On this day in auto history – May 15th

Sat 15th May 2021

It was on this day in 1981 that the 20 millionth Volkswagen Beetle rolled off a production plant in Mexico, making it the first marque in history to reach that milestone.

First designed by lead engineer Ferdinand Porsche in 1938 at the behest of Adolf Hitler, the Beetle became known as the “people’s car” owing to its affordability and boomed in popularity under West German control when mass-produced after World War II.

In February 1972 the VW Beetle smashed through the 15 million unit barrier and officially surpassed Ford’s Model T as the most produced single model in history, though it began the suffer a sales decline soon afterwards due to increased competition from more modern Japanese designs in the same sector.

With low operating costs important, mainstream production of the Beetle had switched to Brazil and Mexico in the 1980’s until the final Type 1 Beetle (car No 21,529.464) rolled off a production line in Puebla, Mexico and was immediately shipped to the Volkswagen Museum in Wolfsburg.