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.

Atlas is one of Volkswagen's top-selling models in the U.S. and though it seems like just yesterday that it debuted on the heels of the Dieselgate scandal, the automaker is already preparing to give it a facelift.

Volkswagen has confirmed that the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas will sport a revised grille, head- and taillights, and front and rear bumpers when it arrives on dealer lots later in 2020. It will also have interior upgrades, and new driver-assistance and technology features.

Many of the refreshed elements come straight from the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport's design.

The three sketches that were shown as part of the tease show a more rounded, upright, and smirking grille at the front of the Atlas. Its headlights have a straighter LED light signature. The SUV's lower fascia has changed to show a more aggressive bottom half complete with the hint of a faux skid plate alongside repositioned and smaller fog light housings. Changes at the back aren't nearly as obvious.

2021 Volkswagen Atlas

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen has released these sketches of the forthcoming 2021 Volkswagen Atlas.

VW has said that the changes add three inches to the length of the vehicle.

There aren't a lot of specifics about what potential buyers can expect from the interior upgrades but previous statements from Volkswagen indicate that there will be a new D-shaped steering wheel, an eight-inch infotainment touch screen, and wireless device charging.

Volkswagen will add new driver assistance technology to the model including adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality and low-speed lane centering.

It's likely that the public's first look at the refreshed Atlas will come in February at the Chicago Auto Show.

Volkswagen is exploring the potential of modernizing classic cars with new electric powertrains.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Classic cars sure are pretty to look at. But, they're not so great when it comes to running clean. A new movement in the classic car community looks to change that, swapping old engines for fresh electric motors.

Chevrolet highlighted the trend earlier this year on a 1962 Chevrolet C-10 pickup truck and now Volkswagen is getting in on the game, showing off a 1972 Volkswagen Type 2 Bus that has been retrofitted by EV West to include the powertrain from a VW e-Golf.

Electrified 1972 Volkswagen Type 2 Bus

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen has exchanged the powertrain in a 1972 Volkswagen Type 2 Bus for that in a 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf.

"Their passion for classic-car culture and commitment to renewable energy made EV West the ideal choice for this project," said Mathew Renna, VP G4, Volkswagen North American Region. "We thought, who better to see if the e-Golf powertrain would be the perfect fit for our older vehicles. It's great to see that the spirit of hot rodding is going to live on into the electric age."

The stock powertrain from a 2017 e-Golf features a 35.8kWh battery system that gives the Bus 125 miles of all-electric range. The powertrain sits in the rear compartment of the Bus, which previously held the vehicle's stock air-cooled 60-horsepower four-cylinder engine. The battery units are housed inside custom engineered and reinforced enclosures under the Bus's front seats where the fuel tank used to sit.

According to Volkswagen, "The independent rear suspension of the Type 2 Bay Window makes a perfect mate to the transverse driveline which is contained in a single unit that houses the 100kW synchronous AC permanent magnet electric motor, one-speed transmission and charging system."

The Bus's stock long-throw shifter now features park, reverse, neutral, drive, and regenerative braking modes. It has been fitted with a retro-inspired multifunction digital EV gauge on the dashboard.

"We are very excited to be a part of this project," said Michael Bream, Founder and CEO of EV West. "Merging a historic model from an iconic brand with the technology of today, is just one of many ways that we can step closer to a more sustainable future while continuing to enjoy our rich automotive heritage."

The Bus is painted Kansas Beige and Pastel White. It is not currently for sale.