Author Topic: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary  (Read 14278 times)

Offline sirAQUAMAN64

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Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« on: October 17, 2005, 12:25:09 pm »
Here's a series of various articles brought together from Automotive News to celebrate Volkswagen's 50th anniversary in the US. Too bad you can't see the photos, but hope VW enthusiasts enjoy!

Beetle's appeal went far beyond the cute and cuddly

By William Jeanes
Automotive News / October 17, 2005

A VW milestone occurred in 1972 when Beetle production surpassed the 15,007,033 Model T's built by Ford.

We all know the story of the Volkswagen Beetle: It was Adolf Hitler's idea, Ferdinand Porsche designed it, and sales in the United States soared because of advertising headlines such as "Lemon" and "Think Small" from Madison Avenue's Doyle, Dane, Bernbach.

Oh, and it would still be selling like tax cuts had VW just kept building the lovable bug.

Well, sort of.

The Hitler part is true; the rest historians disagree on. It's well established that Porsche had help, and lots of it, though he headed the project intended to put cheap cars in the hands of the German populace.

By the time Doyle, Dane, Bernbach's first ad appeared in 1959, VW already was selling nearly 90,000 Beetles a year. VW had become the world's fourth largest automaker in 1954. And, as a former Doyle, Dane, Bernbach writer recalls, "Most people forget that demand for the Beetle was far outstripping supply well before the first Doyle, Dane ad appeared."

From its introduction in 1949 -- when only a pair of Beetles were sold in the United States -- through 1959, VW had sold 265,944 Beetles, 12,357 convertibles and 86,169 light trucks, the familiar VW Transporter variants, mostly vans and buses.

Beetle sales rose from 1,139 in 1953 to 32,662 in 1955 -- when VW established VW of America -- to 52,221 in 1958 and finished the next year with sales of 84,677.

My first time at the wheel of a Beetle stands out with the clarity of an appendix removal. Two of the car's qualities remain fixed in my memory: the silly wheezing noise its air-cooled engine made, and the astonishing quality of its fit and finish.

There were no gaping spaces between panels, exterior or interior; the painted instrument panel and door sills were utterly free of orange-peeling or paint runs; and the doors were so tightly fitted that they really did close more easily if you cracked the window.

The spindly gearshift lever felt as if you could snap it off with a wrist flick, but it worked smoothly enough -- as did the rest of the car, Never mind that only 36 horses awaited in the rear compartment.

Lima bean on wheels

The time was early 1957, and we were in what passes for winter in Jackson, Miss. The car, a 1956 model equipped with a fold-back sunroof, belonged to the three McNair brothers, sons of a local doctor. The youngest brother, David, had read about Beetles in Popular Science and persuaded his dad to buy what was then a strange and exotic vehicle. Dr. McNair bought the pale pea-green sedan straight off the transporter for $1,628. It looked like nothing so much as a big lima bean on wheels.

"There was already a lot of mythology about the car," David McNair recalls. "It was supposed to float. The rear engine configuration was supposed to be great in snow and ice. It was supposed to get great gas mileage. The mileage part was true."

Much earlier, when I was 9 or 10, my parents gave me a wind-up toy Beetle for Christmas. World War II was not long over, and the outlook at the VW factory in Germany lay between hopeless and bleak, but I had no knowledge of that. My 8-inch Beetle was red, and it was fascinating to know that it represented a real automobile from faraway Europe, a car unlike anything I'd ever seen.

Indeed, Beetles were not like other cars. Art Railton, who came to VW as its public relations boss in 1959, described Beetles in an essay published in The Origin and Evolution of the VW Beetle. He wrote: "So old-fashioned as to have running boards, it broke all the rules: it was noisy when cars were supposed to be quiet; anemic when cars were supposed to be powerful; it had no luggage space, no gas gauge, a heater that didn't heat and wipers that didn't wipe."


Stuffing into a Beetle was great fun for young people in the 1960s. It was possible for a Bug to hold more than 20 people -- with their shoes off, of course.


None of this kept a certain segment of the American public from embracing the Beetle with the enthusiasm of Holy Rollers. VW owners, generally conceded to be members of the intelligentsia, were though to be tweedy, well-educated and more likely to smoke pipes than cigarettes.

Popular with the Navy

I can say with conviction that the cars were popular with U.S. Navy officers during 1960-63, when I served. Most of the officers drove VWs, while the flashier crowd bought Triumph TR3s and MGs. The VW's great attraction was that you could put it in the garage, disconnect the battery and go to sea for seven months. Upon your return, it would welcome you without incident or deterioration, something not always true of British or American cars.

I owned three VWs, the first being a 1961 Karmann Ghia, which I bought after wrecking my TR3. The other two were Beetles, a 1963 and a 1970.

Beetle ownership taught you several things, one being patience. This was particularly true in passing situations on two-lane highways. During overtaking maneuvers in your Beetle, overeagerness and a lack of careful planning could get you killed.

Another thing I learned was that car dealerships could be pleasant places to visit. VW was a groundbreaker when it came to treating customers like something other than bumpkins in the back tent of a carnival sideshow.

I learned discipline. There was no fuel gauge in early Beetles, meaning that the first warning that you were about to run out of gasoline came when you ran out of gasoline. You then turned a handle on the firewall, freeing up the last 1.5 gallons of gasoline in the reservoir. When the odometer had turned over another 30 or 35 miles, you stopped and bought gasoline.

As Railton correctly noted, the Beetle heater didn't heat. This naturally went double for the defroster. On a trip to New Orleans in 1964, an uncharacteristic freezing snap frosted my windshield. To preserve my forward vision, I came up with the tactic of rapping smartly on the glass. This would crack the ice, which then fell away allowing me to see. Unfortunately, it also cracked the windshield.

Always, never changing

An awareness of customer preferences led to the VW doctrine of constant if not revolutionary improvement. The basic silhouette of the Beetle remained essentially unchanged until the appearance of the larger and more powerful Super Beetle in 1971.

The Super Beetle was 3 inches longer than the standard version and weighed 155 pounds more. Increasing luggage capacity that previously had existed mostly in owners' minds, the Super Beetle's 9.2 cubic feet of cargo room represented an improvement of more than 80 percent over the basic Beetle.

In 1968, U.S. buyers took home 390,079 Beetles, that nameplate's sales apex. That same year, the Disney Studios movie The Love Bug appeared, and was wildly successful. Sales remained in the 318,000 to 360,000 range until 1972. Also, total global production of the Beetle surpassed the 15,007,033 Model T's built by Ford, a record that had stood since 1927. In all, VW built 21,529,464 Beetles globally before phasing out production in Mexico in 2003.

Age took its inevitable revenge. The Beetle remained cute and cuddly, but the public finally realized what an anachronism it was. Two-digit horsepower figures did not light fires. Also, the Beetle was no more likely to meet increasing federal safety regulations than a buckboard.

The pride that VW took in surpassing the Model T in sales was richly deserved. Less deserving of praise was VW's failure, mirroring that of Henry Ford a half-century earlier, to have a replacement ready.

VW had led the import invasion and led it with vigor. But Japanese automakers had overtaken and outdone the Wolfsburg team, and the domestics were selling some adequate small cars.

VW's total U.S. sales sank from a high of 569,182 in 1970 to 260,704 in 1977, the Beetle sedan's last year. A decade later, VW sold fewer than 200,000 cars and light trucks. Beetle sales, meanwhile, had fallen from 390,079 in 1968 to 0 nine years later.

In 1999, VW's New Beetle appeared. But all of the New Beetle hoopla was based on nostalgia and offered nothing like the thrill of being different that so appealed to early Beetle buyers.

In the 1960s, a college professor who owned an early Beetle defended his purchase by saying, "It needs me."

But by 1977, after it had become a household word, a movie star and one of the world's all-time best-selling cars, the car-buying public no longer needed the Beetle.

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2005, 12:26:25 pm »
The up and downs of VW dealers
From waiting lists for Beetles to product droughts, they just keep hanging on

By Laura Clark Geist
Automotive News / October 17, 2005
Roller coaster ride
VW dealers have had good times and bad times. Here are 3 examples.
1. Some nameplates, particularly the Beetle, were hugely popular.
2. Long product cycles have meant aging products for dealers.
3. Quality problems plagued dealers from time to time.
Call it loyalty. Call it survival of the fittest. Volkswagen of America Inc. dealers have ridden the highs and lows of the brand's popularity in the United States over its 50-year history.

From waiting lists in sales departments to customer lines in service departments to empty showrooms and back again, dealers have learned that holding a Volkswagen franchise is not for the faint of heart.

"Volkswagen dealers are much more passionate and enthusiastic about their cars than other dealers," Larry Holbert, president of Holbert's Motor Cars in Warrington, Pa., told Automotive News. Holbert's family has had a VW franchise for 50 years.

For "a lot of dealerships, it's just a business. But Volkswagen dealers accept the ups and downs because they love the product," says Holbert, who also sells Audi and Porsche.

In the 1950s and 1960s, taking on a VW dealership was a gamble. The first VW retail operations in the United States consisted largely of dealers or service shops already selling or servicing other import makes, or those who just loved the product.

But that gamble paid off quickly. Just two years after Volkswagen began its U.S. operations in 1955, Americans clamored for the Beetle.

Just you wait

"We had waiting lists for the waiting list," recalls Bill Wuesthoff, the owner of Concours Motors in Milwaukee, describing his sales department in 1956 and 1957.

Bob Kissick who began as a salesman at Dave Rasmussen Volkswagen in Burlingame, Calif., in 1955, remembers when the dealership recruited off-duty firemen and even customers to drive VW models from the San Francisco port to the store.

"We'd have a row of about eight of them. People would see these cars on the highway and follow us back to the showroom," says Kissick, vice president of Boardwalk Auto Center, of Redwood City, Calif.

"But they were already pre-sold. They'd say, 'No, no, no we want that black one there.' They'd argue with us and then end up ordering one."

At one point in the late 1950s, Kissick recalls, the Beetle was so hot that Rasmussen assigned one salesperson just to take names and phone numbers for the waiting list.

There was no inventory. And floor planning and advertising expenses were nonexistent, he says.

All of this helped VW's U.S. sales to climb steadily throughout the 1950s and 1960s before hitting a peak in 1970, when 569,182 vehicles were sold.

But the go-go days for dealers began to change in 1975, when Volkswagen began importing the front-drive Rabbit. Despite its well-timed debut during the oil crisis, early Rabbit owners complained about quality issues ranging from faulty carburetors to squeaky brakes.

Bad timing

The quality problems couldn't have come at a worse time. U.S. consumers discovered that the Japanese automakers, which had established a toehold in the United States in the 1960s and early 1970s, also offered fuel-efficient cars. But these cars were not prone to frequent breakdowns. By 1975, Toyota had replaced Volkswagen as the top import brand.

"I remember sitting in (dealer meetings) where we would talk about the concerns about the competition," says Steve Fox, president of Hoy-Fox Automotive Group in El Paso, Texas.

Management "would say, 'Our products are designed to run up and down the autobahn all day long, and their products can't.' They didn't understand that we didn't need cars to run 100 mph all day. We needed cars that could run at 70 mph without breaking down or needing costly repairs," he says.

As the Rabbit's quality problems mounted and VW phased out the Beetle sedan in 1977 and the convertible in 1979, dealers became frustrated with VW management in Wolfsburg.

"It wasn't hard to get the parts," says Holbert. "It was hard to get the Germans to understand that there were problems in America that were different than Germany."

Quality problems dogged VW into the 1980s, but new models such as the Jetta, Golf and GTI brought new buyers to the brand -- at least for a while. As those products started to age, sales began to slip again.

Losing a friend

The deaths of Volkswagen of America's charismatic leader James Fuller and marketing director Lou Marengo, who were aboard Pan Am Flight 103 when it exploded above Lockerbie, Scotland, in December 1988, brought another blow to the dealer body.

"He was a dealer man," says Kissick of Fuller.

"He'd get in arguments with the Germans, and he'd go back and do it again. When he was killed, things changed psychologically," says Kissick.

It was the second blow to Volkswagen's U.S. operation in 1988. Earlier that year, Volkswagen had closed its only U.S. manufacturing plant, which was in Westmoreland, Pa. The factory was replaced with a plant in Puebla, Mexico.

Puebla came to have its own problems. In 1992, the plant had to be shut down because of union squabbles and quality issues. For 18 months beginning in 1992, VW dealers had no Golfs or Jettas to sell. As a result, VW sales dipped to a record low 49,533 in 1993.

VW reopened the Puebla plant with retrained workers in 1994, and new products such as a redesigned Jetta and Passat followed. But it was the 1998 debut of the New Beetle that again made a VW franchise a hot property.

Dealers could not get enough of the New Beetle. Some took advantage of the demand and tight supply, jacking up the price thousands of dollars over suggested retail.

In 2001, the VW Division had its best sales year since 1973.

But sales have slipped since 2001, hurt by VW's long product cycles, the company's slowness in matching the generous incentive offers of other carmakers and an engine oil sludge problem that brought a slew of negative publicity in 2004.

And once again, dealers find themselves hanging on.

Offline sirAQUAMAN64

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2005, 12:27:21 pm »
VW cash kept dealers going in 1992

By Laura Clark Geist
Automotive News / October 17, 2005

When quality problems and labor unrest forced Volkswagen to halt production at its Puebla, Mexico, plant in 1992, Volkswagen of America Inc.'s 686 dealers were left without Jettas and Golf models to sell.

In 1991, the two nameplates made up 53.6 percent of the brand's U.S. volume, and the redesigned 1993 versions were being counted on to reverse VW's sagging fortunes in the United States.

Concerned about how its dealer body would survive the product drought with only Passats, Corrados, Cabriolets, Foxes and EuroVans, VWoA began giving cash payments to its dealers.

"It wasn't just a check, it was loyalty" to our dealers, says William Gelgota, VWoA's current director of dealer relations and brand integration.

"The decision was made to try to keep our dealers solvent. We wanted to keep our infrastructure together so when the turnaround came we'd have that infrastructure to sell the cars."

Automotive News on Dec. 7, 1992, reported that VW gave $5 million to help the dealers and their sales staffs. VW paid the cash based on individual dealers' average monthly sales for Golfs and Jettas for the 12 months prior to Nov. 1, 1992. The payment to single-line VW dealers was $1,000 per unit. Dual dealers got $700 a unit.

Recalls Gene Langan, of Gene Langan Volkswagen Inc. in Glastonbury, Conn., "It kept a lot of guys in business."

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2005, 12:28:12 pm »
Early VW dealers: Business was all about risk

By Laura Clark Geist
Automotive News / October 17, 2005
In January 1949, Dutchman Ben Pon arrived in New York with a Volkswagen Beetle. His mission: stir up interest in Volkswagen among U.S. car dealers and sign up franchisees.

But anti-German sentiment in the country -- four years after the end of World War II -- still ran high. At a press conference to introduce the Beetle, Pon referred to VW as the "Victory Wagon." According to Small Wonder: The Amazing Story of the Volkswagen, the press dubbed the small, quirky vehicle "Hitler's car."

Undaunted, Pon made appointments with dealers, all of whom turned him down flat. He ended up selling his Volkswagen model and its spare parts to pay for his hotel room and returned to VW headquarters in Germany.

Later, Volkswagen's managing director, Heinz Nordhoff, tried unsuccessfully to hawk the brand to dealers. U.S. consumers, dealers argued, wanted big cars with powerful engines, not a small, underpowered car with a questionable heritage.

Wouldn't take no

But Nordhoff would not accept rejection. He desperately needed to sell cars to raise money for much-needed U.S. machinery for the Wolfsburg factory, according to Small Wonder.

In 1950, New York import dealer Max Hoffman signed on as VW's exclusive distributor and agent for the United States east of the Mississippi River. Hoffman also was the distributor of other European makes, such as Jaguar, BMW and Porsche.

Dealers found that they could get their hands on better-known marques if they would take a few of Hoffman's Volkswagens, too. But dealers soon discovered that the low-priced Volkswagens were better sellers than the higher-priced import brands.

That early dealer corps was disorganized. Many VW dealers were merely order takers; some had no ability to service the vehicles. Some dealers sold Volkswagens out of warehouses. Another sold Beetles in the back of a men's clothing store, according to Small Wonder.

VW headquarters -- recognizing the need for better organization and uniform standards in the growing U.S. market -- canceled Hoffman's contract in 1953. The factory wanted the U.S. to reflect the "service first and sales second' standard VW was using throughout the world. Distributors were in charge of a state or group of states, and appointing a network of dealers in those states that would sell the car and operate in "the Volkswagen way."

Among the early distributors were California dealers Reynold Johnson and Kjell Qvale. During a trip to Germany in the 1950s, Qvale, then an MG and Jaguar dealer, noted how popular Beetles were with Germans. He liked the fact that Volkswagens had synchromesh gearboxes and hydraulic brakes.

Taking a chance

"I decided then that the car had a real shot," Qvale told Automotive News.

"I got a hold of VW and let them know I was interested. I became a distributor for northern California and Nevada. There was nothing in writing; it was just word of mouth. I personally placed the first order for cars and parts. The first order was for 12 cars."

When it came to selecting their first dealers, Johnson and Qvale insisted on exclusive points rather than the usual practice of allowing import dealers to hold a collection of brands.

Riviera Motors, Qvale's company, eventually was named as the distributor for the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska. At the factory's request, the territory was split into a northern and southern half. The northern half was run by Qvale's brother, Knute Qvale, while Johnson took the southern half.

By the mid-1960s Volkswagen had 15 independent distributors in the United States. Fourteen of those distributors also operated a Volkswagen dealership.

By 1965 Volkswagen of America began to take over its distributors. In December 1965 it established Volkswagen Southeastern Distributor Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla. In July 1966 VW set up Volkswagen Northeastern Distributor Inc. in Boston. In 1967 Volkswagen North Central Distributor was set up in Deerfield, Ill. In 1969 VW acquired Volkswagen South Atlantic Distributor Inc. in Washington and Volkswagen South Central Distributors in San Antonio.

A few distributors hung on longer. For instance, Qvale's Riviera Motors was bought out in 1988, and World-Wide Volkswagen Corp. of New York was taken over in 1993.

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2005, 12:28:55 pm »
Hahn drove VW to success in America
As young exec, he saw chance to make an impact

By Richard Johnson
Automotive News / October 17, 2005
Carl Hahn may have had as much to do with how Americans remember the 1960s as Jimi Hendrix, Timothy Leary, Max Yasgur and Lennon and McCartney.

Hahn was the brains behind Volkswagen Beetlemania.

But that wasn't all he did after arriving from Germany in 1959 as a determined 32-year-old.

Long before there were minivans, Hahn put Americans in Microbuses. And did we mention that he helped to change advertising as we know it? All in five fortuitous years at Volkswagen of America. And all because Hahn had been restless in Germany and felt a need to go off and prove himself.

By the mid-1960s, VWoA was earning so much money that the men in Wolfsburg were rubbing their eyes with disbelief.

"I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time," Hahn, 78, told Automotive News.

America was the launching pad for a career that seemed to slow only a little after he retired as Volkswagen AG chairman in 1991.

As a 27-year-old economic development officer in Paris, Hahn was full of ideas about Europeanizing the auto industry. He dashed off a letter to Heinz Nordhoff, VW's legendary postwar leader. Intrigued, Nordhoff invited Hahn to Wolfsburg, then hired him as his personal assistant.

"It was a boring job because nothing ever changed," recalls Hahn. "It was Beetle, Beetle, Beetle. Nothing new."

Off to the United States

So Hahn became head of sales promotion in the export department, which led to his assignment in the United States. He arrived in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. -- VWoA's headquarters before moving to Auburn Hills, Mich. -- on Jan. 8, 1959, taking charge of the fledgling U.S. sales operations.

The executives in Wolfsburg knew Hahn was smart as a whip and would go places. But going to America was a mistake, they thought.

"They were very, very pessimistic about the future in the United States," says Hahn. "Many advised me not to take the job. There was not the belief that America could be a great market."

But the native Austrian would make a career out of thinking outside the box. The cutesy, compact Beetle was a car out of the box. If any one car defined America in the 1960s, this was it.

"We became a sort of darling of the American public," Hahn says.

The courtly young European also brought a methodical and innovative approach to importing cars -- something not before seen in the U.S. auto industry.

For example, he believed VW dealerships should have a common appearance from coast to coast and that the brand's many independent distributors should work closely together.

Traveling America

Once in America, Hahn jumped into a Microbus and began traveling.

"I liked to drive all over the country and pop into dealerships unannounced," he said.

Pulling up to VW dealerships in the hinterlands, he would get out, offer a hand, identify himself, and begin asking the surprised dealer about his business.

Hahn changed the way VW was organized.

"We had an iron curtain running down the Mississippi River," Hahn remembers. "Everything west of the Mississippi was run out of San Francisco, and everything east was controlled by Englewood Cliffs. I had to break down the curtain."

He built an office for 350 people in Englewood Cliffs and went to work developing stand-alone dealerships.

"When I came, we had about 300 dealers," he says. "We got rid of half of them. When I left we had close to 1,000."

Under Hahn, the VW franchise ranked first in sales per dealership in the United States.

"We were also No. 1 in profits per dealership," he said.

In 1958, VW sold 78,588 cars and trucks in the United States. In 1964, the year Hahn left, the number had soared to 306,024, and with Hahn overseeing U.S. operations from Germany, the total hit 563,522 in 1968.

Eventually, he began buying VW's numerous independent distributorships around the country -- in opposition to the philosophy back in Wolfsburg.

Hahn kept in touch with Nordhoff in Germany. Sort of.

"I wrote him a letter every month to tell him what I was doing," he said. "I went to Germany every three months. Otherwise, I was completely free. Telephones were so expensive. Nobody called. So we were living very independently."

Hahn lived in Stamford, Conn. In 1960, he met and married an American woman, Marisa Traina. They are still married.

'Primitive' advertising

He loved everything about America, with one notable exception -- the advertising. And one of the first things Hahn had to do at VWoA was create a campaign.

"I had seen at least 10 agency presentations on Madison Avenue," he said. "I considered American advertising philosophy quite primitive and awful."

Pennsylvania distributor Arthur Stanton recommended he consider Doyle, Dane, Bernbach, a small agency that couldn't afford offices on Madison Avenue.

Hahn was nervous about giving the entire VW account to DDB, so he awarded the truck business to another agency. Within a year DDB had fully proven itself and was given the whole shebang.

Built around the theme "Think small," VW's advertising was smart, self-deprecating, understated and hilarious.

Early on, Hahn took Bill Bernbach to Wolfsburg to see the factory and absorb the company's philosophy. He introduced his ad man to Nordhoff.

"I had a very close relationship with Bernbach," says Hahn. "I found enormous creativity on their side. Their advertising was strong, humorous, sophisticated and had a heart, like the car. There was an enormous symbiosis between the advertising and the car."

Would the Beetle phenomenon have happened without Doyle, Dane, Bernbach?

"You have no success when you don't have the right product," says Hahn. "Advertising is not everything, but it is an essential element. Our advertising campaign gave to buyers a very good reason for their decision to buy the car. The advertising made him a very important man. It gave him prestige."

Hahn had a great feel for promotion. Once he had his team search for the oldest VW Beetle in America.

"We found a farmer in Nebraska, an ex-GI who brought the first Beetle over from Europe, in December 1945.

"We brought him to New York and gave him a new car.

"American GIs were our advance team," he says. "They were coming back to the U.S. and knew something about the Volkswagen and VW overseas."

In 1960, Hahn also began pushing sales of the Microbus.

"The car had been around, but we began to emphasize it," he says. "It was more profitable than the Beetle."

Couple with that the profitable and lovely Beetle-based Karmann Ghia, and the money was rolling in.

"In those days VW of America was so profitable," Hahn says. "Money was no object. I remember looking once at the balance sheet of VW of America and there was a credit of $300 million. It was 1.2 billion deutschmarks -- more than the balance sheet of Volkswagen in Germany."

Hahn returned to Germany to take a seat on the VW board of management.

Today he holds a professorship on industrial strategies at a university in eastern Germany. He also is a consultant to foreign governments and is on the board of several companies worldwide.

Hahn calls his business experience in the United States "my MBA."

"I was very young, and I absorbed the United States very fast," he says. "I got a feel for the country, and I got to know and love the United States. We had an unparalleled spirit."

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2005, 12:29:42 pm »
Imports owe lobbying success to VW

By Jeff Mortimer
Automotive News / October 17, 2005
If you want a Hollywood ending, go to a guy from Hollywood.

That may not have been precisely what was on the minds of U.S. Volkswagen dealers who hired Bob McElwaine to run their nascent national organization in 1970, but he was, in many ways, an improbable choice.

While business in the 1960s had been good for VW, talk of tariffs, import quotas and other restrictions was in the air. And hanging over it all was the "chicken tax," a 25 percent duty on imported trucks that had been in effect since 1963, when President Kennedy imposed it in retaliation for a German tariff on American poultry.

McElwaine, a native Californian, had been director of publicity for Samuel Goldwyn studios, spent eight years as a "sort of all-around handyman" for actor Danny Kaye, and had left his job as director of public relations for Mercedes-Benz to join the renowned Ketchum, MacLeod and Grove public relations firm in Washington.

