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Karmann Ghia     Beetles built before 1953 (and some during that year) looked almost identical to the KdF Wagen designed before WWII. Midway in 1953, Volkswagen changed the rear split windows of the Beetles, and added a slightly larger oval window. This oval window was said to increase visibility out of the rear of the car up to 33%. By 1955, Volkswagen came out with a new model called the Karmann Ghia. It used many parts from the Beetle to keep production cheaper, and less complex. The Karmann Ghia was a joint venture by companies Karmann (builds VW Beetle cabriolets) and Ghia.

differences between split window Beetle and oval window Beetle     Volkswagen production kept increasing through the late 1950s. In 1958, the larger rear window that most people see in Beetles today (Ovals and Splits are much more rare than the larger window Beetles) was adopted. In each year, minor changes were made to the Beetle, and the other cars in Volkswagen's lineup, but nothing very drastic. Different turn signals were added, slightly improved engines, and other small things were common in the year to year changes. Volkswagen also had a very successful advertising campaign in the 1960s which helped contribute to its success in the United States. The Disney movie, Herbie, also helped promote the Beetle. The Herbie movies portrayed the Beetle as a "love bug." Later in the 1960s, Volkswagen produced over one million Beetles each year. 1969 was the most productive year for Volkswagen.

'67 Beetle next to a '38 KdF Wagen     After the Beetle's boom years in the late 1960s, its sales began to decline. In 1967, the transporter underwent major design changes, and in 1969 on US Export Beetles, VW added CV joints in the rear of the car in an effort to improve high speed stability on American highways. The traditional swingaxle system worked Ok, but at high speeds tended to lose stability. In 1971, Volkswagen developed a *new* car called the Super Beetle. The Super Beetle had modern MacPherson struts in the front instead of the older transverse beam arrangement it had since the 1930s: this new suspension allowed the trunk to be deeper, thus creating more luggage space in the front trunk. The Super Beetles of '71 had the same windshields as the standard Beetles did, but from '72-'74, a wrap around curved windshield was implemented. These were the only Beetles to have anything in the way of a real dashboard. Super Beetles were smoother cruisers on the highway, but did not make good Baja Beetle platforms. Ever increasing US government regulations on safety and emissions controls pushed the Beetle to its limits. The Beetle could not be adapted to keep up with the other cars in the industry. Volkswagen stopped production of the Beetle sedan in 1977, and stopped production of the cabriolet in 1979.

Beetles swarming in Mexico     However, the Beetle was still thriving in Mexico and South America. Volkswagen of Brazil continued building Beetles and VW Vans until 1993. Volkswagen of Mexico still hasn't stopped building Beetles! In fact, the Beetle is by far the most popular car in Mexico. Take a look at the picture to see a common view of a Mexican street: count the Beetles.


Due to the size of the monitor I have been using, It has been very difficult to think and make this page at the same time. I am sure I have left out several key elements in VW's history, so make sure you check back every few weeks to see if there are any new spots here and there. Thanks for reading!.
 
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