Gringo in Guadalajara

Beetle Redux

There was a time in the United States when the Volkswagon Beetle seemed to be absolutely everywhere.  Driving down the street every third or fourth car was a Beetle, the little hump-backed alternative to a gasoline guzzler.  Indeed, no car had dominated its market niche the way the VW did for decades. But after OPEC and Middle Eastern politics forever ended America's banana boat innocence,  Toyota and the Japanese finally made it a fair contest.  Still, for years, the Beetle seemed to have the entire small car market to itself.

After discontinuing the line in 1980 in the United States, Volkswagon brought back the modern Beetle in 1998, a yuppier version of the old "get you here to there" model.  The modern replica has its own charm, but it has never dominated like its cheaper and less luxiourous cousin.  In the U.S., it is rare that you see the old Beetles nowadays and a Beetle sighting is now almost like spotting an antique.

But a trip to Mexico brings back the old days of the Beetle.  While they are not exactly every third car here, the old Beetles remain quite prominent.  This is in part because old cars hang around longer in Mexico.  It's a heaven for those rare breeds who enjoy looking for old Gremlins, Pacers and Pintos.  But more to the point, it is because production of the Beetle continued in Mexico long after the Beetles in the States were no more.  Mexican Beetle production was still going strong until July 2003, when the last one was produced in Puebla, Mexico. 

A trip down any Guadalajara street should bring a Beetle sighting within a few minutes and bring back memories for any true car lover.