On the side, McElwaine also was a government and public relations consultant for VW, whose leaders he had befriended on his frequent trips to Germany for Mercedes.

Bob's plan

"Three members of Volkswagen's board came to Washington, and I set up meetings with them with people in government who would be of interest to them," McElwaine, 81, recalls. "They came back to my office and said, 'We don't seem to have much influence in this country.'

"I said, 'If I go in and say, I'm Bob McElwaine and I represent Volkswagenwerk Wolfsburg Aktiengesellschaft, they aren't going to listen to me. But you've got at least one dealer in every congressional district in the country. If you could put those guys to work for you, then you'd have some real clout.' "

As a result, the automaker tapped Peter Cook, the VW distributor for Michigan and Indiana, to recruit dealers for a national VW dealers organization. Cook enlisted David Gezon, a Grand Rapids, Mich., dealer, to work with him. Gezon turned to his own attorney, Conrad Bradshaw, for legal assistance.

"Here was an opportunity to help with the formation of a national association," Bradshaw says. "They (German VW executives) knew McElwaine's suggestion was a good one. They knew they could not effectively lobby Congress as a German organization. But they had people out there with a valid interest that their senators and congressmen would listen to."

The first meeting of the board of directors of the Volkswagen American Dealers Association was Sept. 10, 1970. One of the first orders of business was hiring McElwaine as executive vice president.

Sixteen months later, in part to gain tax-exempt status, the group opened its membership to all import car dealers and changed its name to the American Imported Automobile Dealers Association. That group in 1980 became the American International Automobile Dealers Association. Eventually McElwaine became president.

McElwaine credits much of AIADA's success to a Washington lawyer, Thomas Hale Boggs Jr.

Boggs is "probably the most effective lobbyist who ever cooled his Gucci loafers outside a Senate hearing room," says McElwaine.

He describes retaining Boggs' services as "the most significant single action I took to help bring about the successful conclusion of our struggle to keep from being legislated out of business."

For a fledgling trade association, Boggs was a good colt on which to bet. Politics was in his genes the way the movies were in McElwaine's. Boggs' father, House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, had long been a power in Congress, and the apple had not fallen far from the tree.

"McElwaine didn't have the guns, the voters, but he had Tom Boggs," says Tom Nemet. Nemet, a third-generation dealer in New York, became chairman of AIADA in 1983. More importantly, for many years he ran the Auto Dealers and Drivers for Free Trade PAC, which routinely raised more money than any of its corporate peers. Although independent of AIADA, the groups' goals were congruent.

Success streak

With Boggs providing access to powerful people and Nemet providing campaign cash for friendly candidates, AIADA enjoyed a stunning streak of successes, thwarting one attempt after another to restrict the flow of imported autos into the United States.

Although the "chicken tax" lives, AIADA has won virtually all of its other battles.

A big win was the 1996 repeal of a luxury tax on vehicles priced higher than $30,000, which followed a six-year fight.

But chief among the victories, cites McElwaine, was a 1980 case before the International Trade Commission on an "escape clause" action filed by Ford Motor Co. and the UAW that would have meant higher tariffs on auto imports. McElwaine was filling in for AIADA's trade lawyer, whose wife had just had a baby.

"The lawyer said, 'You can do it was well as I can,' " McElwaine says. "So I'd been cross-examining hostile witnesses, and I finished my testimony and was answering questions. The chairman of the panel asked me kind of a complex legal question, and I said, 'I don't think I'm qualified to answer that question, Mr. Chairman.' He said, 'Well, as a lawyer, what's your opinion?' I said, 'I'm not a lawyer.'

"The place exploded. The UAW lawyer went berserk. He wanted to stop the hearing, go back to stage one and start all over again with me excluded from the room. The chairman said, 'Well, Mr. McElwaine may not be a lawyer, but he sounds like he's spent a suspicious amount of time in courtrooms, so let's go ahead. But please, Mr. McElwaine, don't cross-examine the witnesses any more.' "

The commission rejected the argument by Ford and the UAW.

"That was the turning point" for the import brands' influence, McElwaine says. "From there on in, we were in much better shape."

Although VW's influence faded and was replaced by that of the Japanese manufacturers, principally Toyota Motor Corp., the German automaker's role cannot be ignored.

"If it weren't for Volkswagen of America, AIADA never would have come about," says Malcolm Pray, who was chairman of the national VW dealer council in 1969. Pray helped form a government relations committee that was the forerunner of the Volkswagen American Dealers Association.

"We were formed at a time when we were needed; when the factories, Volkswagen and the others did not have the influence in Washington to represent the dealers with the government," Pray says.

Merger killed

By 1990, his last year as its president, McElwaine felt AIADA no longer needed to be an independent entity. He reached an agreement with Frank McCarthy, president of the larger National Automobile Dealers Association, to merge the organizations. But AIADA's board rejected the plan.

"I'm sure they had good reasons, but I was very disappointed," McElwaine says. "Now you've got a situation where AIADA and NADA are working parallel courses. More than ever, a merger makes great sense."

But no endings are completely happy or sad. Since his retirement, McElwaine has returned to his first love, writing. Danny and Sylvia, a musical he wrote based on his experiences with actor Kaye and Kaye's wife, just opened in London.

And like a good Hollywood guy, he has a concept and a title ready in case anyone wants to work on the AIADA narrative: "How did a small trade association composed of independent businessmen and women successfully challenge three of the largest corporations in the world? It could well be called Miracle on 16th Street, (where AIADA's Washington office was located).

And if anyone is looking for a way to describe McElwaine, he or she should check with Nemet.

"He's the one who saved the imported car industry in the United States," Nemet says. "He was its Henry Ford."

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2005, 12:32:50 pm »
Humor is hallmark of VW ads

By Laura Clark Geist
Automotive News / October 17, 2005

"Think small" shocked the advertising world.
In 1959, Volkswagen used two words -- "Think small" -- to advertise its Beetle.

That simple print ad by Doyle, Dane, Bernbach of New York sent shock waves throughout the bland, cookie-cutter world of 1950s advertising. The impact was startling, ushering in a creative revolution that changed the way everything from cars to toothpaste was marketed.

In the 1950s, full-color ads from Detroit automakers showed big, powerful cars against so-called beauty-shot backgrounds. The advertising copy was long, using words of adulation.

