Remembering The Volkswagen Beetle As VW Ends Production (Again)

We Take A Look Back At The Memorable Run Of VW's People's Car With Classic Photos That Include A Beetle Police Car And A Race Car.
  • 1938 through 1975 Volkswagen Beetles. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1935 Volkwagen VW3 prototype. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1937 Volkswagen prototype. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1937 Volkswagen VW30 prototype. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1937 Volkswagen VW30 prototype. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1938 Volkswagen Beetle prototypes at the cornerstone-laying ceremony for the Wolfsburg factory. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1938 Volkswagen pre-production prototypes. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1938 Volkswagen cabriolet prototype. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1938 Volkswagen production example. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1938 Volkswagen Beetle. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1945 Volkswagen Beetle, first post-war production car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1945 Volkswagen factory. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1945 Volkswagen Beetle under construction. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1946 Volkswagen Beetle, the 10,000th car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1947 Volkswagen assembly line. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1947 Volkswagen assembly line. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1949 Volkswagen assembly line. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1949 Volkswagen Beetle Karmann cabriolet. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1949 Volkswagen Beetle Karmann cabriolet. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1951 Volkswagen Beetle display at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1952 Volkswagen Beetle production. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1952 Volkswagen Beetle. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1953 Volkswagen Beetle production. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1954 Volkswagen Beetle cabriolet police car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1955 Volkswagen Beetle production. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1955 Volkswagen Beetle, the millionth car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1956 Volkswagen Beetles outside the Wolfsburg factory. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1956 Volkswagen Beetle production. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1956 Volkswagen Beetle, recreating the car that contended the Italian Mille Miglia road race, Herbie, the Love Bug-style. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1956 Volkswagen Beetle. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1964 Volkswagen Beetle assembly. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1964 Volkswagen Beetle assembly. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1965 Volkswagen Beetle shipment. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1965 Volkswagen Beetle, the 10-millionth car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • Volkswagen Beetle-packing was a fad on college campuses in the 1960s. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, the 15-millionth car, surpassing the Ford Model T in all-time sales. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, the 15-millionth car, surpassing the Ford Model T in all-time sales. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1973 Volkswagen Beetle production in the Wolfsburg factory. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1974 Volkswagen Beetle production of the last Beetle from the Wolfsburg factory. Production continued at the Puebla, Mexico plant until 2003. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1974 Volkswagen Beetle, Jeans edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1978 Volkswagen Beetle shipment from Mexico. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1978 Volkswagen Beetle shipment from Mexico, unloading at Emden, Germany. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1981 Volkswagen Beetle, the 20-millionth car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1981 Volkswagen Beetle, the 20-millionth car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1981 Volkswagen Beetle, the 20-millionth car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition assembly. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition assembly. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition, the very last car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is performing a metaphoric passing of the torch from its classic Beetle to its upcoming family of electric vehicles that will be built on its MEB electric platform. Volkswagen has discontinued production of its modern Beetle in preparation for the launch of its ID family of electric vehicles.

In honor of the original People's Car, we've assembled a slideshow of the car's development over the decades from its inception in the 1930s to the conclusion of production in Mexico in 2003. VW has produced an animated film tribute to the Bug too, overlayed by the Beatles'  Let it Be , performed by the Pro Musica Youth Chorus

“The Beetle is easily one of the most recognizable cars in the history of automobiles,” said Saad Chehab, senior vice president of Volkswagen brand marketing. “Honoring it properly required a medium with just as much versatility and universal appeal as the car itself."

The first members of VW's new ID family of EVs go into production in 2020, and response has been so favorable that the company has revised its forecast to reach 1 million ID vehicles by 2023, rather than the previously predicted 2025. “2020 will be a key year for the transformation of Volkswagen. With the market launch of the ID.3 and other attractive models in the ID. family, our electric offensive will also become visible on the roads”, said Thomas Ulbrich, member of the Volkswagen brand Board of Management responsible for E-Mobility. “Our new overall plan for 1.5 electric cars in 2025 shows that people want climate-friendly individual mobility – and we are making it affordable for millions of people.”

Still, they'll have a long way to go to reach the Beetle's 21 million cars over 70 years.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

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