Retrospective

Three big name brands, three Volkswagens: How VW's mid-century models shaped modern America

Domino’ started its delivery business with this Beetle.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Three brands that are modern day household names got a little help in the beginning from Volkswagen vehicles. Domino's, Ben & Jerry's, and Nike all spent their early years growing from little passion projects to formidable businesses. The brands grew up and into Volkswagens, then saw them expand far past the wheelbase limits and into major corporations.

Domino's

Volkswagen Dominio's Pizza

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Dodge brothers aren't the only famous or successful all-male duo from the Detroit area. Brothers Tom and James Monaghan founded Domino's Pizza in 1960 when they bought a small pizzeria in Ypsilanti, Michigan, a southwest suburb of Motor City.

The store purchase cost just $900, about $600 less than the price of a new Volkswagen Beetle at the time. Dominick DiVarti, the original owner of the shop, gave the boys a 15-minute pizza making lesson then turned over the keys to DomiNick's to them.

James, who had a full-time job as a mail carrier in addition to helping run the shop, sold his share of the pizzeria to get the company a delivery vehicle, a 1959 Beetle.

In the 1950s, the Beetle had evolved from its early years into a body style with the features commonly seen in vintage models that are still on the road today. By the time the Mongahan brothers got theirs, the Beetle had larger taillights that combined the traditional taillamps and turn signals. Twin chrome tailpipes were added and U.S. models had taller bumper guards. The rear rectangular window of previous years' models was replaced with an oval one in the late '50s.

By 1965, the brothers had purchased two additional pizzerias and changed the name of the business. There was no going back. Today, there are over 17,000 Domino's locations worldwide.

According to Volkswagen, the whereabouts of Domino's first delivery vehicle is unknown. However, a replica of the original is showcased at Domino's headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Ben & Jerry's

Ben & Jerry's Type 3 Vermont

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Ben & Jerry's was founded in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont by two New York City-area transplants who had taken a $5 ice cream-making correspondence course offered by Pennsylvania State University that same year.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield invested $12,000 into their first scoop shop in a converted gas station in downtown Burlington that sat across from what is now The Vermont Pub & Brewery in the space currently occupied by a public parking lot.

In the land of creemees, Ben and Jerry made a big impact, proving popular thanks to their flavorful ice cream and oversized chunks of filling. They didn't just sell scoops at their shop. The company delivered 2.5-gallon tubs of ice cream to restaurants and shops in Ben's red Volkswagen Type 3 Squareback station wagon for their first two years of business.

The Type 3 had been introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1961. It was designed to fill a hole in the VW lineup between the Beetle and the Bus, as a family-friendly auto. Volkswagen began importing the Type 3 Squareback to the U.S. in 1966 where it competed directly with the Chevrolet Corvair.

By 1980, demand took off and Vermont's harsh winters and road salt caught up with the Type 3. However, the Volkswagen lives on at Ben & Jerry's South Burlington headquarters today and their factory just down the road in Waterbury. There's a Type 2 painted on the wall at their in-office Scoop Shop and vehicle inside their shop in downtown Burlington.

Nike

Nike bus Type 2 Volkswagen

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Long before Nike was Nike, it was Blue Ribbon Sports. Founded in 1964 by University of Oregon track coach, Bill Bowerman, and U of O track star Phil Knight, the company originally set out to cater to runners, selling Onitsuka Tiger track shoes out of Knight's car at track meets.

Their first year of business they sold 1,500 pairs. The next that number grew to 8,000. Blue Ribbon Sports added a brick and mortar location in 1967 in Santa Monica, California near the intersection of Pico Boulevard and I-10.

The company's first employee, Jeff Johnson, marketed the shop and drove his personal vehicle, a Volkswagen Type 2 bus, to track meets where he sold and delivered shoes to runners. The second-generation T2 Bus stood out thanks to its gingham curtains and Onitsuka Tigers dealer sticker up front on the driver's door.

The original store closed just two years later but within a decade, the company, now retreaded as Nike, owned 50 percent of the athletic shoe market.

In 2019, Volkswagen and Nike teamed up to celebrate their shared history. The companies outfitted a Volkswagen ID. BUZZ CARGO concept van to resemble the original Blue Ribbon Sports delivery van, promoting Nike's "Reuse-A-Shoe" program and Volkswagen's electric future.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Nearly every brand has a YouTube channel full of vehicle how-to guides and walkarounds.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

When you get the keys to your new car, it's easy to zone out when it comes to the instruction the dealership is trying to give you about things like how to change the rearview camera view or turn off that annoying beeping sound you think is made by the safety system.

