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The Volkswagen Type 1 Beetle, one of the 20th century’s most iconic vehicles, also served as a rolling car canvas for artists just itching to bug society.



Over 21 million Type 1 Beetles were manufactured between 1938 through 2003, leaving an indelible mark on pop culture’s psyche. VW sought to monetize the classic Bug’s nostalgic appeal through the evocative New Beetle that debuted in 1997, and the subsequent A5 Beetle introduced in 2011.


Now that VW has declared the current generation of Beetles to be the last, we can fondly look back to those “true” Bugs immortalized as art cars and transformed into artworks.


The classic Bug made its last hurrah on July 30th of 2003, when the 21,529,464th and final original Type 1 VW Beetle rolled off the production line in Puebla, Mexico. The exquisite Beetle art car above, snapped by Flickr member Angélica Portales (A30_Tsitika) in December 2010, hails from Mexico City. Artists Francisco and Xena Bautista decorated the late-model Bug with tiny seed beads in the traditional Huichol style – a painstaking process that took around 7 months to complete.

Water Bug




Remember those old DDB magazine ads that featured a floating VW Bug? Well, those don’t apply to this replica Beetle since it’s made of concrete and weighs about 8 tons. You’ll find it – bring your wetsuit – among the many undersea artworks at the Underwater Museum, off the coast of Cancun, Mexico.



Artist Jason deCaires-Taylor designed the sunken Bug to be sea-life-friendly with pierced windows providing smaller fish with shelter and crustacean habitats accessible via slots under the faux doors. The roughened surfaces are designed to help new coral growths get a grip.

For Ladybirds Only




While GM’s late and lamented luxo-barges epitomized the American Dream back in the day, the lowly VW Bug was a dream-come-true for countless car-buyers on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. It’s fitting, therefore, that Texas hosts not only the Cadillac Ranch but also a “herd” of five VW Beetles given a ladybug-like makeover.



You’ll find this Buggalo-like herd of beetle-y Beetles at the Running N Art Ranch in Saint Jo, Texas, a town of about 1,000 souls in Montague County just south of the Oklahoma border. The quintet of decommissioned Bugs sport jointed legs made from old oil field pipes and are painted red with black polka-dots.


Unlike the once-stately Caddys sticking out of the ground near Amarillo, these art cars are off-limits to amateur artists. Flickr member Nicholas Henderson (TexasExplorer98) visited the ranch in March of 2017.

Wood You Drive It?




This is not the Oak Beetle you Forestry students were looking for… or is it? We’ll go with the latter, even if that means going to far-off Bosnia to get up close and personal with Momir Bojic’s awesome oak-plated Bug. From the windshield wipers to the hubcaps to the fine detailing on the turn signals, Bojic has expertly applied around 50,000 pieces of precisely trimmed oak to his still fully-drivable Beetle.



Most of the exterior bodywork is covered in oak scales designed to mimic Bosnia’s traditional home roofing tiles. Bojic even had some leftover oak he used to trim his driving cap. Definitely a Beetle whose bark is better than its bite – that’s real bark, after all.

The Finnest Bug Around



From the “Why would you do that??” department comes this smashup mashup of two iconic cars – a 1957 Chevy Bel Air and a Volkswagen Bug. Oh, and also a cat, occasionally.



Spied and snapped at the Scottsdale Pavilions Classic Car Show by MisterW, this triple-finned fantasy in Pepto-Bismol Pink was a big hit with all the cool cats attending. Betcha the owner has no trouble finding his ride in any parking lot.

That’s Just How They Roll



They see me rollin’, they… lovin’? It’s hard to find fault with this well-rounded VW Beetle art car – unless, of course, it was your daily driver.


Indonesian artist Ichwan Noor started with a 1953 yellow Beetle, added some aluminum and polyester, and wound up with one of the most popular exhibits at the 2013 Art Basel Hong Kong show. How popular, you ask? Well, one patron liked the pillbug-like Bug so much they paid a cool $88,000 to take it home… no word on where or how they’ll park it.


“The idea emerged from a personal perception towards objects that are products of a transportation culture,” explained Noor, “which induces hints/signs of spiritual emotion. To behold a vehicle (car) is to have a ‘magical’ (supernatural) identity. Sculptures represent the interaction between humans and the object realm, with strong spiritual tension that affects the subconscious, and that yields a new animistic attitude.”

Aliens Ate My Beetle





It’s an Unidentified Ffahrvergnügen Object! Someone must have been smoking something when they saw a VW Bug and said, “Y’know, it wouldn’t take much to turn that there Beetle into a road-going UFO… here, hold my beer.” Note those people at Burning Man not giving the outrageously-flared Bug a second glance… wonder what they’re smoking?



OK, so these aren’t the best quality photos but what do you expect from a disposable camera lost in some dude’s closet for half a decade? Good thing Flickr member Brian Bennett (Umpqua) finally found the camera and got the film developed – now we know that (a) these UFO Bugs were freeway-capable and (b) there was more than one made.

Too Much Turtle Wax



We’ll end off as VW did, with a New Beetle. Not just any New Beetle, mind you, but an art car based on the Bug’s second coming. What a cold-blooded thing to do, though it does look sorta snappy.



Call it a Beetle in turtle’s clothing if you like – this promotional vehicle for TurtleTransit (who specialize in creating promotional vehicles – Xzibit, are you there?) embodies a level of body modification that approaches Joyce Wildenstein-ish levels… and arguably comes off better looking. We’re guessing the car’s on-board GPS keeps on directing the driver towards the nearest pond. One would hope the New Beetle floats as well as its inspiration.


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