VW Bee­tles get 2nd life with Mex­i­can col­lec­tors

The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

MEXICO CITY: When the Mexico City gov­ern­ment re­tired the last Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle taxis in 2012, it shipped most of the age­ing cars, com­monly known as "vo­chos," to junk­yards to be turned into scrap me­tal.

But some of the Bee­tles, both for­mer taxis and pri­vate cars, have found a sec­ond life in the hands of en­thu­si­asts like Mario Anaya. He re­stored his fa­ther's 1994 sedan into an auto he named "the lizard" for its me­tal­lic-green paint.

"The car has a sec­ond life," said Anaya, who be­gan re­fur­bish­ing the for­mer taxi in 2007, in­stalling tan leather in­te­rior, a new odome­ter, fend­ers and chrome Porsche-style wheels.

A Volk­swa­gen fac­tory in Pue­bla, about 130km to the east, man­u­fac­tured the old-style Bee­tles for 39 years, long af­ter the car de­sign had ceased pro­duc­tion ev­ery­where else. The last one came off the Mex­i­can pro­duc­tion line in 2003. About 50,000 of the green-and-white taxis, many with the front pas­sen­ger's seat re­moved, still roamed the Mex­i­can cap­i­tal's streets at their peak in 2006. But the city's crack­down on air pol­lu­tion, its fight against crime, and the adop­tion of newer car mod­els fi­nally led to the vo­cho's re­tire­ment, with the last of the Bee­tle taxi li­cences ex­pir­ing in 2012.

To­day, Anaya's close friend Ar­turo Diaz drives a re­stored ocean-blue 1965 rag­top Bee­tle and is pres­i­dent of Xochivolks, a club he founded 11 years ago in the cap­i­tal's Xochim­ilco dis­trict.

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