June 23, 2003


Bye bye, Beetle:

The iconic Volkswagen Beetle, the most popular car ever made, will cease production this summer, 69 years and more than 21 million sales after Adolf Hitler's Third Reich first commissioned the durable, dome-shaped little "People's Car."

Volkswagen officials said earlier this month that the last Beetle assembly line in the world, in VW's massive plant here in central Mexico, will shut in the coming weeks.

"My heart is sick," said Antonio Cholula Olvera, who has assembled Beetles for 40 of his 59 years, watching a line of unpainted Beetle bodies waiting for their chassis to be welded on. "It's a beautiful car. Everybody loved it. Maybe I love it too much."

Who doesn’t love the Beetle? I drove a ‘74 Superbug across the US in 1990 - new clutch in Memphis, blown off the road by storms in Florida, sold to hippies in Baltimore - and enjoyed every minute, especially when the ignition died and I was stranded for three days in Shreveport, Louisiana. Meanwhile, in other Kraut-related machinery news:

The Australian War Memorial will today unveil a never-before displayed German Messerschmitt Bf-109.

The World War II fighter plane is the only one in the world to still bear all its original paintwork.

It also has carefully concealed graffiti from PoWs who built it.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 23, 2003 06:00 PM

How interesting.

" The war memorial knows almost nothing about its history, other than that it was built in Germany in 1944 by Russian prisoners and sustained major damage before the year was out. "

Did somone just dump it at their front door during the night?

If I remember correctly, the AWM already has a Spitfire.

BTW, I think the AWM might be the finest museum in Australia. Last year when I was there, the WWI exhibits literally moved me to tears.

The new Museum of Australia moved me to tears as well, but for completely different reasons. Mind you, it does have Captain Sturt's waterbottle (Sturt being a a personal hero of mine), which is worth the price of admission alone (admission is free).

Posted by: James at June 23, 2003 at 07:00 PM

I'd love to know what the graffiti is.

Posted by: Andjam at June 23, 2003 at 07:32 PM

Hey! I take a blogging holiday, and Tim starts writing about old warbirds! Not fair I tells ya!!!!! ;-)

Posted by: wilbur at June 23, 2003 at 08:26 PM

I notice that this appears to be an attempt to "be evenhanded" to the German contribution to the war; among other things: the ceremony is to be "witnessed" by a former Luftwaffe pilot.

Posted by: Dave F at June 23, 2003 at 08:38 PM

Yes, James, a Spitfire MkII, and also a Fokke Wulf FW 190. A 109, together with the refurbished lancaster display will certainly make the AWM the equal of any WW2 museum in the world.

Posted by: Niall at June 23, 2003 at 11:13 PM

Tim Blair's links to facism revealed!

Posted by: Andjam at June 23, 2003 at 11:18 PM

Now what you really need is a Martin B-26 Maruader. Other than a piece of the fuselage in the Smithsonian and a non-flyable one in a museum in France, there aren't any more left...wonder if there might be enough bits and pieces scattered over Malaysia and Indonesia to come up with one? So, any old diggers maybe have one in their barn?

Posted by: JSAllison at June 24, 2003 at 06:42 AM