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Untitled-1 copy

The result of a 1935 meeting between Adolf Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche (an Austrian automobile engineer), the Beetle, officially called the Volkswagen Type 1, is one of the world’s most iconic cars.

It is believed that Beetles started to come to Pakistan in the 1950s, driven over by European tourists, as well as by Pakistanis returning from their studies abroad. The car, with its rear mounted, air-cooled engine and four-wheel independent suspension, quickly developed a reputation for superior build quality, reliability and competent road manners.

A few years later, Volkswagen opened showrooms in Pakistan’s major cities, and the car continued to sell well until the early 1970s. It was then that compact Japanese saloons (with better fuel economy and four doors) arrived in Pakistan, and spelt the end for the insect-shaped, two-door vehicle. Consequently, the last Beetles were delivered to Pakistan in the mid-1970s (even though they continued to be produced overseas until 2003).

Unfortunately, over the years, owning a Foxy (as the car is also known) has become a challenge due to a dwindling number of competent mechanics and a scarce supply of spare parts. However, defying all odds and long after other cars of the same period have been consigned to the scrap heap, these little wonders continue to be seen on Pakistani roads, maintained, reassembled and driven by a small but dedicated group of owners, many of whom are members of the Volkswagen Club of Pakistan.

The Club arranges trips, rallies, picnics, and when needed, also steps in to assist those in need – Beetles from Islamabad, laden with lifesaving drugs and food items, were amongst the first vehicles to reach Balakot within hours of the 2005 earthquake.

Look out for these beauties at the forthcoming Vintage and Classic Car Club of Pakistan Rally in November. Setting out from Karachi, these ‘little giants’ will traverse the length of our country, bringing smiles to the faces of everyone who sees them.

Given the enthusiasm they garner, it is safe to say the Beetle is, after all, one of Pakistan’s most beloved vintage cars.

– Romano Karim Yusuf