From Type 1 to Dune Buggy, Hippie flower power to 3rd gen: 65 years of Volkswagen Beetle in US
Volkswagen Beetle (Type 1) number one came to the US in January 1949. In these 65 years, 5.5+ million Beetles have been sold in the US. Lucky number 1 was shipped to New York City by Ben Pon Sr, a Dutch businessman, and the world’s first official Volkswagen importer.
This Beetle, and another Beetle found buyers the same year, making 1949 the year that a Volkswagen was first sold in the United States.
The iconic Beetle led to the establishment of the first Volkswagen of America headquarters in Englewood Cliffs in October 1955, and now 11 VW models are sold by 644 dealers inthe United States. By the mid-1950s, 35,000+ Beetles were on the road, by 1960, nearly 300,000, and by 1968, as many as 423,008 Beetle vehicles a year were being sold in the United States.
“Since its arrival in the United States 65 years ago, the Volkswagen Beetle has preserved its reputation of being more than just a car, but a symbol of uniqueness and freedom,” said Michael Horn, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. “The Beetle has become part of the cultural fabric in America and we are proud that its rich heritage continues to live with fans around the States.”
The hippy 1960′s saw the Beetle thrive through custom paint jobs and open-top Dune Buggy bodies that embodied individual owner personalities. In 1977, the last “Type 1” Beetle rolled off the production line in Wolfsburg, Germany. A New Beetle was introduced in 1998. This one had a water cooled engine rather than air cooled, and it was mounted at the front rather than at the rear. The third-generation Beetle entered the US market in 2011, and sold more than 43,000 units in the United States in 2013. The 2014 Beetle earned a 5-star Safety Rating from the Government’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP).