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The short news stories told here come from all over the world. Some of them are only peculiar or curious, others are so incredible as to give doubts about how true they really are; they have instead really happened and are strictly documented events and they can show (if we still needed it) the uniqueness of the Vw Beetle as a cult-object.


Beetle between devout people


In 1973 in Varese, a fire broke out in a garage and the Fire Brigade were unable to enter due to the dense smoke. You can imagine what a surprise the people who were crowding around outside had when they saw a red Beetle backing slowly out of the garage with no driver! It's needless to say that the Beetle was the only car saved from the fire. The technical explanation of the "miracle" was that the heat had burnt through the insulation on the electrical cable of the ignition which went to ground and so started the engine and therefore moving the car which was in gear, until the battery ran down. But for who knows the Beetle there is no other explanation: "he" was scared and... ran away!



*At the beginning of the seventies an American oil investigator named B.K.Morgan, who scoured the Sahara desert on a camel, one day he noticed a hump sticking out of the sand as famous as the camel's hump: it was the roof of a Beetle! Helped by a couple of friends, he dug it out. Later on he found out from a police report that the car had been lost by two young guys during a sandstorm. Morgan told later: "the sand was incredibly hot; when the air temperature gets to 50-60 degrees, even the sand generates the same heat and it retains it. However, after five months in that oven, the Beetle immediately started up when I turned the ignition key".



Beetle floating1] On 20th November 1961 Mrs. Mabel Stevenson from Pomana, in California, was driving in her trusty Beetle when the motorway was flooded because due to tornado. Well, Mrs.Stevenson did not lose heart and managed to "sail" her car for 400 meters arriving safe and sound on dry land. Thanks to her Beetle not only didn't she drown, but she didn't even get her feet wet!
2] Mr. Owe Burkland from Copenhagen, accidentally fell into the water in the port of the Danish Capital with his Beetle. After 10 minutes he was rescued by a boat and his car was towed up to the dry land still floating!



Beetle hang to a hot air balloonIn 1994, during the annual VW meeting which takes place in Chatêau-d' Oex, in Switzerland, a Beetle equipped with a gas burner inflated a hot-air balloon and soared up into the sky, taking the place of the usual basket.
And in order to demonstrate that there was no trick, after more or less two hours the bold airborne Beetle came back towing the folded hot-air balloon with its proper trailer!



At the time of the earthquake in Friuli (Italy), an Italian doctor had to get to a village which had been cut off. Together with the damage produced by the earthquake, the rain had transformed the uneven muletrack (which lead to the village) into a torrent. Numerous attempt were made by the the rescue squads, equipped with powerful off-road vehicles, but had miserably failed. The doctor, with his green '68 Beetle, aware of the "talents" of his car, persuaded the Police who blocked the way to let him try. The soldiers were sure they would have to pick him up a few metres ahead, but their scepticism ended against the daring small car as it climbed up to the isolated village, carrying the doctor and first aids supplies to the villagers.



On 30th September 1998 a dreadful flood hit the Italian region of Liguria. In San Remo the damage amounted to tens of billions of Lire and many garages were completely submerged. All the parked cars were sunk into slimy water and mud. All of them? Not really: a Jubilee Beetle went adrift towards the FireBrigade who could scarcely believe their eyes, being submerged in a garage in more then four metres of muddy water. Was the brave Beetle damaged? No, only some scratches on the roof varnish (it had hit the ceiling of the garage that, in normal conditions, was more than five meters heigh), but as soon as it was pulled out, its owner started it up and took his " friend" to a safe place in order to allow the FireBrigade to go on with their work. It goes without saying that all the other cars went to be scrapped!



The Beetle cabriolet of HitlerThe first cabriolet in the history of the Beetle was built at the same time as the sedan version and it was given to Adolf Hitler by the Porsche Engineer, as a personal gift. There is nothing strange about this, but the history of this car is so extraordinary that it is worth telling. After the partecipation at numerous parades with the Führer, it was taken on the Obersalzberg in the famous "Nest of the Eagle" at the outbreak of the war, where it was also used by Hermann Göring and other officers. On 29th June 1945, with very few kilometers on the speedometer, the Beetle was "captured" by the Americans and, after that, it fell into the hands of an engineer from Huppenheim, who then did about 250.000 km. In 1951 the Beetle was sold for 2.500 DM and, with the third owner (up to 1954), it covered others 180.000 kilometers. The fourth owner bought it for 600 DM in 1954, restores it very simply and sold it again for 1.000 DM. The next owner used it to travel with his family in Austria and in Italy, without a single breakdown. The sixth owner covered other 80.000 kilometers and in 1956 he resold it to the Volkswagen car dealer in Munich with a total of 590.000 kilometers on the clock. The car dealer, suspicious from some truly anomalous particular, called the Volkswagen experts who, incredulous, recognized the car they thought had been destroyed and took it back with them to Wolfsburg. Nowadays we can see it, completely restored, in the VW Museum.



*At the beginning of the seventies the Government of Mongolia offered the skeleton of a dinosaur to the Volkswagenwerk in exchange for 100 standard model Beetles for the Government officers use them to get to the most secluded place in the Country!



*In the United States there is a Club which gathers anybody who was born in a Volkswagen: the members are more than 500! Moreover, in the seventies, the same "VW of America" gave a small cash prize to the lucky children with the slogan "Bonds for Babies born in Beetles".


The history told here are drawn from book
"The Car of the Century" by Filippo Massa, 1999 Alkalea Editions.
For more information click here.


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