For the last few decades its been nearly impossible to drive down the road without seeing the iconic Volkswagen beetle. It’s certain to say that every time you’ve seen one driving down the road it caught your interests, whether it’s due to seeing a blue punch buggy car thanks to Volkswagen’s innovation to incorporate bright pastel colors or as a kid playing the punch buggy game. Regardless of the reasoning the punch buggy has become a staple for the roads, which is a large reason why it’s sad to see this vehicle end production. Let’s look back some notable history of the punch buggy and see how much progression has been made, a give a fairwell to the 2019 Punch Buggy.
The First Punch Buggy
In 1948 the first vw beetle to gain public interest was present outside of its prototype phase. This beetle had been revised and converted from the traditional sedan style car into a 4-seat car with a convertible top. This car was fitted with the highest of innovations such as dual rear ashtrays, twin map pockets, a visor vanity mirror on the passenger’s side, rear stone shields and wheel trim rings. This car was considered “fully-loaded” with features that wouldn’t show up on other models of the beetle until 1970.
The Beginning of the VW Bug (1950 – 1959)
With the overwhelming success of the first-generation model there was high drive to create a second generation of the first model. This “Gen 2” model came with vast technical advancements such as hydraulic breaks and a folding sunroof. The rear of the car also went from a divided oval to a singular oval.
Models in the Gen 2 body life had a redesigned instrument panel, as well as a change in the location of brake lights.
Late into the second-generation body style the Punch Buggy had a staple feature added onto its exterior, with the inclusion of twin chrome tailpipes as well as a taller bumper guard. This also included another design of the instrument panel.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it (1960-1969 models)
With the significant exterior changes that took over most of the changes in the previous generation model the newer generation had a lot of changes occur under the hood. These changes included significant technical advantages thanks to the incorporation of a new engine and transmission. With an increase of the overall horsepower while keeping a similar engine size of 1.2 Liters.
The inclusion of a mechanical gas gauge was included in the car’s revision, no longer relying on a fuel tap. Advancements included a larger turn signal light as well as the inclusion of an amber tint to define the turn signal.
The next revision redesigned the body of the car to use more wasted space, allowing Volkswagen to redesign the side of the windows on the car itself. The windshields increased in overall area and became curved, as opposed to a flattened design, this also included measurements all over the unit allowing for a more modern looking car.
Thanks to the inclusion of an international audience Volkswagen redesigned their car’s safety by making improvements on the driver’s safety in accordance with American standards. Some of these include a trigger-operated outside door handles, a secondary front hood latch, collapsing steering column, soft vent window latches, rotary glove compartment latch and pictures incorporated on the instrument panel.
The last major incorporation of the 3rd generation of punch buggies came with the inclusion of a 3-speed semi-automatic gear box. Allowing the incorporation of an automatic transmission.
Time for a Change (1970-1979)
Beginning in 1970, a new Luxus package was available to consumer willing to pay a premium price. Some of the changes included the incorporation of twin map pockets, dual rear ashtrays, full carpeting, passenger-side vanity mirror and rubber bumper moldings. This also introduces optional upgrades to the car’s engine itself with a new 1500 cc model (1600 cc in America)
A year later the advancement of models split into two options. The first was the familiar model we are all used to as well as a larger model with a new larger version. Both models had an optional 1600cc engine that would output 60 hp.
In ’72 the model was improved to have an 11% larger rear window and made an industry standard incorporating the convertible engine lid.
With the success of the larger beetles introduced at the beginning of the year a new model was revise allowing for 43% more luggage capacity, showing a noticeable increase from the original model that had a small area for luggage.
Towards the end of the model’s run the front turn indicators were moved from the top of the front fenders down into the bumper.
In 1979, the last Volkswagen beetle was produced and marketed.
The NEW Beetle (1994 – 2010)
With its production being halted back in 1979 there was enough of a draw for a revitalization of the punch buggy. This car was slated to hark back to the “retro” design everyone came to know and love, but with updated internals. This vehicle was slated to call back to the original model, with exterior tropes returning such as seperate fenders, sloping headlights and large round tail lights and rounded roof line.
This model was also aligned with partnerships releasing limited run models as well as special anniversary models.
The Final Revision (2011 – 2019)
The last iteration of the beetle was formatted to be more modern looking while still referencing the original model from years prior. Major areas were changed for this revision of the beetle to all but change the way the car looks to make it a sleeker and more modern feel and to distance it from the New beetle (now old punch buggy) released a few years prior.
This generation was saturated in advertising and marketing partnerships with brands such as MTV, Xbox, Limited GSR edition and the “final edition” which is the last model slated for this iteration of the VW’s lifecycle arriving for sale in the United States in 2019.
The Punch Buggy and its cultural impact
The title may make this segment seem a lot more drastic than it really is, but with the punch buggy’s long lifecycle there is no denying its iconic model had it’s impact on pop culture. Here are just a few impacts of the car’s lifecycle in mainstream media:
The Punch Buggy Game
Created out of a game based around the slang created for the car in the peak of it popularity the punch buggy game was created sometime in the 1960’s.
The game’s simplistic natures centers around punching the arm of your friend sitting next to you on first sight of a VW beetle. The player must call out “punch buggy!” (or “slug bug”) to reference the beetles nickname, the bug.
In 2009 Volkswagen revitalized the game and incorporated it into one of their advertising campaigns. Reintroducing the game into the world.
Check out the Punch Buggy Game Rules
Probably One of the most recognizable instances of the VW Beetle being used in the media, Herbie was a sentient car that had a personality of it’s own. Multiple movies were issued for the car from 1968 all the way up to 2005. The premise centered around the same car being passed down from owner to owner and competing in races and falling in love with another sentient VW Bug.
Footloose’s iconic sports edition VW Bug, driven by both main actors of the original and the reboot, was an iconic mainstay for the advertising of the movie. With the young newcomer receiving the car as a gift from its original owner and using it throughout most of the movie.
Those Horrifying Eyelashes
With the VW Bugs front facing headlights looking familiar to eyes its no surprised that someone went on to create accessories for the car. Know that the trend would catch on is a different story entirely. With multiple manufactures creating eyelashes for cars now It should come as no surprise if you see them rolling down the road.
Safe to say its not going to be the same with out seeing the 2019 VW Beetle coming down the road. The 2019 VW Bug will go extinct however, we will miss the tradition punch buggy no punch backs tradition the most.