By contrast, VW's "Think small" ad was black and white. It showed a lonely-looking Beetle against a stark background. The copy used irony and a self-deprecating sense of humor.

Respecting the audience

"It was one of the first advertising campaigns to treat audiences like they had some intelligence. It was tongue-in-cheek and unexpected," says Linda Scott, associate professor of advertising, art and design at University of Illinois.

Before VW, Doyle, Dane, Bernbach catered primarily to local clients such as Ohrbach's department store.

William Bernbach, the creative chief of the agency, studied how consumers felt about products. Then he would decide how best to communicate those ideas in various media to gain the consumer's support.

Bernbach's ads often made fun of VW's unconventional designs and personality. Ads with headlines such as "Lemon," "Why won't your wife let you buy this car?" and "It's ugly but it gets you there" were typical of VW's ironic humor.

Connecting with people

Stephen Fox, author of The Mirror Makers, a book about the history of U.S. advertising, says the humor of the ads was rooted in Jewish culture.

"It was a sign of the times that they did not have to 'white-bread' it down and could speak in a recognizable ethnic way and still connect with the people at large out there," says Fox.

In 1963, VW did what no other importer had done in the United States: sell more than a quarter-million units. In1963 it sold 277,008 vehicles.

Mike Bernacchi, who teaches marketing at University of Detroit Mercy, says VW capitalized on the offbeat nature of its products.

"Volkswagen was able to be more unique than any other advertiser because their products were unique. They put a smile on your face," says Bernacchi, a longtime observer of automotive marketing.

"Volkswagen never attempted to be for everybody, because they know who they are and can zero in on it in a very honest and humorous way."

After Doyle, Dane, Bernbach showed the world its creative strength through Volkswagen, the agency grew dramatically.

Bernbach died in 1982. Four years later the agency merged with Needham Harper & Steers of Chicago to become DDB Needham Worldwide, part of the gigantic Omnicom Group.

DDB Needham held the VW account until 1992, but experts agree that the creativity of VW ads began to wane in the late 1980s. The ads became bland and uninspiring, and Volkswagen's trademark humor was absent.

In 1988, VW tried to connect its German heritage and engineering strength with ads showing VW cars zipping past engineers in white lab coats on a test track. But the campaign failed to connect with consumers.

In 1990 the agency followed with a campaign called "Fahrvergnugen" (German for driving pleasure), featuring a simple stick figure.

Yet VW's U.S. sales were tanking and the quality of cars being produced by its plant in Mexico was abysmal. By 1993, sales hit a low of 62,061 -- from a peak of 569,182 in 1970 -- and there was talk in Germany of a retreat from the United States.

"That was the turning point," recalls Karen Marderosian, director of marketing for Volkswagen of America.

DDB Needham spinoff

Berlin Cameron Doyle held the account for 16 months, until it was fired in December 1994 and the account was put up for review.

The automaker hired Boston ad agency Arnold Fortuna Lawner & Cabot, which later became Arnold Worldwide, the following March.

Arnold was a rapidly expanding shop whose clients included the regional McDonald's business.

The new agency was just what VW needed. In July 1995, Arnold launched the memorable "Drivers Wanted" campaign, returning to VW's fun-to-drive German heritage. Since there were no new products for 1996, VW developed cross-branded promotions with Trek mountain bikes and K2 skis. The campaign is credited with helping sales increase to 135,907 in 1996.

Arnold followed in 1997 with a string of clever, funky TV commercials targeted at Generation X consumers.

The commercials laid the brand foundation for a slew of successful products. A redesigned, larger Passat sedan arrived in the fall of 1997. In 1998, VW introduced the New Beetle with such imaginative ads as "Less Flower, More Power," a nod to VW's 1960s U.S. heyday. Critics say the New Beetle ads were as good the original Bernbach campaign.

The redesigned Jetta and Golf arrived in 1999. By then, VW marketers claimed that the brand had the youngest demographics in the industry with the average buyer age of 33. And sales climbed.

Trouble in 2002

But in 2002, U.S. sales began to slip again. The automaker's core products had aged, and new, upscale products such as the Phaeton had left consumers confused about the brand.

That combination hurt, admits Marderosian.

"We didn't have the product strength, and the brand was sort of feeling its way at the same time," she says. "I do think that the advertising had become watered down mainly by sort of what was going on with the brand overall."

VW told Arnold in September that it was being pulled off the account, effective Dec. 5. Bypassing a formal review, VW gave the business to Crispin Porter + Bogusky, of Miami. Crispin had held the BMW's Mini advertising account.

While Mini spent only about $22 million on U.S. advertising last year, compared with the VW brand's $338 million, Mini's unconventional campaigns are highly respected in the ad world.

Mini's campaigns are as innovative as the original Beetle campaign, says Bruce Vanden Bergh, who teaches advertising at Michigan State University.

So what should Crispin do?

Says Vanden Bergh, "Reinject the brand with its heritage while making it really relevant to the younger buyer."

It's a challenge that will require some big thinking.

Test your VW Knowledge crossword puzzle in PDF format (may or may not work for you):

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2005, 12:35:57 pm »
VW production tripped up in U.S.
Many problems led to closing of automaker's Pa. factory

By Tim Moran
Automotive News / October 17, 2005

Reasons for failure
Volkswagen's first attempt at North American manufacturing was its plant in Westmoreland, Pa. Here are 4 reasons for its failure.
1. Styling of the main product -- the Rabbit -- became too old.
2. The fuel crisis eased.
3. The home office was too slow to adapt to changing conditions.
4. Costs became too high.
It's hard to picture a brighter success, or a tougher tumble, than Volkswagen experienced with its manufacturing operations in the United States.

More than 1.1 million vehicles surged out of VW's Westmoreland, Pa., plant between 1978 and 1988. The plant enabled VW to pioneer both transplant manufacturing and new manufacturing processes, including intensive assembly line training that set quality precedents for automakers.

But mistakes and mistiming dogged VW.

The Corporation for Enterprise Development, a Washington economic think tank, concluded that taxpayers were left with more than $70 million in incentives and loans used to lure an operation whose promise never fully materialized.

Why the failure?

"It may have been the marketing. It may have been price. It may have just been the inability of the German and the U.S. organizations to integrate strategically for the market," says John O'Green, who came to Volkswagen of America Inc. through VW's credit arm in 1981 and finished as leader of business strategy and integration.

