Ferdinand Porsche, the same man who designed the car to get if you’re a somebody, also designed the one for everybody. The Volkswagen – “people’s car” – was aimed straight at the common market. A compact size and an aircooled (no radiator) engine that produced 25 horsepower (later upgraded to 57) gave it no zing, but the price was right. GIs returning from the war could buy one brand new for under $2,000. The car’s simplicity and low costs made it a favorite not only in Europe and the U.S., but all over the world.
On this day, July 30, in 2003, the last of the old-stye VW “bugs” rolled off the line in a production plant in Mexico. The models were quite popular as taxis in the country, but competition from newer compact models made the costs untenable. The VW was decorated in the Mexican national colors, and accompanied by a band playing “El Rey,” the King, packed up on the way to a museum in Germany.
Mexico furthered the nostalgic spirit that went with the last Beetle by a series of television ads that bid farewell to the car. In one of the ads several large cars attempt to fit in a small parking space, with none succeeding. “Es increíble que un auto tan pequeño deje un vacío tan grande,” the caption read. “It is incredible that a car so small can leave such a large void.”