Car, social icon, donor because that a million dune buggies and still the many recognisable four-wheeled shape on the planet, the Beetle is one automotive giant.

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Though the last vehicle rolled the end of VW’s Emden manufacturing facility in Germany in 1978, production continued in Brazil, and then Mexico till 2003, through which time more than 21 million had actually been built.

But VW actually began looking at exactly how to replace the Beetle in the 1950s, half a century prior to the critical one rolled off the line. That sounds incredibly beforehand in the context of the eventual production run, yet the simple design was almost twenty years old by the mid 1950s, and also was currently looking dated beside more contemporary European rivals.

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After trying out with five-door Beetles and some radically different concepts, the bug was eventually replaced by the front-engined, water-cooled Mk1 Golf in 1974. However things could have been quite different. Let’s take it a look at at few of the prototype cars the tried and also failed to replace the Beetle.

1955/56 EA47-12

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The ‘12’ in this car’s surname tells united state it to be the 12th that 15 prototypes produced in between 1953 and 1956. Styling look at vaguely familiar? It to be the work of Karmann, who Beetle-based Karmann Ghia was launched in 1955. Favor that car, this prototype featured a rear-mounted, air-cooled 1192cc flat-four making a usually 30 hp.

1955 EA48

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The EA48 to be VW’s proposal because that a automobile that would certainly sit listed below the Beetle in size, performance and price. Think the its as VW’s answer come the brother Mini, however four years prior to the fact. Choose the Mini, and unlike the Beetle, EA48 featured unibody construction and front-wheel drive. It was likewise equipped through MacPherson strut front suspension, just like practically every modern-day car, an 18 hp 700cc, air-cooled flat-twin engine, and also was the first prototype design in-house there is no any help from Porsche.

1960 EA97

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The EA97 looks like an entirely credible little sedan for the 1960s, and VW archivists think the project was canned so so late in the day, the employees were busy prepping the assembly line and also 200 pre-production cars had already been built when the speak to came. Apparently VW chiefs feeling the rear-engined, 1.1-liter vehicle was positioned too close come the Beetle and also bigger type 3 sedan that would launch in 1961.

1969 EA266

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Another design destined because that the cutting room floor, this one to be masterminded by Ferdinand Piëch, nephew of the man responsible for the original style of the Beetle, Ferdinand Porsche. Though it looks like a fairly conventional beforehand 1970s supermini, the featured a mid-mounted water-cooled 1.6-liter four under the behind seat. Think Ferrari Dino for the cash-strapped family members man.

But newly installed VW ceo Rudolf Leiding assumed Fiat’s transverse, front-wheel drive layout to be the future of tiny cars and also killed the task at huge expense. Fortunately, he was right.

1969 EA276

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No, this is no some North korean knock-off the a Mk1 Golf GTi, however it did walk on to accumulate the genuine Mk1 Golf that appeared in 1974. Front-wheel drive and the boxy styling meant it was a radical departure from the Beetle, though at this phase VW to be still running an air-cooled Beetle flat-four under the bonnet. Let’s just be thankful someone had the existence of mind to obtain Giorgetto Giugiaro on the job prior to the architecture was signed off.

In 1974 Volkswagen lastly released its Beetle successor, and eight generations later, it’s quiet going strong. However the over there was enough love because that the Beetle because that it to do a Golf-based comeback between 1997 and also 2019.

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And one for the roadway that ain’t make by VW but sure looks favor a Beetle

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And if the existence of good Wall’s Ora Punk Cat at this year Shanghai Auto show is anything to walk by, we might not have seen the critical of the Bug, also if that this one isn’t made by Volkswagen.