Heritage

VW bids farewell to the Beetle on ‘Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020’

The Beetle says goodbye tonight during New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Beetle has been synonymous with the Volkswagen brand practically since the beginning. Despite there being other memorable models in the VW lineup over the last 70 years, the Beetle remains an icon.

Tonight, on New Year's Eve, Volkswagen is bidding a fond "auf wiedersehen" to the car with a short film, to be played during "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020" on ABC. Titled "The Last Mile", the film is an animated take on a the story of a boy whose life has been influenced by the Beetle.

Beetle The Last Mile "The Last Mile" captures the emotions surrounding a life well lived with the Beetle by a man's side.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

"The Beetle is easily one of the most recognizable cars in the history of automobiles," said Saad Chehab, senior vice president, brand marketing, Volkswagen. "Honoring it properly required a medium with just as much versatility and universal appeal as the car itself. While we chose the classic Beetle as the star of the animation, additional campaign components in Times Square honor the latter two generations of cars and their place and presence in American culture. We are proud of our past but our eye is on the future – hence our choice of New Year's Eve to hint at our upcoming long-range EV and the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport."

Eagled eyed watchers will 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.

You may want to grab the tissues.

The advertisement ends with the Beetle flying into the heavens and a new vision of the next generation of Volkswagen vehicles appearing.

If you don't want to wait until it airs on TV, you can view it here.

The Last Mile | Beetle Video courtesy of YouTube

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The King Ranch trim level has been added to the Ford Explorer lineup for 2021.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The 2021 Ford Explorer is getting a King Ranch trim level. The midsize SUV's new grade combines rugged appearance and premium appointments for a look befitting the Texas ranch's name. Ford currently sells King Ranch versions of the Expedition, F-150, and Super Duty as well.

"In 1853, Captain Richard King bootstrapped the King Ranch in the harsh landscape of southern Texas until it became a shining example of agricultural and livestock innovation and success," said Lee Newcombe, Ford Explorer marketing manager. "Ford Explorer families can now enjoy a piece of the King Ranch's renowned craftsmanship and the multi-generation legacy that still thrives 168 years after its founding."

2021 Ford Explorer King Ranch

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

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The Explorer King Ranch gets a Stone Gray-painted mesh grille insert, 20-inch aluminum wheels with Running W center cap, liftgate scuff plate, King Ranch badging, and quad chrome exhaust tips.

It is powered by a 3.0-liter EcoBoost engine that delivers 365 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The new version of the Explorer adds a standard Class III Trailer Tow Package, which makes the SUV capable of towing up to 5,600 pounds.

The interior of the new model gets mahogany-colored Mesa Del Rio perforated leather seats. The leather extends to the armrest. Both areas wear the King Ranch Running W logo. Leather door trim rollovers, a leather-wrapped and stitched instrument panel, Sapele wood appliqués, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with Norias stitching and a Salepe wood insert add sophistication.

"Introducing King Ranch's specialty leather, genuine wood, crafted details and signature colors to Ford Explorer elevates the SUV's brand," said Janet Seymour, Ford color and materials manager. "The warm, earthy Norias colorway, natural open pore wood appliqués and rope perforation design on the seats are just a couple ways we were able to bring the King Ranch lifestyle to a whole new group of customers."

Introducing the 2021 Explorer King Ranch® Edition | Explorer | Ford www.youtube.com

Buyers can add the Premium Technology Package to the model, which will give them multi-contour seats with massage functionality, a 10.1-inch informant touch screen, and a 14-speaker B&O Sound System.

Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+ is standard on the model.

The Explorer King Ranch edition will start at $52,350 for rear-wheel-drive configuration and $54,350 MSRP for four-wheel drive models. It will be available in dealerships this spring.

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Volkswagen has added new model to its Enthusiast Fleet.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen

Volkswagen has a number of enthusiast concept vehicles planned for 2021. The first is a Jetta GLI that revives the spirit of the rare Mk4 Blue Lagoon GLI.

Since 1984, Volkswagen has been offering a sportier version of the traditional Jetta, called the Jetta GLI. The company took the same approach to it as it took to the Golf GTI but added the benefits of a sedan. In 2002 VW released the GTI 337, a limited special edition model - just 1,500 were produced. It was outfitted with 18-inch BBS RC wheels, RECARO seats, and a Votex body kit, the car served as a design jumping off point for the next-generation GLI.

That next-gen model, with GLI spec, would arrive in 2004. The Mk4 Jetta GLI brought sporty driving to the U.S. market with a body kit, wheels, and seats that were similar to the 2002 model. It was released with a Blue Lagoon paint job that, for reasons not made totally clear, was soon replaced by a medium dark shade of blue called Jazz Blue.

2021 Volkswagen Enthusiast Fleet: Jetta GLI

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

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"The Jetta GLI has been an enthusiast favorite throughout its 37-year history," said Sean Maynard, Enthusiast and Motorsport Marketing Specialist. "Paying tribute to the Mk4 with this build concept celebrates the passion that goes into these vehicles."

VW is honoring the rare model by modifying a 2021 Jetta GLI Autobahn, with a manual transmission, natch, into the fan favorite for the annual Enthusiast Fleet. Andres Valbuena, former Volkswagen product launch manager lead the team and executed the modifications in just over a month.

The car started its life as a 2021 Jetta GLI coated in Deep Black Pearl paint. Its new Blue Lagoon exterior color is courtesy of a vinyl wrap, which was color matched using a fuel filler door off a 2004 GLI. After looking through the inventory of numerous suppliers, Vlabuena found the perfect blue - ORAFOL Midnight Blue Metallic. The wrap has been installed on the entire car, including interior door jambs and side body pieces.

Air Design installed the car's exterior side skirts and rear trunk spoiler and Fifteen52 was tasked with installing a Critical Aero Design (CAD) front lower spoiler. AlphaParts found the BBS CH-R 20-inch alloy wheels the car needed to be complete and wrapped with Continental ExtremeContact Sport 235/35Z R20XL 90Y tires, and upgraded the car's original suspension to now include an H&R Springs Street Performance Coil Over suspension.

Inside the vehicle, RECARO Ergomed ES leather front seats, and a Black Forest Industries weighted golf ball shift knob.

"The color is incredible," said Valbuena. "The Recaro's, wheels, and styling changes are amazing, but when you see it outside in the sun that color is something else."

You can catch the one-of-a-kind model, along with the rest of the 2021 Volkswagen Enthusiast Fleet, at enthusiast events around the country this year.

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