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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
End of the road for the Beetle
VW Beetle
The distinctive VW Beetle
German car giant Volkswagen has said it will stop making the original model Beetle later this year, bringing down the curtain on a 70-year old motoring icon.

The last of the original Beetles will roll off the production line at the Volkswagen factory in Puebla, Mexico, later this summer, although a final date has not been set.

The rear-engined Beetle, with its distinctive rounded shape and prominent headlights, traces its origins back to 1934, when Adolf Hitler instructed designers to draw up an affordable car for the masses.

Mass production began after the second world war, and the Beetle went on to become one of the most instantly recognisable cars of the twentieth century.

Love bug

Initially popular with cash-strapped consumers in postwar Germany, the car later acquired a strong cult following in the rest of Europe and America, becoming indelibly associated with the hippy movement in the 1960s.

You sent us snaps of your Volkswagen Beetles

The Walt Disney Corporation's "Love Bug" films cemented its popularity in the 1970s, helping push total sales up to 21 million.

Volkswagen stopped making the Beetle in Europe in 1978, but carried on production in Puebla.

The Puebla factory produced fewer than 30,000 models last year, Volkswagen said.

Five years ago, Volkswagen introduced an updated version of the Beetle which has proved a hit with a new generation of drivers.

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