Next summer, the last Beetle will roll off the assembly line. Roughly 20 years after the premiere of the New Beetle, its production will come to an end. We celebrate this with the “Final Edition”.
The sun sets over the pacific, turning the sky over Malibu into a breathtaking palette of yellow, dark blue, orange and red. A seat in a Beetle convertible is the perfect vantage point to enjoy this beautiful spectacle. Next to it, young people sit on their pick-up trucks, one guy climbs on top of his T5. But none of the other cars seems to match this moment quite as well as the Beetle. It radiates.
The air is filled with melancholy
“Of course, there is some wistfulness,” says Klaus Bischoff about the Final Edition1. The chief designer of the Volkswagen brand and his team designed the Beetle and the New Beetle.
“The fact that it goes away is a big deal in the automotive world,” says racing driver Tanner Foust, who pilots the GRC Beetle Rallycross. “What car is classless these days? That’s why I am sad to see it go,” says Beetle fan and presenter Sidney Hoffmann. He ordered a new convertible, while he still could, and is building a very special Beetle as a farewell present to Volkswagen.
On the occasion of its farewell tour at the LA Motor Show, the Beetle looks particularly smart. As a coupe and as a convertible. In exclusive beige or light blue, with a classy design and great features.
“The Final Edition combines all the features you always wanted,” says Sidney Hoffmann. He has been presenting a German TV show called “Die PS-Profis” (the power pros) since 2009. “You want nice seats and a Fender system. You want all of those comfort features in your car. And now it has them.”
An icon of automotive engineering
Using the famous Pacific Coast Highway, fans and experts came to the beach to see the “Final Edition”. Few things are able to turn people’s heads in this place. The curvaceous Beetle does. “I believe that people still love the Beetle. It’s popular and created a lot of movement on the American market,” says Klaus Bischoff. “It has an extremely original shape, that you don’t see anywhere else. It’s friendly and draws a lot of positive energy to the driver and the brand.”
The next morning, about 50 family members come together for a gathering. “Breakfast and Beetle”. In front of the exhibition hall, food trucks serve takeaway food, so people can walk around and marvel at the Beetle’s ancestors, some of them over 70 years old. Some of the cars have intricate designs, others are heavily tuned. There is a wedding Beetle and the bumblebee from the transformers movie. Tanner Foust parked his racing car here.
Scott Keogh, the new president and CEO of the Volkswagen Group of America, has a personal history with the car. In the 1960s, his parents had seen the Beetle in Germany and bought one, back in the states. As a child, Keogh endured the fate of being the youngest brother – sitting in the third row of the family car.
“These are magical memories. The thing I recall is the sound of that engine. When you were just fighting your brother, you knew mom was in the driveway. So, you all got up, got your homework done and everything was ok. I think when electric cars arrive, the poor kids, they won´t hear their parents coming anymore. So, it will be a little tougher.”
Sidney Hoffmann creates his farewell present
In future, among all those classic cars and show cars, there could be an “Uber Beetle”. Sidney Hoffmann is building one right now, supported by the Volkswagen brand and Volkswagen motor sport. “It’s going to be a mixture of an RSI and a GRC Beetle,” explains the tuning expert and it’s evident that he really enjoys working on this project. “I’m using a raw body with components from a GRC as a basis for a racing car with first-rate elements, lots of carbon and milled parts. The car will have a six-cylinder engine and all-wheel drive with lots of power.”
Tanner Foust knows what it’s like to compete in a Beetle racing car. Many times this morning, he talks about how proud he is and how much fun it is to drive a Beetle racing car.
“The Beetle is one of the most iconic cars in history. It has an amazing racing heritage. I´ve been very proud to race it and I love racing the car. It looks completely different than all the other rally cross cars out of the course. It looks incredibly mean. You think the Beetle is nice and friendly, cruising on the street. But our Beetle is a little beast. It´s incredibly fast and it´s a great honor to drive it.”
From product to icon
Following the walk through history, Scott Keogh will present the “Final Edition” in the exhibition halls. It will only be available in the US, following the example of the “Última Edición” of the legendary Beetle. Americans loved the Beetle and they still do.
“In life, sometimes you can´t explain a cultural icon and it´s an impossible lightning-in-a-bottle scenario when you have a cultural movement merged with the suburbanization of America, where Americans were moving out in the 50s and then this twinkle-in-the-eye product came along and it´s just caught on fire. It´s hard to explain and you can´t recreate it. That´s what the car was and what the second generation was as well.”
1 The vehicle is not on sale in Germany and Europe