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July 30, 2003

Herbie Rides No More

Seventy years ago, Adolph Hitlerís government introduced the ubiquitous Beetle to the German people. The end of an era came to a close today in Puebla, Mexico when the 21,529,464th, and final, sedan rolled off of the assembly line. Production in the United States ended in 1977 after the design and engine no longer met federal safety standards, but remained a low cost mode of transportation for many Third World countries.

I note the passing out of nostalgia Ė over the years I have owned four Beetles. They were, by far, the most fun to drive of any vehicle that I have ever owned. Already an icon by the time that I learned to legally drive, it reminds me of more carefree and simpler times before I had to deal with payments to the mortgage company and the orthodontist. Oh sure, they were temperamental, hot and noisy but they were still a joy to drive.

The first one that I owned brought me back to Texas from Elgin AFB in Florida carrying everything that I owned in the world. I donít think that a fleet of them could haul all of the possessions that Iíve accumulated at this point in my life. Alas, along with everything in life cars just kept on getting more complex. I can remember tuning the engine on my first Beetle using only a wrench to loosen the nut on the distributor and my ear to listen to the engine idling, first very rough then progressively smoother. Try that on your 2003 Expedition!

So now the Beetle passes into obsolescence, preceded by stuff like the Commodore 64 computer, the F4 Phantom II, the Ronco Bottle and Jar Cutter, Pet Rocks and Abe Vigoda. Ah, the march of timeÖ

Posted by mjwoods at July 30, 2003 01:43 PM

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