An ode to the Volkswagen Beetle

My first love was a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle called Bogart.

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We had the best of times together, when I drove him people would wave at me, smile and regularly stop me on the street to tell me about their love affair with the Bug.

Sad to report though… I took Bogart for granted and cheated on him with a Honda Civic.

I will never a forget him though, after all, they do say the first cut is the deepest.

So I decided to visit his hometown of Wolfsburg in Germany to reminisce.

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In a nutshell, Wolfsburg is Volkswagen and Volkswagen is about all Wolfsburg has going for it.

The main attraction here is the Autostadt, the over-the-top home of the Volkswagen group, set amongst 28 hectares of rolling hills and lakes.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful, but in the words of my old high school journalism teacher it was ‘wanky’ – and primarily targeted at people with loads of dough to come and have a pleasant stroll while they waited for their brand new cars to be extracted from one of the car towers – which I like to think of as more of a giant car vending machine.
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My main beef with the Autostadt is despite the fact the VW Beetle was the longest running and most manufactured car in the world (until surpassed by the VW Golf), with more than 21 million of the original Bugs rolling off production lines until 2003, there’s crap all information about it.

In fact, the only interesting things I saw at the Autostadt concerning the Beetle was this 1936 replica of the Hitler-ordered Porsche prototype for the ‘people’s car,’ which ultimately became the VW Bug.

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Come to think of it, the jewelled golden bug, the millionth to roll off production lines, was also pretty cool.

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Back to moaning about the Autostadt though… my other beef was there was crap all information in English, to the point I went on a German-speaking factory tour.

I ending up leaving the Autostadt dazed and confused and wondering where the hell they hid all the old Bugs.

A good hour later I found them, across town in the VW Museum, which after visiting the grandeur of the Autostadt was like travelling to a third-world country.
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But even though the museum is in dire need of some TLC (or arguably a bulldozer), it did house what I was looking for, though some of the most interesting Beetles I walked straight past as the signs were only in German – such as the Bug given to Hitler for his 50th birthday.

And, even though I opted for the classic look on my Beetle, my favourite Bugs in the museum were the ones dressed up like you’d dress up a Barbie doll.

For instance: the wedding day Beetle.

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The wicker basket Beetle.

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The postage stamp Beetle.

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And – the hot air balloon carriage Beetle.

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All the Beetles made it hard for me not to cheat on Bogart again, but luckily there were signs to ward me off whenever I got tempted – and trust me I was tempted, not only to stroke one but to steal one and flee the miserable city of Wolfsburg along with it.

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