival in Medellin that there are a large number of old VWs around town, and we wondered why they might be so popular? One reason, as the fellow at the new dealership explained, is that VWs hold up very well, and that once a car is 35 years old the government can issue Antiguo licensure to it. Among other benefits of having this licensing is that those vehicles are no longer subject to Pico y Placa rules, the regulations that dictate which days a vehicle may or may not be driven.
1974 VW Beetle: Not for sale!
Made in Germany. (ya think?) Membership decals, and a rather mysterious admonition to 'Obey The Boston' (Terrier? Globe? Marathon? Strangler? It wasn't immediately clear. One thing the stickers told us was that several of these VWs had been around, and not just in Colombia.
Old Ad Sticker/Slogan
If you're my age, you'll remember some of the old, funny, memorable and self deprecating ads for VWs. 'Do you earn too much to afford one?' 'Live below your means.' 'If you run out of gas, it's easy to push.' 'One of the best things about owning it, is selling it.'
My personal favorite VW ad
Thanks to Wilt Chamberlain and others, Volkswagen made their pitch to everyone who valued products that under promised and over delivered. Plus, the Beetle was just plain fun to drive. Back to my own Beetle story. I purchased mine in May of '69. I gave my brother the keys to it when I shipped off to Vietnam for a year. It served him well in my absence. When I returned home, the Beetle was waiting for me in the garage at home. Then, in a frenzy of sheer madness I traded my Beetle for a fire engine red MGB ragtop. Fun to drive? Yes. Chick magnet? Assuredly. Lemon? Boy howdy. That MG spent more time in the garage than on the road. I should'a kept my Beetle. Heck, I could still be driving it!
1955 Volkswagen Beetle
My favorite vehicle from the show. This car looked brand new. Not bad for a car that's almost as old as me. I liked this car right away: Like me, it's slow, cranky in the morning, and a bit stubborn. It has gas and a limited view aft. White sidewalls match my bald spot. It's amazing the thing can still get around, but it does. It's simple, and I like simple, more so all the time. It probably needs a fair amount of maintenance as well, so I can relate. Its pickup is comparable to a sloth's, and that's just fine. One thing the old Beetle holds is a lot of memories: first dates, first traffic tickets, babies brought home, groceries delivered, senior proms. Maybe the best memory for me was the snatch of assurance it provided a returning GI that after a year in a senseless and crazy war, some things are still solid. Personal comments about your own experience with your Beetle are welcome. Thanks for reading.