Vintage & Classics
The Volkswagen Beetle's blumenvasen got its start as a high-end porcelain German accessory
It's safe to say that in the 1950s and 60s, the Volkswagen Beetle had more flower power than horsepower. The affordable runaround had hit its stride in both Europe and America by then and was coming into popularity with a growing hippie crowd.
A unique feature made its debut in the 1950s inside the cabin of the Beetle - a porcelain vase. Known in German as "blumenvasen", the vase was perfect to hold one single flower close to the driver, whether it was on the dashboard, speaker grille, or windshield. Many of those first bud vases were made by high-end German porcelain manufacturers.
Volkswagen gave the New Beetle a standard acrylic vase while older models had porcelain versions of the accessory.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
According to Volkswagen,
"Beyond adding a little color and joy to daily car rides, the accessory was also a nod to the very early days of car driving. Automobile vases first started appearing in the late 1800s not as an interesting novelty, but out of necessity. The vases, often filled with fresh, fragrant flowers, were used as air fresheners to help cover engine odors and the scent of passengers themselves in pre-air conditioned interiors. The vases themselves quickly became decorative as well and were widely available in catalogs and hardware stores."
The era of the bud vase left the U.S. when Volkswagen ended Beetle sales in the country in 1978. However, 20 years later, when the Beetle made a comeback, so did they.
Known as the New Beetle, the fresh take on the classic car wasn't as simplistic as the original, nor as affordable, but did bring with it a design that was reminiscent of the years surrounding the Summer of Love. The New Beetle included a standard three-inch acrylic version of the Bug's signature vase.
The New Beetle was advertised with slogans such as, "The engine is in the front, but the heart is in the same place" and "A work of art with side air bags and a bud vase."
The bud vase was dropped when the Beetle was redesigned in 2011 but bud vases are still hot options for classic Volkswagen Beetles.
Volkswagen said goodbye to the Beetle at the end of 2019 with a poignant ad showcasing the history of the model.