Heritage

Volkswagen at 70: Do you remember these models?

Volkswagen vehicles have been sold in the U.S. for the last 70 years.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

In 1949, Ben Pon, a Dutch businessman, arrived in New York with precious cargo - two Volkswagen Type 1 models, later known as the Beetle. Pon was one of the first to attempt to sell a Volkswagen to Americans and now, 70 years on, 17 million have been sold.

Let's take a trip down memory lane.

1949 Volkswagen Beetle

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

In post-World War II Europe, the Volkswagen Beetle was well on its way to being one of the most popular vehicles on the continent. Its efficient packaging and air-cooled engine helped it win a fan base. The 25-horsepower Beetle shown here is identical to the one Pon first imported to the U.S. in 1949.

1954 Volkswagen Type 2 Bus

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Telefunken, a German radio company, painted their logo on the side of the Volkswagen Type 2 Bus and used it as a delivery van. This is the Panel Delivery version of the Bus, which features a modified version of the Beetle's floorpan and the same 30-hp flat-four engine.

1963 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

German coach builder Karmann built this Volkswagen coupe, adding sporty style to the German automaker's lineup. Like the Type 2 Bus before it, the Karmann Ghia used the same engine as the Beetle, a 34-horsepower four-cylinder, for the 1963 model year.

1967 Volkswagen Type 2 21-Window Bus

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

This is a copy of the highly sought-after 21-Window "Samba" version of the Volkswagen Type 2 21-Window Bus. It features a white-on-orange paint scheme. In the U.S., 23-window variants were known as the Sunroof Deluxe. Instead of a sliding door, the Samba as two pivot doors.

1973 Volkswagen Squareback

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Like the modern crossover, the Squareback wagon sought to prove that smaller vehicles would still haul a family. This '73 has storage under the hood and in the back. The model has 65 horsepower and was one of the first vehicles to have fuel injection technology.

1973 Volkswagen Thing

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

This Thing wasn't designed to be part of the Addams family. The original concept was meant to be a military vehicle European nations. Called the Type 181, that model was off-road friendly. By the time the vehicle came to the U.S., the 46-horsepower convertible was marketed as "Thing."

1977 Volkswagen Dasher

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Dasher was designed to be a more premium model than the Beetle. Known as the Passat in Europe, the Dasher came in sedan, hatchback, and wagon variants. It was front-wheel drive and powered by a water-cooled four-cylinder engine that achieved 78 horsepower. Volkswagen produced the car for sale in the U.S. as the B1 from 1973-1981. It was the sister model of the Audi 80.

1979 Volkswagen Super Beetle

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Super Beetle marked the end of the original Beetle era. It was the last of original generation to be sold in the U.S. The Type 1 continued to be manufactured for sale at the company's Puebla, Mexico plant until 2003, 65 years after it for launched. This model is owned by Volkswagen and has less than 1,000 miles on its 48 horsepower four-cylinder engine.

1981 Volkswagen Scirocco

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The less-sexy Scirocco succeeded the Karmann Ghia in Volkswagen's lineup. It was a Giugiaro-designed coupe that started production in 1974 and ended its run in 1982, only to be revived in 2008. The Scirocco's production ended in 2017. This 74-hosepower model had fewer than 1,000 miles on it.

1982 Volkswagen Jetta Mk1

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen offered the Jetta as a sedan alternative to the Golf/Rabbit. The first generation of the model delivered European design and fuel efficiency. Soon after its debut in 1979 the model became the best-selling European car in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Its 76-horsepower engine was paired with either a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission.

1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The 1974, Volkswagen became selling the Golf MK1 as a front-wheel-drive, long-range replacement for the Beetle. It was known as the Volkswagen Rabbit GTI in the U.S. The Golf is still produced today for sale around the world.

1998 Volkswagen Beetle "New Beetle"

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Beetle returned as a modern car in 1997. It contained some of the quirky attributes that played on the heritage of the model including a dashboard-mounted flower bud vase. The New Beetle was in production until July 2019 as the automaker began to shift toward more electric vehicle production.

2019 Volkswagen Atlas

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Production of the Volkswagen Atlas began in 2017 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The three-row SUV was brought to market as a 2018 model. The Atlas is known as the Volkswagen Teramont in China, the Middle East, Russia, Mexico, and Rwanda.

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Kia is offering the Sorento SUV in a hybrid form for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

New car prices keep going up so it was only a matter of time before the average new car price hit the $40,000 threshold. New quarterly analysis by Edmunds showed that the average amount borrowed for a new car in the fourth quarter of 2020 was $35,373. Buyers put an average of $4,734 down on top of that, which makes the average new car price $40,107.

