Volkswagen Beetle : The Evolution of the ‘People’s Car’

Volkswagen Beetle Herbie

Affectionately known in Malaysia as kereta (car) ‘kura-kura’ (tortoise), ‘labi-labi’(terrapin) or ‘katak’(frog), Volkswagen Beetle is a world-known vehicle.

Kids, however, may know it as ‘Herbie’ due to the 2005 Disney movie titled ‘Herbie’.

According to the Encyclopedia of Cars by Peter Henshaw (Published by Grange Books : 2003), ‘Volkswagen Beetle was the world’s most popular car, for it overtook the Ford Model T in terms of numbers in 1972’.

It was on February 17, 1972, that the Volkswagen Beetle broke the world car production record with an amazing 15,007,034 units produced worldwide, surpassing the legendary mark achieved by the Ford Motor Company’s famous Model T in quantity and in fewer years of production.

Volkswagen Beetle

Historically, the Volkswagen Beetle was the result of both Adolf Hitler (yes, one of the world’s most infamous guy) and Ferdinand Porsche’s (a famously superb automobile engineer) ambition to build a ‘people’s car’.  It was in May 1934 that Hitler invited Porsche to submit designs for a ‘Volkswagen’ at less than half the price of the cheapest car then available.

In 1936, the first prototype was tested.

But with World War II, only 210 cars were built.  After the war, production was resumed by the British Army and 2,000 vehicles were built in 1945 from parts found in the factory’s rubble (the factory miraculously survived the bombings).

By 1961, the 5,000,000th Beetle was built, and from then on, more than a million were built each year.

Actually, when the Volkswagen Beetle was first imported to the U.S.,  many American disliked it.  Well, obviously, it looked like a bug, and among others, it made a lot of noise, did not have a synchromesh transmission, much less chrome trim, nor did it have a radio or gas gauge, it wasn’t heated, and similar to Ford’s “Tin Lizzie,” it was only available in one color, grey.

Sales were actually nil, partially due to a still lingering anti-German sentiment following the war and the ‘American spirit’ which preferred the American brands.

But probably due to the advent of Rock and Roll, the swinging 50’s, the change in attitude, etc, sales of the VW Beetle jumped from 2,000 units in 1953 to 150,000 in 1959.  With it’s fresh and creative advertising, VW Beetle had impressed and captivated the US market.  In 1968, a great year for VW, Volkswagen had a 5% share of the U.S. new car market.

The New Models

As with all other automobile companies, Volkswagen also had its ups and downs such as in the early 70s and 80s, and it bounced back by creating new models such as Passat (1973), Golf (affectionately known as the Volkswagen Rabbit) and Scirocco (1974).

More models were introduced later, such as VW Sharan, to tap into the MPV market, through a joint venture with Ford.

And with the creation of all these other models, Volkswagen Beetle became a classic.

Now, what makes the cute Beetle so special?  According to Laurence Meredith, the author of Original VW Beetle (Published by Bay View Books Ltd, 1994):

Robust engineering, classless status and depth of character made the Beetle one of the world’s biggest-selling cars.  And just like the 21 million people who bought new Beetles, today’s classic car enthusiasts are taking these individualistic cars to their hearts in ever-increasing numbers all over the world.


The New Beetle (2003)

The new Beetle 2003, which resembles the original Beetle, is way more expensive than some of the other VW  and naturally, more expensive.  Cute, sleek and stylish at the same time, it still looks good 8 years after it was launched.

For those with bigger budget and taste, have a look at the plush 2003 Beetle Cabriolet, a convertible, which does not look like the older versions of the Cabriolet.

The Beetle has surely went a long way from it humble beginning of being the ‘people’s car’ into a stylish 21st century automobile.


Volkswagen Malaysia has many authorised dealers in Malaysia such as in Johor, Kedah, Melaka, Penang, Pahang, Perak, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Wilayah Persekutuan.

Check out Volkswagen website for more info on the location address.


The prices vary for Peninsula Malaysia and East Malaysia and ranges from about slightly less than RM150,000 – RM600,000.  On-the-road prices (for East Malaysia) are : Beetle (RM142,888.00), Cross Touran (RM 170,504.00), Scirocco R (RM283, 718.00), Scirocco (RM247,718), Golf R (RM272,718.00), Sharan (RM273,687.50), Tiguan (RM240,687.50), Touareg (RM434,067.40), Touareg Hybrid (RM621,346.60) and Touareg TDI (RM492,448.00).

The said prices are as September 2012, so better visit your nearest Volkswagen Malaysia dealers for a more updated info. 

Incidentally, you can also download all the brochure at their website.

– Volkswagen Beetle : The Evolution of the ‘People’s Car’

21 thoughts on “Volkswagen Beetle : The Evolution of the ‘People’s Car’

  1. walau sudah puluahan tahun yang lalu, VW katak tetap diingat sepanjang masa, apalagi sekarang ada versi terbaru dari si “katak” ini, awesome 🙂
    tidak salah para pecinta volkswagen memiliki tagline “This is not a car, it’s Volkswagen”

  2. wah, smart VW putih tu. walaupun dah dimodenkan tapi masih lagi kekal dengan ciri2 asal. teringin jugak nak memiliki VW beetle ni macam Irfan Khairi.

  3. nak pakai tapi tak mampu, lagipun rasa rugi lak amek kereta kecik dengan harga melampau lampau ni, ( ceh nak amek pun tak mampu ) hahaa

    1. Setuju.. mcm tak worth it kan? 200k++ dgn saiz cam tu. Then again, ini keta utk bergaya jer. So, kena bayar lebih lah. Cuma dulu2 keta ni ramai yg pakai sbb murah. Maths teacher kawe pun guna. Dulu lain sekarang lain….

  4. Aku suka artikel ni..membacanya seolah-olah kita dibawa dari zaman permulaan Volkswagen sehinggalah ke hari ini..tahniah bro..keep it up..and thanks for the good info..

    1. thanks sebab sudi baca. Artikel ini diinspirasikan dari lawatan ke pameran VW a couple weeks a ago. Terkejut tgk VW Beetle skrg RM220k +++. Dulu-dulu orang2 biasa pakai keta ni. Sekarang yg berduit banyak jer…. 😀

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