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Sad day for Bug fans as Volkswagen announces the end of the road for the Beetle

PUBLISHED: 06:30 18 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:53 18 September 2018

Michael Rant with his VW Beetle.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Michael Rant with his VW Beetle. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

It has been one of the most distinctive vehicles on our roads for more than half a century.

Those who love its curvaceous lines call it the Bug. Now production of the iconic VW Beetle is to end amid slumping sales.

Volkswagen announced it will stop making the car in July 2019 after releasing two special editions. The car giant said it was turning its attention to the next generation of electric vehicles.

Lucy Haughey runs the VW Whitenoise festival at Euston Park, near Thetford. The event has grown from an enthusiasts’ gathering to a major music festival attracting thousands.

“Our event has been running for 16 years and we used to see a lot more Beetles attend in the early years,” she said. “The Volkswagen camper vans then took over in popularity and the price of those rocketed.

Michael Rant with his VW Beetle.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMichael Rant with his VW Beetle. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“Perhaps down to cost we recently started seeing an increase in VW Beetles, particularly in our Show n Shine competition this summer.

“My mum has a new shape convertible beetle that she loves and my first memory of a car is my legs getting burnt by the upholstery in the back of my dad’s beetle in the 70s.

“It is sad to hear they will no longer be made. That decision will undoubtedly drive up their value.”

One car which has already gone up in value is the 1951 Beetle Sudbury-based Lloyd Jackson has spent £85,000 restoring.

Beetles at Whitenoise 2018
   Picture: Sonya DuncanBeetles at Whitenoise 2018 Picture: Sonya Duncan

“I bought it as a parts car for £6,500 but I couldn’t bear to cut it up,” said the 45-year-old, whose business Deluxe Metalwork specialises in restoring pre-1955 Beetles and Porsches.

The Bordeaux-coloured car has been named Europe’s most beautiful VW. Of the Bug’s demise, he said: “I think it’s one of those things. The people who are into the vintage ones aren’t into the new ones but it’s sad when they stop production of any car.”
Michael Rant from Norwich bought a yellow 1973 Beetle as a present for his wife Francesca last Christmas.

The car, which has 70,000 miles on the clock, has been christened Bumble.

“I’m a big fan, I use the Beetle daily now,” said insulation fitter Mr Rant, 36. “Driving it’s really fun, there’s no power steering everything’s old school, there’s nothing new on it.”

Michael Rant with his VW Beetle.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMichael Rant with his VW Beetle. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Announcing the end of production, Volkswagen’s US chief executive Hinrich Woebcken said: “The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle’s many devoted fans.”

Volkswagen has no plans to revive the much-celebrated car again, but did not rule it out as a possibility.

The VW Owners Club of Great Britain said: “It’s a sad day in the VW world, but one that isn’t surprising. Sales figures of the current Beetle are very disappointing. VW report that they have sold less than 1,000 Beetles so far this year in the UK.”

The Beetle was first developed in Nazi Germany in the early 1930s.

Michael Rant with his VW Beetle.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYMichael Rant with his VW Beetle. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Hitler commissioned engineer Ferdinand Porsche to develop a mass production car that could carry a family of four.

Production was stalled by the onset of the Second World War, but in 1945 the Volkswagen factory was saved by British Army officer Major Ivan Hirst.

He believed that the affordable, reliable and practical vehicle could be sold beyond Germany.

Despite its Nazi origins, the Beetle went on to be one of the biggest selling foreign-made cars in the US during the 1960s, proving popular with the hippy generation.

The VW which has been restored by Lloyd Jackson  Picture: Lloyd JacksonThe VW which has been restored by Lloyd Jackson Picture: Lloyd Jackson

It also featured in a series of Disney films as a talking car named Herbie.

The car was sold for around 30 years in the US before being taken off the market in 1979. It went on and off sale over the following decades.

The Beetle was revamped in the late 1990s, proving particularly popular among female motorists.

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