Paying around $40,000 is a sweet spot in the market. It gets buyers into lower cost luxury and premium models as well as most of the mass market offerings. AutomotiveMap has put together a list of the best vehicles you can get for around the $40,000 mark.

2021 Acura TLX

2021 Acura TLX Advance

Photo courtesy of Acura

Price: $37,500
The Acura TLX debuted as a completely redesigned car for the 2021 model year bringing with it a new sportiness and fresh styling outside and in. The TLX is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Its cabin is quite nice - decked out in leatherette upholstery with 12-way power-adjustable and heated front seats. Dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, a 10-speaker audio system, satellite radio, two USB ports, a 10.2-inch infotainment touch screen, seven-inch driver information display, Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto make up just some of the items on the standard features list.

Editor's Note: Acura doesn't sell the TLX in a variety of trim levels. Instead, buyers choose the TLX then can add on packages to get what they want. The model described here has no package add-ons. Pictured: 2021 Acura TLX Advance

2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn

2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Price: $39,490
Configure the 2021 Ram 1500 Big Horn with two-wheel drive, a crew cab, and 5'7" box to get one of the best trucks at the price point. It comes standard with Ram's tried and true 3.6-liter V6 engine, which provides a good amount of power. Cloth seating for six passengers and a five-inch infotainment screen is standard as well.

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands

2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Price: $32,660
The Ford Bronco Sport Badlands trim is the most off-road capable version of the SUV, and it's no slouch. The model is powered by a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, off-road suspension, advanced four-wheel drive with a twin-clutch rear-drive unit, a Terrain Management System with G.O.A.T. modes, metal bash plates, Trail Control, a 180-degree front camera with washer, front tow hooks, and rubberized flooring. The SUV rides on 17-inch Carbonized Gray-painted aluminum wheels wrapped in 28.5-inch all-terrain tires.

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX

2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid EX

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Price: $36,590
The new-for-2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid comes in just two trim levels: S and EX. The upgraded EX model gets an EPA-estimated 37 mpg and has 227 total system horsepower. The features list for the Sorento Hybrid EX is long and includes a power liftgate, fog lights, a panoramic sunroof, and wireless phone charger. It also comes with a host of safety and driver assist technologies like adaptive cruise control and forward collision avoidance assist.

2021 Genesis G70 2.0T

2021 Genesis G70 Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Price: $36,000
The Genesis G70 is a sports sedan you probably haven't seen that much on roads near you, but you should. They should be everywhere. For under $40,000, buyers can get their hands on a rear-wheel drive G70 2.0T with a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that produces 252 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It has the buyer's choice of gray or black leatherette upholstery.

2021 Honda Ridgeline RTL

2021 Honda Ridgeline Sport

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Price: $39,470
The Ridgeline might not be a typical truck in the looks category, but for the 2021 model year the Honda has gotten some aesthetic beef thanks to a design refresh. The truck continues to have a trunk in its bed and now comes standard with the Honda Sensing suite of safety and driver assist technologies. Power comes from the truck's 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 that is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.The Ridgeline is most noted for its refined and comfortable interior that's more SUV-like than truck-like. For 2021, that has only improved. The RTL grade (Ridgeline Sport is shown above) is a step up from the base model.

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Touring

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Price: $39,995
The Chrysler Pacifica is presently the best minivan you can buy. Its Hybrid version (shown above in the Pinnacle grade) adds plug-in electric capability to the equation offering over 30 miles of gasoline-free driving per charge and running like a typical hybrid when the battery has been depleted or the van needs some extra oomph. With the Pacifica Hybrid Touring buyers get their choice of a number of included paint colors, 17-inch machined aluminum wheels with gray pockets wrapped in all-season tires, premium cloth bucket seats in black or cognac, and a 10.1-inch infotainment touch screen.

2021 Acura RDX

2019 Acura RDX Advance

Photo courtesy of Acura

Price: $38,400
Acura sells gobs of RDXs and it's really no mystery as to why. The SUV is fun to drive, has abundant cargo space, and is easy on the eyes. Add in the comfortable seats that offer plenty of space, and the RDX turns into one of the best family haulers out there, empty nest or not. The 2021 RDX rides on standard 19-inch glitter silver wheels, gets its power from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 272 horsepower, and has a host of infotainment features like a nine-speaker audio system, two USB ports, HD Radio, a 10.2-inch infotainment system touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and satellite radio. Buyers ca opt for all-wheel drive, which puts the vehicle just a tick over the $40,000 mark.

