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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Improved hot hatch

The 2022 VW Golf GTI gets new handling tech

Improvements to the GTI's handling and steering should make it even faster in the curves.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the most recognizable and popular cars the automaker sells. After a bumpy few years that ended with the standard Golf model being nixed from VW's U.S catalog, we're starting to see concrete details on the upcoming performance variants of the car, which will thankfully end up heading our way. The eighth-generation Golf GTI and Golf R will make landfall in the United States as 2022 models, and will both feature a load of new tech and refinements. VW just announced the changes that are being made to the GTI's handling and performance systems, and they are extensive, to say the least.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI VW is offering the 8th-gen Golf only in high-performance GTI and R configurations.Volkswagen


Volkswagen is giving the legendary hot hatch a host of improvements, which the automaker says will give the car more precise, stable handling at its limit. The GTI's front suspension has been reconfigured with new wishbone bearings and damping hydraulics. VW says that the car's springs and buffer stops have also been revised, which will give the font axle spring rate that is five percent higher than its predecessor. A new aluminum subframe is also in place, which will reduce weight by seven pounds over the previous car.

The eighth-generation Golf brought a new VW Vehicle Dynamics Manager system which will also benefit the upcoming GTI. The system integrates the car's electronic stability control with its electronic differentials, and in GTI models equipped with the optional DCC adaptive damping system, the system adjusts individual wheel damping up to 200 times per second. The differential itself will now come standard with all GTI models. It's an electronically-controlled torque-sensing limited-slip unit, which varies the levels of its intervention based on how the car is being driven and on how the other traction control functions are being used.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI The GTI's steering is now more responsive.Volkswagen


The GTI's steering system has also been revised to now include an enhanced progressive steering function that uses software to help turn the vehicle with less steering effort, depending on speed. Volkswagen says that the GTI's steering takes just 2.1 turns of the steering wheel to go from lock to lock when it's equipped with 18-inch wheels.

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The LEGO Speed Champions series is adding two new Dodge models to its lineup.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The new LEGO Speed Champions series is expanding by two. A 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A and Mopar Dodge//SRT Top Fuel Dragster are being added to the growing collection. They are the first purple vehicle and first Top Fuel Dragster in the Speed Champion series.

"Owning, or aspiring to own, a Dodge muscle car is as much about the lifestyle of joining the Brotherhood of Muscle as it is about the vehicle purchase," said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge Brand Chief Executive Officer – Stellantis. "As a result, our brand enthusiasts are passionate about all things Dodge, including the latest cool collectibles. So, following the success of the Dodge 2018 LEGO Speed Champion building set, fans will now be able to build and show off not only the first ever 8-inch-wide (8W) muscle car, but also the first ever Plum Crazy 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A, along with an incredibly detailed 13½-long Top Fuel Dragster."

LEGO Speed Champions Dodge box The 627-piece Challenger T/A and Dragster include box art of their Rea-life counterparts. Photo courtesy of Stellantis

LEGO has had the Challenger over two inches high, five inches long, and 2.5 inches wide. The Dragster is four inches high thanks to its wing, and has a body that is 13.5 inches long and 2.5 inches wide.

The set features a male Challenger driver in Dodge-branded clothing. The Dragster has a female driver in a Dodge race suit.

"In 2021, we are extremely excited to reteam with Dodge and expand the Speed Champions 8W Vehicle Collection even further by including new vehicle types and building experiences, for the first time, that appeal to vehicle fans of all ages," said Christopher Stamp, LEGO Design Lead.

LEGO Speed Champions Dodge The set includes two models.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The models will be released on June 1, 2021 at LEGO.com. Pricing for the models is not yet available.

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