We define our historical eras, naturally, by things that we associate with them. We started making tools in the Bronze Age, the plague was in the Dark Ages, we strapped dogs and monkeys to rockets in the Space Age, and for a brief time in the '90s people wore shirts that changed color when they sweat.
But not everything is so cut and dried; sometimes things that you only thought existed in the black and white world were still around until just a few years ago. For instance ...
6The (Original) VW Bug Was Still Being Produced Until 2003
First of all, we're not talking about the redesigned VW Beetle that Volkswagen introduced in 1998. We're talking about the original rear-engine Beetle, the car that symbolized the 1960s in the way the Model T symbolized the early 1900s. The "love bug" was contractually obligated to be featured in every film, TV show, book, play, dramatic reading, poetry slam and conversation held from 1967 to 1972.
The peace and love is so thick, it's sticky.
You don't see the classic Beetle around much nowadays, with the exception of those ancient collector cars carefully maintained by people who literally have rebuilt them with a mixture of gum, tinfoil and marijuana residue.
But Actually ...
Or, they could have just bought one from the factory as recently as 2003. That's the last year that Volkswagen produced the classic Beetle -- and yes, we mean the trunk-under-the-hood, 1960s-style Herbie version that we all know and love.
The 2003 Volkswagen Beetle. Really.
See? It has a CD player and everything!
From the 1930s to 1978, Volkswagen spit out car after car from its factory before deciding, decades before America made it popular, to move the Beetle factories to Mexico. But production didn't stop -- from 1978 until 2003, the Mexican plants continued flooding the market with the bubble-shaped cars that sold for around $6,000. On July 30, 2003, the last ever Beetle to be made rolled off the factory line.
Finally phased out because the windshield decorations made them unsafe to drive.
Who the hell was buying these things? Well, while the U.S. pressed forward with that pricey "New Beetle" in the late '90s, Volkswagen found that the rest of the world preferred things old school. Primarily used as taxis in Mexico, regulations requiring four-door cabs finally did them in. Without that, it's possible that production would have continued. Not bad for a car dreamed up by Hitler.