Considered one of the single most influential cars of the 20th century, more than 21 million Volkswagen beetles were sold from 1938 to 2003. Its Autobahn-cruising reliability and "People's Car" ease of service established it as the quintessential economy car by 1950, while the quirky styling and intelligent, self-deprecating advertisements (starting in 1967) solidified its legacy as a cultural reference point.
Ferdinand Porsche began developing the car in 1934 (the "Beetle" nickname would not be formally embraced until nearly 1970) to meet Adolf Hitler's request for a utilitarian vehicle that could efficiently transport a family of five. After World War II, many Beetle hallmarks (such as the suspension, chassis, aerodynamic styling, and air-cooled, rear-mounted boxer engine) would find their way into Porsche's 356 sports car, which in itself was predecessor to the long-running Porsche 911.
Countless Beetle enthusiast groups thrive today, focused around various well-developed niches, from high-output custom "Baja Bugs," to historic-minded "Cal Look" cars and "Resto-Cals."