Carving a niche

The plant was built to produce the Rabbit, a car that initially earned praise for its mechanical systems and handling. High fuel economy and the availability of a diesel version gave the hatchback a powerful market niche during the energy crunch of the 1970s.

But VW didn't see the need to change its car styling to match a quick-moving American market. The automaker also didn't recognize that its small-car market niche would erode as fuel prices stabilized and competition increased. Meanwhile, a German board of management, overseen by a second-guessing board of stockholders, hamstrung U.S. progress.

"The German culture was too slow and too proud to adapt to the needs of other markets," Richard E. Dauch, who was general manufacturing manager for Volkswagen Manufacturing of America from 1976 to 1978, told Automotive News. Today Dauch, also a former General Motors executive, is CEO of American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc.

Dauch was chosen by James McLernon to put operations in place in America for VW.

McLernon was a former Chevrolet manufacturing chief tapped by then-VW management board Chairman Toni Schmucker to see if U.S. production would be feasible. Schmucker hoped local production could free VW of global currency exchange problems while igniting a new volume market for the automaker.

Under McLernon, the American operations purchased the Westmoreland facility, an unfinished Chrysler Corp. plant 35 miles south of Pittsburgh, with a $40 million loan from the state of Pennsylvania and spent about $250 million to equip it for assembly.

VW also bought an American Motors stamping plant in South Charleston, W.Va., investing heavily to make the plant capable of exterior sheet metal finishes.

Workers at the Westmoreland plant attach electrodes to a VW Rabbit before it is lowered into a 55,000-gallon tub of primer.

The body shell of the first VW Rabbit produced in Westmoreland in 1978 is lifted to allow plant traffic below it pass.

A VW employee, above, welds body shell pieces.
The automaker also built a plant in Fort Worth, Texas, to make air conditioning systems for the vehicles after a battle to convince the German board that Americans want factory-installed air conditioning and would not settle for dealership bolt-on kits, Dauch says.

"Within 18 months, from 1976 until April 10, 1978, we had production, excellent quality with no product recalls, over 1,000 a day within two months of launch, two-door, four-door, diesel, K-Jetronic (fuel injection), 10 different body colors, four different interiors," Dauch remembers.

Pulling in profits

"And in that period, every single goal set by the board of directors was met or exceeded," he said. "We launched on time and early. We were staying within budgets. We were actually making profits."

VWoA thought it saw a bright future for yet more vehicle assembly volume. To prepare for that future, it bought a former Chrysler missile plant in Sterling Heights, Mich., for an undisclosed sum.

But the market for VW vehicles had softened, and shutdowns caused by oversupply began at the Westmoreland plant as early as 1980. In addition, costs were high because engines and drivetrains were sourced from Germany.

Capacity was estimated at 240,000 vehicles annually. The closest the plant came to reaching that target was in 1980, when 200,000 Rabbits were built.

Employment at the plant had peaked briefly at 5,700, far from the 20,000 jobs Pennsylvania officials expected, and by 1984 only 1,500 were working at the plant.

"The Japanese were coming on like gangbusters in the early '80s," Dauch says. "They were having four- to six-year life cycles. You cannot compete if you have an eight- to 10-year life cycle, and the other guy's got a four-year life cycle."

VW sold the Sterling Heights plant back to Chrysler for $194 million in 1983. Chrysler made the acquisition based on the recommendation of Dauch, who left VW for Chrysler in 1980 after concluding that VW's leadership was unlikely to relax its grip on decisions made in the United States.

"In my new life, I recommended to my new chairman of the board, Lee Iacocca, to purchase the plant from Volkswagen. So we did that, and it became a brilliant assembly plant for Chrysler," Dauch says. Dauch was Chrysler's vice president of worldwide manufacturing.

When VW production at Westmoreland ended in 1988, the plant was sold to Sony Corp. VW sold the air conditioning plant in Texas to Valeo SA.

But the automaker didn't abandon North American manufacturing. It spent $1 billion in 1988 to construct a plant in Puebla, Mexico, to build Golfs and Jettas. That plant is still in operation.

O'Green says that while the U.S. operations had given it their best, in the end VW had to face facts.

"At some point all of the sunk costs and the continuing operating expenses of a production system couldn't be justified with the production volume and the sales," he says. "If I remember correctly, we were less than 1 percent of the total Volkswagen volume worldwide.

"To make regional manufacturing decisions for that kind of volume proved to be part of the faulty logic."

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2005, 12:37:40 pm »
VW Mexico seeks local suppliers
Strong euro puts pressure on companies with ties to Puebla

By Theresa Braine
Automotive News / October 17, 2005

Parts for VW
Here are the top suppliers to VW's assembly plant in Puebla, Mexico.

Alcoa Fujikura de Mexico, wiring harnesses

Autopartes Walker, exhaust systems

Autoseat, seats

Autotek Mexico, stampings

Benteler de Mexico, steering tube and stampings

Bocar Mexico, fuel-injection systems

Brose Puebla, door systems

Carcoustics de Mexico, sound deadeners

Faurecia Duroplast Mexico, instrument panels

Flex-N-Gate Mexico, pedals and stampings

GDX Automotive, plastics

Gestamp Puebla, stampings

GKN Driveline, driveshafts

Hella Inc., headlight systems

Kautex Textron de Mexico, fuel tanks

Lear Corp. Mexico, seats

Meritor Mexicana, door assembly

Peguform Mexico, bumpers

Plastic Tec, plastic pieces

Robert Bosch, electronic control units

Robert Bosch Sistemas Automotrices, electronic control units

SAS Automotive Systems, cockpit assembly

ThyssenKrupp Stahlunion, sheet metal

ThyssenKrupp Automotive Systems de Mexico, shock absorbers
Source: Volkswagen AG

The strong euro is prompting Volkswagen of Mexico's assembly plant in Puebla to seek more U.S. and Mexican suppliers.

VW Mexico already sources about two-thirds of its parts in Mexico. But the parts are not all dollar-cost based because many suppliers here are subsidiaries of European companies and get components from Europe, Thomas Karig, VW Mexico's director of corporate relations and strategy, told Automotive News.

"Our suppliers have to work on this, to find second-tier suppliers in Mexico and North America that can supply them on a dollar basis," he says. "We have to try to get as independent as possible from euro-based suppliers."

VW Mexico has more than 300 suppliers in Mexico, from which it buys everything from car seats to electronics.

Suppliers that get their foot in the door at VW's assembly operations in Mexico could experience growth in the coming years.

