21,529,464 copies. That’s how many VW Beetles rolled off the assembly line before production ended in 2003. This makes the Type 1 the most built car in the world, which has hardly changed optically. Exactly 50 years ago, on February 17, 1972, the Beetle trumped the Ford Model T and was crowned world champion.
On that day, the 15.007.034 was running in hall 12 of the Wolfsburg plant. mass-produced Beetles off the assembly line, thereby breaking the production record of the Model T built by the Ford Motor Company. To mark this milestone in the history of Volkswagen, the Autostadt is now presenting both vehicles on the piazza.
Armin Maus, CEO of the Autostadt: “Exactly 50 years ago, the Volkswagen Beetle overtook the Model T and set an important milestone as the new ‘number world champion’. We are very proud to have both vehicles in our ZeitHaus collection and making corporate history tangible in the Autostadt.”
Admittedly, that 1302 from February 1972 was already a long way from the original Beetle of 1938, both technically and visually. Nevertheless, certain basics were still the same: the rounded body including fenders and running boards or the four-cylinder boxer in the rear. In the meantime, a VW Golf or a Toyota Corolla have easily surpassed the 21.5 million of the Beetle, but here the first edition and the current model only have the name in common.
Volkswagen took the Beetle’s production record as an opportunity to launch a special model: the “World Champion” series was offered from February 19 to March 31, 1972. More than 6,000 customers then opted for the special model in the color “Marathon metallic”, which the “Colors and Fabrics” department created especially for them.
Compared to the 1302 basic version, the world champion Beetle also received sporty rims from the Lemmerz company in Königswinter, halogen headlights, a double-tone horn, reversing lights and a heated rear window. The black corduroy seats were also part of the special model, as were the dashboard upholstery and the practical extras such as footwell mats and protective rubber strips on the bumpers.
In addition, Weltmeister buyers received a charming selection of accessories: in addition to a works certificate, there was a sticker, a key fob, a pendant and a gold medal with the inscription “The Weltmeister”. If all this is still available, the special Beetle fetches good collector’s prices.