VW Beetles get 2nd life with Mexican collectors
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.