Often. automakers fill their YouTube channel with a selection of videos that share the highlights of the vehicles and give how-to advice for the various tech systems in them. Not all videos are created equal, however. Some automakers do a better job than others.

Most of the links on this list go to a playlist for a certain automobile created by an automaker. However, some manufacturers mix it up, offering model overviews separate from technical tutorials.

If the videos aren't able to help with your particular query, head to your local dealership for a tutorial, something most offer for no charge.

Acura

2020 Acura TLX Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Aston Martin

2020 Aston Martin DBX

Photo courtesy of Aston Martin

Bugatti

Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport

Photo courtesy of Bugatti

Dodge

2020 Dodge Charger Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Note: Dodge does not currently have any how-to or walkaround videos on their YouTube channel.

Ferrari

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Fiat

2020 Fiat 500 Trekking

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Kia

2020 Kia Niro FE Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Lexus

2020 Lexus NX

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Model Overviews:

Technical Tutorials:

Lincoln

2020 Lincoln Navigator

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

Vehicle Overviews:

Technical Tutorials:

Lotus

Note: Lotus does not currently have any how-to or walkaround videos on their YouTube channel.

Maserati

Maserati Ghibli

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Model Overviews:

Technology Tutorials:

Mazda

2019 Mazda Mazda6 Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Vehicle Overviews:

Technology Tutorials:

MINI

2021 MINI John Cooper Works GP Photo courtesy of MINI

Mitsubishi

2019 Mitsubishi Outlander Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

Pagani

Photo courtesy of Pagani Automobili

Note: Pagani does not currently have any how-to or walkaround videos on their YouTube channel.

Tesla

Tesla Model 3

Photo courtesy of Tesla

Vehicle Overviews:

Technology Tutorials:

Volvo

2020 Volvo XC60

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Vehicle Overviews:

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Drive-in movie theaters may be making a comeback thanks to fears over the spread of COVID-19.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The drive-in movie theater is making a comeback. With the memory of a drive-in comes with nostalgia of movies of years past. Volkswagen recently picked their favorite movies starring VWs, vintage and modern. Scroll down to see them all.

"The Love Bug"

"The Love Bug" (1968): A down-on-his-luck race car driver and his mechanic discover a white 1963 Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of its own. Starring: Dean Jones, Michele Lee, David Tomlinson

"Footloose"

"Footloose" (1984, 2011): When a teenager gets pulled over for listening to rock-n-roll in his yellow 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, he realizes his small town is overdue for some change. Starring: Kenny Wormald (2011), Julianne Hough (2011), Dennis Quaid (2011), Kevin Bacon (1984), Lori Singer (1984), John Lithgow (1984)

"Pretty in Pink"

"Pretty in Pink" (1986): A high school misfit drives her light pink 1959 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia to the prom – a perfect accessory to her homemade, puffy-sleeved dress. Starring: Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Harry Dean Stanton

"Happy Gilmore"

"Happy Gilmore" (1996): The transformation of a hockey hack into a pro golfer takes many hilarious turns, including an attack with a white 1972 Volkswagen Super Beetle. Starring: Adam Sandler, Christopher McDonald, Julie Bowen

"50 First Dates"

"50 First Dates" (2004): An art teacher suffering from short-term memory loss drives a sunny yellow 1973 Volkswagen Thing as she goes on dates around Hawaii. Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider

"Little Miss Sunshine"

"Little Miss Sunshine" (2006): A dysfunctional family comes together as they road-trip to California in a yellow 1971 Volkswagen T2 Microbus. Starring: Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear

"Horrible Bosses"

"Horrible Bosses" (2011): Three disgruntled employees plot revenge against their oppressive bosses from a silver 2011 Volkswagen Jetta. Starring: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis

"Bumblebee"

"Bumblebee" (2018): When a teenager discovers a beat-up yellow 1967 Volkswagen Beetle in a junkyard, she unwittingly brings an extraterrestrial civil war to Earth. Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Cena

"Once Upon A Time in Hollywood"

"Once Upon A Time in Hollywood" (2019): An actor's stunt double drives a baby blue 1964 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia as he struggles to find meaningful work in the final years of Hollywood's Golden Age. Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie

"Between Two Ferns: The Movie"

"Between Two Ferns: The Movie" (2019): In his quest to earn a show on network TV, a comedian drives his 2006 Volkswagen Passat wagon across the country, interviewing celebrities along the way.

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