Volkswagen Beetle love in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

by - 29.12.16

Mexico’s love affair with the Volkswagen Beetle ended with great fanfare in July of 2003, when the world’s last Beetle production facility near Mexico City turned out the final edition of this enduring automotive icon.

You’ll still see lots of Beetles in Puerto Vallarta, as they were the only truly affordable car for the common family in this country for nearly five decades.

Since 1996, the last and only Beetle factory in the world cranked out the durable little car for the Mexican market…because it was the only place in the world where sales still warranted it. The Beetle was everywhere and served nearly every purpose. (Still, in Mexico City, the majority of taxis are green Beetles; usually the front passenger seat is removed to facilitate easier entrance and exit for passengers.) You’ll see Beetles in Puerto Vallarta with their tops chopped, shortened Beetles (as if that was necessary, but it does look cute), Beetles converted to mini-pick-ups and dune buggies, and Beetles fitted with roof racks for carrying lumber, pipe, or other building materials.

Mexicans knew they could depend on the rugged little car, and spare parts were plentiful…to this day, it is not uncommon to find fuel pumps and other parts in the hardware section of the supermarket. "Mexicans know the Beetle," says Volkswagen spokesman Israel Victoria Diaz. "They know how to fix it. They know they can find parts almost anywhere. And they know they can depend on it when driving on the country's rough road conditions." To this day, it's still not uncommon to find fuel pumps and other basic Beetle parts in the auto-care section of the supermarket.

In the end, the demise of the lovable car was caused by the arrival of a variety of small and economical cars from Japan, plus the recent availability of automotive financing for the masses. Still the car has an enduring place in the heart of Mexico, and souped-up Beetles (or “Vochos”, as they are often called) still cruise the streets looking as good as they did the day they left the factory. Puerto Vallarta also hosts an annual Vocho Festival, where Beetle owners from around the country come to show off their shiniest, most-original or most-tricked-out Volkswagens.

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