World 1960-1973: VW Beetle conquers the planet
First presented in 1938 but produced from 1945 onwards, the VW Type 1, or ‘Beetle’ is the most recognised car in the world. Its total production took 10 years to reach the first million (in 1955), but then its sales boomed, helped by clever advertising and iconic status among the hippie crowd.
In 1965 alone, 1 million Beetles came out of the Wolfsburg factory in Germany, and in 1971 1.3 million units were produced around the world, the highest yearly figure of its career. This means the VW Beetle should be the best selling car in the world between around 1960 and 1973 when production dropped in advance of the launch of the VW Golf.
Total Beetle production reached 15 million in 1972 to beat the Ford Model T as the most successful model in history. By 1992 it had passed 21 million, with the final figure reaching 21,529,464 when production stopped for good in Mexico in 2003.
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