Volkswagen Celebrates Beetle First Going on Sale in U.S. 65 Years Ago

By Jacob Brown | January 31, 2014
With the 2014 Volkswagen Beetle, VW is celebrating 65 years of its iconic small car in the U.S. Yup, the year 1949 saw a Volkswagen Type 1 ship into New York City for the first time, imported by Ben Pon, Sr., a Dutch businessman and the first importer of the Beetle. By 1955, Volkswagen of America had been established. And by 1960, Volkswagen had gone from a bit player in the U.S. to selling more than 300,000 cars a year. "Since its arrival in the United States 65 years ago, the Volkswagen Beetle has preserved its reputation of being more than just a car, but a symbol of uniqueness and freedom," said Michael Horn, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, in a statement. "The Beetle has become part of the cultural fabric in America and we are proud that its rich heritage continues to live with fans around the States."
The Volkswagen Beetle had been upgraded many a time since its 1949 U.S. introduction. In fact, the car was first conceptualized in 1931 as a commission from Adolf Hitler to Ferdinand Porsche and built in 1938 to build a "people's car." That car, for a time, would be called the KDF Wagen--Kraft durch Freude, or strength through joy--which was then changed to Volkswagen a short time later. After World War II, it was vastly upgraded after being taken over for a time by British leadership, whereupon the car was then readied for worldwide sale. More than 21 million units later and through many iterations, whether the various engine or body upgrades or modifications like the Myers Manx dune buggy or various sports cars based off it like the Karmann Ghia, the Volkswagen Beetle has endured. Ford's former design chief J Mays would revive the car in 1998 with the Volkswagen New Beetle, and it would again be revisited with the current-generation car, which was introduced as a 2012 model. The original-shape Bug was sold in Mexico until it ceased production in 2002. The Volkswagen Beetle is largely considered one of the most important and iconic cars ever made, creating an influx of foreign cars into what was largely a xenophobic car market in the 1950s in the U.S. It came to the U.S. as the Type 1 but will forever be known as the Beetle for its shape. Happy 65th year of seeing our shores, Volkswagen, and we hope to see the iconic car and the brand it represents thrive more in the U.S. in coming years. Source: Volkswagen