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February 17, 1972 – VW Beetle outsells Ford Model T

Introduced in 1908, the Ford Model T would set the record for the highest produced automotive model by the time production ended in 1927. Some 15,007,033 left the factory over those years. It’d be 45 years before another car matched, and then surpassed, that number. On this day in 1972 Volkswagen beat that record when the 15,007,034th Type 1 Beetle left the factory.

Developed in Nazi Germany by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche and his team in the 1930s, the Beetle would go into full scale production following WWII. Dismal US sales in the early 1950s led to a massive marketing campaign launched in 1959 by advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach. The series of ads took playful jabs at VW while promoting the advantages owning a small car. The Bug, as it is informally known, underwent very little redesign throughout its production life. After more than 60 years and more than 21 million Beetles built, the final Type 1 rolled off the assembly line in Peubla, Mexico in 2003.

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