1 IT WAS DESIGNED BY HITLER
Let’s deal with the evil elephant in the room first. Yes, the Beetle was a response to Adolf Hitler’s request for a German people’s car and being both dictatorial and a motoring enthusiast, he followed its development extrememly closely. He also reportedly said that it should be Beetle-shaped because one should look to nature for streamlining. But the engineering innovation and actual hard design graft was done by Ferdinand Porsche and his team.
2 IT NEVER CHANGED
Put a 1938 Beetle alongside a 2003 version and the two are clearly more or less the same. But although the general concept didn’t alter over eight decades, Volkswagen constantly improved many aspects, each and every year. One of VW’s many brilliant adverts pointed out that just four little parts were all a 1948 and 1965 model had in common. Of course, all those claims by Toyota and Volkswagen that the Corolla and the Golf eventually outsold the Bug patently ignore the fact that the various generations of those machines were utterly different.
3 THE BEETLE AND THE BEATLES
The 1968 Lotus White 1500 Beetle on The Beatles’ Abbey Road cover is partially responsible for one of rock music’s silliest myths. In 1969, a rumour started that Paul McCartney had been killed, but replaced by the other Fabs with a lookalike. Among the clues was the Beetle’s numberplate, LMW 281F; supposed to stand for ‘Linda McCartney Weeps, 28 IF’, Macca’s age IF he’d still been around. Hey, he was 27, but who cares? The Beetle is now in VW’s Wolfsburg Museum, where it’s claimed it was owned by John Lennon. That’s also false; it just belonged to someone who lived on Abbey Road. Really, Volkswagen?
A later Beetle 1302 from 1972… no cryptic numberplate messages here.