Volkwagen has announced it will be planning a big send off for the New Beetle with sales planned to cease here in Australia later this year.
Introduced into the Australian market in 2000, the New Beetle was a modern-take on the classic Beetle (1938 to 2003), but since reaching 1328 sales in its first year, it hasn’t managed to keep up the pace in the Aussie market.
The Beetle, or as it’s more affectionately known, the Bug, has been featured in many pop culture references through the ages, which has no doubt played a huge part in its cult following. Ironically, it was around the year of the Millenium Bug that the New Beetle was referenced in many TV shows, movies and music videos, which goes a long way in teaching us how far product placement can lift a brand. The Beetle even makes a few small cameo appearances in movies like Bring It On, Dude Where’s My Car and of course, Barbie’s classic pink Beetle. We also can’t forget the popular game which allowed you to punch someone every time a Beetle drove past.
So, without further ado, here are a bunch of times the ‘Punch Buggy’ (old and new) has reached our homes and forced its way into our hearts.
THE LOVE BUG (1968-2005)
This has to be one of the most famous references to the VW Beetle. Herbie, the pearl-white 1963 racer Beetle, with a mind of its own, stole the hearts of people across the world as the series, followed by movies, etched its way into people’s TV screens. Even if we are saying goodbye to sales in Australia, Herbie’s blue and red stripes and number 53 will never be forgotten. Long live Herbie.
ABBEY ROAD BY THE BEATLES (1969)
One of the famous names of all time, the cover of The Beatle’s final album as a quartet features a while Beetle to the left of Abbey Road as George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Star and John Lennon walk across the zebra crossing. At the time of the album’s release, a conspiracy that Paul McCartney was dead was aided by some ‘cues’ on the cover, including the VW’s LMW 28IF numberplate. LMW stood for ‘Linda McCartney Weeps’ and 28IF as a representation of his age IF he was alive. Obviously.
WHAT’S UP, DOC? (1972)
This classic comedy about mixed up identities that leads to a whacked adventure featuring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal features a blue Volkswagen Beetle which ends up floating in San Francisco Bay – a joke about VW’s advertising campaign promoting the Beetle’s ability to float on water. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know the scene we’re talking about. If you haven’t, you can watch it here but you need to do yourself a favour and hire this classic movie.
The Beetle makes a small appearance in the 1973 comedy starring Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. A movie about a nerd who finds himself in the future finds a VW buggy in a cave. Even after 200 years of collecting dust, the engine still starts to which Allen’s character, Miles, says “They really built these things did’t they?”. We’ll let you know in another 200 years, Miles.
Despite Bumblebee appearing as a yellow Chevrolet Camaro in the 2007 movie, the alien-robot was originally a Volkswagen Beetle in his earlier life. In the cartoon series, books and toys, Bumblebee always transformed into a yellow Beetle, well until he turned into a Gold Beetle as Goldbug.
AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME (1999)
We couldn’t do a list on iconic Beetles, particularly the New Beetle, without mentioning Austin Powers. His psychedelic Convertible Bug is the one car everyone secretly wanted to own, but no one wanted to be seen driving. Austin pulls it off though, even if he had lost his mojo.
CANDY BY MANDY MOORE (1999)
Then came the music videos which really pushed the New Beetle into life, or at least our lives. And first cab off the rank was Mandy Moore’s first video, Candy. This video clip was so impressionable to teens at the time that the green Beetle is still my first memory of the New Beetle. Mainly because I remember my parents telling me I wasn’t allowed to buy it #neverforgotten.
AARON’S PARTY (COME GET IT) BY AARON CARTER (2000)
Aaron Carter, high school dream boat. Even the girls in his 2000 video clip for Aaron’s Party loved the New Beetle. If they got an invite to Aaron Carter’s party, and they drove a VW Beetle, then obviously that’s what everyone needed to drive. No wonder the sales skyrocketed. “Ain’t nobody do it like Aaron can”. Apparently.
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (2004)
This MA-rated saucy movie had teenage boys hiding the DVDs world-wide. When Danielle, the porn star, moves in next door, a love affair begins. The only thing we were falling in love with in this movie was Danielle’s robin blue convertible Volkswagen Beetle.
BYE BYE BYE, N*SYNC (2000)
And last but certainly not least, it seemed appropriate to finish the list on this famous song by N*Sync. If you blink, you’ll probably miss the yellow buggy’s appearance during the car chase scene. But it’s there. At 3.22 minutes. Bye, bye, bye Beetle indeed.