The one-millionth Volkswagen recently rolled off the line at the company’s Chattanonoga, Tennessee plant. It’s been 65 years since the same thing happened in Wolfsburg, Germany.
The factory first opened in 1938. Due to regulations put in place by the German government then American occupation in the lead up to and throughout World War II, the factory did not gear up to produce civilian vehicles en masse until after the war was over.
Volkswagen produced the Beetle and Bus at the plant following World War II.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
Leadership by British Army officer Major Ivan Hirst saved the plant from complete ruin. Hirst convinced the British government to place an order for military vehicles with the plant. Slowly, as Europe worked to recover from the warn, Volkswagen began creating a sales network.
In the early 1950s, the Wolfsburg facility began assembling the Beetle and the Bus.
By 1955 the Beetle was one of the most popular vehicles ever made. To celebrate the one-millionth vehicle milestone Volkswagen hatched a plan to celebrate the moment by producing a gold-painted Beetle whose bumpers were lined with rhinestones.
The company had 150,000 people join in a ceremony to celebrate the 1 millionth vehicle produced at the plant.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
The car rolled off the assembly line in a celebration with nearly 150,000 people joining in for the festivities.
The golden, one-millionth Beetle now makes its home in Wolfsburg’s AutoStadt Museum.
Just 17 years later, on February 17, 1972, Volkswagen broke the record for the total production of a vehicle surpassing the Ford Model T. The Model T was produced between 1908 and 1927.
Volkswagen had produced its 16 millionth Beetle by 1973 and on June 23, 1992, they company reached the 21 million mark.
VW bid farewell to its iconic Beetle on December 31, 2019 with a short film that aired during “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020”. The film, called “The Last Mile” featured a number of moments from the Beetle’s history. Eagled eyed watchers can nview the film and see numerous pop culture references throughout the film including cameos from Kevin Bacon’s character in “Footloose”, an astronaut, and artist Andy Warhol. There’s a sign proclaiming that its “Not a Lemon” and a cameo from Bravo TV host Andy Cohen in the 90-second spot.