Retrospective

It's been 65 years since VW rolled a gold and rhinestone Beetle off the line in Germany

Volkswagen created this one-off Beetle to celebrate a signninficannt anniversary.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The one-millionth Volkswagen recently rolled off the line at the company's Chattanonoga, Tennessee plant. It's been 65 years since the same thing happened in Wolfsburg, Germany.

The factory first opened in 1938. Due to regulations put in place by the German government then American occupation in the lead up to and throughout World War II, the factory did not gear up to produce civilian vehicles en masse until after the war was over.

Volkswagen Wolfsburg line Volkswagen produced the Beetle and Bus at the plant following World War II.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Leadership by British Army officer Major Ivan Hirst saved the plant from complete ruin. Hirst convinced the British government to place an order for military vehicles with the plant. Slowly, as Europe worked to recover from the warn, Volkswagen began creating a sales network.

In the early 1950s, the Wolfsburg facility began assembling the Beetle and the Bus.

By 1955 the Beetle was one of the most popular vehicles ever made. To celebrate the one-millionth vehicle milestone Volkswagen hatched a plan to celebrate the moment by producing a gold-painted Beetle whose bumpers were lined with rhinestones.

Volkswagen 1 millionth plant The company had 150,000 people join in a ceremony to celebrate the 1 millionth vehicle produced at the plant.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The car rolled off the assembly line in a celebration with nearly 150,000 people joining in for the festivities.

The golden, one-millionth Beetle now makes its home in Wolfsburg's AutoStadt Museum.

Just 17 years later, on February 17, 1972, Volkswagen broke the record for the total production of a vehicle surpassing the Ford Model T. The Model T was produced between 1908 and 1927.

Volkswagen had produced its 16 millionth Beetle by 1973 and on June 23, 1992, they company reached the 21 million mark.

VW bid farewell to its iconic Beetle on December 31, 2019 with a short film that aired during "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020". The film, called "The Last Mile" featured a number of moments from the Beetle's history. Eagled eyed watchers can nview the film and see numerous pop culture references throughout the film including cameos from Kevin Bacon's character in "Footloose", an astronaut, and artist Andy Warhol. There's a sign proclaiming that its "Not a Lemon" and a cameo from Bravo TV host Andy Cohen in the 90-second spot.

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Interesting backstory

Volkswagen Bus part inspired popular dog toy

The classic VW Bus inspired one of the most popular dog toys of all time.

Volkswagen

Product designs sometimes take inspiration from the places we expect the least. Moments of genius are driven by finding solutions to unique problems, and as it turns out, that's exactly how we ended up with KONG. The beefy, durable dog chew toy is modeled after a Volkswagen Bus part.

Joe Markham's shop Markham needed a dog for security, but he unexpectedly got a chew-crazy pet.Volkswagen

KONG's inventor, Joe Markham, adopted a German Shepherd to help with security at his auto repair shop in downtown Denver, CO. The dog, while a great addition to the shop, came with a few bad habits. The dog's most worrisome hobby was chewing, which he would do with almost anything he could find, especially rocks. As you might imagine, chewing on rocks is not good for the dog's teeth. Markham needed a durable chew toy, but nothing seemed to work, from animal bones to radiator hoses.

The solution came from an unlikely place: While working on a 1960sVW Type 2 Bus, Markham discovered that the rubber axle stop made a perfect chew toy. The dog had gotten ahold of the rubber stop, and while he was chewing viciously, neither the stop nor his teeth were damaged.

The discovery led Markham to spend the next six years experimenting with various rubbers, sizes, and shapes for his dog toy. After working with rubber experts in Germany, the design was finalized and the KONG was born. The shape for the toy ended up being very close to that of the axle stop. The funky, bulbous design meant that the toy wouldn't bounce like a ball, and would instead flop around randomly, which is similar to the way that small animals run away from predators.

VW Bus axle stop The axle stop from a VW Bus inspired KONG's shape.Volkswagen

It's worth noting that you should not intentionally let your dog chew on any part of your vehicle. Even unused automotive parts can contain chemicals and other harmful materials that could make your dog sick or worse. This isn't a pitch to buy a KONG, just a warning about the hazards of car parts being used as dog toys.

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The new Tiguan sports an all-new front-end design.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Tiguan is an interesting compact SUV with a fun-to-drive personality and plenty of style. After 14 years on sale, the Tiguan is just in its second generation, but VW has given it a significant update for the 2022 model year that brings new tech, updated styling, and a refreshed interior.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The rear has been massaged with new badging and standard LED taillights. Volkswagen

The restyled Tiguan is available in four trim levels: S, SE, and SE R-Line Black. All models get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, but VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive can be optioned in.

Styling updates are the big story for the 2022 Tiguan. The front end is entirely new and carries design cues from the larger Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. LED headlights are now standard, and an illuminated light line is available for the SUV's grille. On the rear liftgate, the Tiguan model name lettering also mirrors that of the Atlas, with the name spelled out underneath the VW logo.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan Most trims get an 8-inch touchscreen.Volkswagen

Inside, the Tiguan now comes standard with heated seats, while a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats are available. Cloth upholstery is standard, while mid-range trims get leatherette. The top SEL R-Line comes with leather and a perforated leather-wrapped sport steering wheel. Front-wheel drive models come standard with three rows of seating as well, making the Tiguan one of the more family-friendly vehicles in its class.

2022 Volkswagen Tiguan The top trim gets upscale leather upholstery.Volkswagen

The base Tiguan S comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen running Volkswagen's excellent MIB 2 software, but all others get MIB 3 infotainment software running on a glass-covered 8.0-inch touchscreen. The automaker notes that it's a capacitive touch system, which functions more like a smartphone than other infotainment systems, which sometimes require pressure to register a touch input. All Tiguans get a digital gauge cluster with an 8-inch display, while the top SEL R-Line upgrades to a 10.25-inch configurable gauge cluster that offers full-screen navigation and other views.

Pricing for the 2022 Volkswagen Tiguan starts at $25,995 for the base S trim with front-wheel drive. Adding all-wheel drive pushes the prices to $27,495. All Tiguan models will see a $1,195 destination charge tacked on at the bottom line.

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