Editor's Note: Acura doesn't sell the RDX in a variety of trim levels. Instead, buyers choose the RDX then can add on packages to get what they want. The model described here has no package add-ons. Shown: 2019 Acura RDX Advance

2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Price: $35,300
Not only does the fanciest and most tech-forward Hyundai Sonata Hybrid you can buy get 47 mpg, it also has a solar roof. It also doesn't lack oomph, with 192 horsepower from its propulsion system at the ready. The car has a 12.3-inch fully-digital gauge cluster and a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen. It also sports plenty of head- and legroom, cargo space, and forward visibility. Pricing for the sedan includes checking nearly every option box, which is standard for the Limited model.

2021 Kia Telluride EX

2020 Kia Telluride

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Price: $37,590
Kia is selling the Telluride like gangbusters and it's not hard to see why. The three-row SUV comes standard with a 3.8-liter V6 that supplies plenty of power. Its roster of standard features on the EX trim level includes a power liftgate, 18-inch alloy wheels, Driver Talk, Quiet Mode, a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen, wireless smartphone charging, six USB ports, leather-trimmed seats, and more. Add all-wheel drive for just $2,000 more.

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Bruce Pascal is one of the most devoted Hot Wheels collectors on the planet.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

The first Hot Wheels arrived in stores in 1968 and it wasn't long until they became the number one toy. Bruce Pascal was seven years old at the time and remembers the toy immediately becoming popular with his circle of friends.

"It's hard to explain the craze today, but Hot Wheels was huge. All of my friends were saving up to buy all the Hot Wheels they could," Pascal said.

While he was growing up, Pascal, like kids across the country, kept his Hot Wheels in a cigar box. As he grew up, the cigar box gathered more dust, sitting on a shelf for 30 years until Pascal rediscovered the collection in 1999.

Volkswagen Beach Bomb Hot Wheels The pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb is the most sought-after Hot Wheels car in the world. Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

"That excited feeling I had as a boy was rekindled instantly," said Pascal. "My friend offered to pay me $200 for the cigar box. I declined and held onto them, but it was his offer that made me start researching the value of Hot Wheels and pursuing collecting as an adult."

His search became a bit obsessive. Pascal began calling other collectors, taking out newspaper ads, and even used a 1969 telephone book of Mattel employees to see if any former workers had rare toys they would be willing to part with for a price. He collected everything he could, including Hot Wheels memorabilia like blueprints, original drawings, sales brochures, and wood models.

His collection grew from that cigar box to thousands of Hot Wheels. Yet Pascal was not satisfied. He still had not found the one Hot Wheels vehicle that was alluding him, the most valuable Volkswagen ever produced - the pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb prototype.

The model was a bit of a folly. When VW and Hot Wheels initially created it, the car's narrow body and surf boards out the back window made the vehicle unable to stay upright when rolled. So, it was redesigned and the sides became more weighted and the surfboards were moved to the sides of the vehicle. This was the model that made it into production. The Beach Bomb was sold with a sticker sheet of flowers to decorate the vehicle, an offering that was very of its time.

Volkswagen Beach Bomb Hot Wheels There are only two of the pink models in existence.Photo courtesy of Bruce Pascal

The original prototypes with the surfboards out the back window are extremely rare, as only Hot Wheels employees had access to them. Of these prototypes, the pink ones are the rarest of all. There are only two known to be in existence.

"I already had heard about [the Beach Bomb] in purple, green, red, light blue and gold. I even had heard about an unpainted model," said Pascal. "But pink was extremely hard to find. Most Hot Wheels models were marketed to young boys, who the brand assumed didn't want to play with pink. They created just a few pink [Beach Bomb] models to market to their female audience."

Eventually, Pascal networked his way into purchasing both pink Beach Bombs models. He has since sold one of them to another friend and collector, but the one that is in the best condition has stayed with him.

Today, Pascal owns over 4,000 Hot Wheels models and about 3,000 pieces of memorabilia, but the pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb remains his most prized possession.

"I won't say how much I purchased it for," said Pascal, "but it is worth an estimated $150,000 today."

To help prevent sun damage, the Beach Bomb remains in a dark, Plexiglass case. Pascal displays the model in his personal museum in Maryland, where he gives private tours to other Hot Wheels enthusiasts. He has also loaned the model out to other automotive museums and events for display.

"I want other people to experience the Beach Bomb. I've found so much joy in learning about classic cars and Hot Wheels, and I hope I can spark some of that in other people. It's a treasure to find these rare models," Pascal said.

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