The 15,000-employee plant, which is about two hours southeast of Mexico City, produces the Jetta, known as the Bora in Mexico, the New Beetle and New Beetle convertible, and the Golf.

Production for all models is expected to reach about 270,000 units this year compared with 225,000 last year. The bulk of production is for the United States and Canada. But the plant also supplies Europe and Asia-Pacific, Karig says.

Despite the push to use more U.S. and Mexican suppliers, Karig says some parts can't be found in Mexico or will always come from Europe. Besides the obvious ones, which include diesel engines that are made in Europe for all cars in the group worldwide, are items such as metric nuts and bolts.

Nuts to bolts

"It's very difficult to find suppliers in America for metric nuts and bolts," Karig says. "Even in Mexico."

Two types of engines are made in Puebla: the four- and five-cylinder gasoline engines for the Jetta, New Beetle and New Beetle convertible. Transmissions and other engines are produced in Europe for all of the Volkswagen Group.

"The two engines that are built here, it's the only place in the group, the only factory in the group, where these kinds of specialty engines are built," Karig says. "We send these engines also to other assembly plants in the Volkswagen world, where they are assembled in other cars."

The trend in VW and in the industry, he said, "is specializing your factories in one kind of product and supplying this product to all world markets."

Mexico's big advantage in all this? It is the only country that has free-trade agreements with all of the important automotive markets, Karig points out.

The auto industry benefits from agreements between Mexico and Mercosur (the trade agreement among several South American nations), the European Union and Japan, among others.

"From all these regions you can export and import from and to Mexico without paying duties," Karig says.

"There's no other country in the world that has this kind of facility."

In comparison, he says, if you export a car from the United States to Europe you pay a 10 percent import duty.

Eye on Mexico

VW is working to increase sales to Mexican consumers as well.

"We're exporting more than 80 percent of our production, and we're importing about 70 percent of what we sell in Mexico," Karig says.

Karig couldn't project purchase volumes of parts for 2005 production to compare with the $2 billion that it bought last year.

Production reached 208,286 vehicles for the first nine months of 2005, an 8.2 percent increase over the same period in 2004, when 192,455 units were assembled, VW Mexico said this month. This included 163,783 vehicles destined for export, 14.9 percent more than during the first nine months of 2004, VW said, when 142,539 vehicles were made for export.

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2005, 12:38:11 pm »
...I think I'll wait fer the moofie ta come out........!!!!!!!?...?..... ::)...I hate LONG HYSTERI  umm HISTORICAL NOVELS....... ::) :P
Time is to stop everything happening at once

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2005, 12:38:44 pm »
COMMENT: For VW enthusiast, the miles just keep rolling

By Keith Price
Automotive News / October 17, 2005
Keith Price isn't sure how many miles are on his 1958 VW Microbus -- "the odometer doesn't always work" -- but he knows it's more than 113,000.
Brand loyalty was handed down in my family like an heirloom or a recipe.

In the early 1960s, my parents' affinity for Volkswagen products coincided with the phenomenal and intelligent Doyle, Dane, Bernbach advertising campaign and the rise of countercultural consumerism.

In our flat-roofed house, driving a rear-engine vehicle was as important as poetry and literature, the hi-fi in the living room and Ray-Ban sunglasses.

During World War II military service, my father developed an appreciation for the simplistic elegance of horizontally opposed air-cooled engines in both VW vehicles and shaft-drive BMW motorcycles.

My two teenage kids are VW enthusiasts. For three generations of our family, both new and used VWs have been inexpensive, durable, efficient and full of good-humored character. Volkswagens are vehicles you can drive, race, modify, rally, repair, camp in or live in. How many brands can offer all that?

VW ownership can sometimes signal vaguely liberal sensibilities.

You will be considered a conservationist and environmentalist -- even if your vintage Beetle or Bus leaves a grapefruit-sized oil spot where it's parked. The economical efficiency of VWs can be taken to extremes, like the pizza delivery guy I know in Toledo, Ohio, with 350,000 miles on his 1986 diesel Jetta. He runs a 50-50 mix of diesel and grease that he gets from a Chinese restaurant.

Longevity can be counted on and becomes a point of pride. A well-maintained VW of any age can make odometer readings irrelevant.

Several cross-country trips in 200,000- and 300,000-mile vehicles have shown me this. No worries, anyway. Availability of VW parts is as diverse as fairground food.

The community of VW clubs, events and fellow owner tech help supports the ownership experience in a way that current automotive marketing customer relationship management initiatives could never engender.

VWs were made to run on the autobahn. Engines tend to live long lives because, from an engineering standpoint, they are understressed. A long, healthy, understressed life is a noble objective, and it makes me want to be more like my VWs in that regard.

Within the VW experience, the friendships I've made and the sense of community I have shared have become every bit as significant as my destinations.

A long, strange trip? Bring it on.

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2005, 12:41:17 pm »
...I think I'll wait fer the moofie ta come out........!!!!!!!?...?..... ::)...I hate LONG HYSTERI  umm HISTORICAL NOVELS....... ::) :P

Awwwwwwwwwww, you snuck one in before I was finished!

With any luck a movie will come out and you will be VW StarStuck (or blinded). VW folk will have you assimilated and driving that Millenia Millennium Edition off a cliff or into a lake in no time. (our beloved cute 'n fuzzy Saf unharmed, of course)


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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2005, 01:10:33 pm »
I am glad to see VW's sales starts to rebound during its 50th anniversary. ;D

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2005, 07:50:10 pm »
Holy post-whoring, SirAM...  ;D  Sheesh.

The first article talks about Art Railton.  Any relation to our Railton?   ;)

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2005, 08:20:15 pm »
Please…somebody make him stop.  ;D

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2005, 12:52:32 pm »

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2005, 12:54:29 pm »
Be careful when you peel that duct tape off, SAM.   :D
"PC Load Letter...what the f_ck does that mean?"

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2005, 12:58:05 pm »

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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2005, 01:17:37 pm »
Oh, my!!!  :o

Shall I just leave it on and type more?


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Re: Celebrating VW of America's 50th Anniversary
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2005, 05:27:23 pm »
Volkswagon 1st dealership in Canada was in London out on Dundas St. I remember the wooden stick that came with the car for checking the gas tank. I received a letter from Volkswagon Canada the other day with an invite to their Grand Party for the new cars. They told me to register by e-mail which I attempted to do but their Computor said My e-mail address dosen't exist. If that don't exist then i guess i don't either and won't be attending their Gala event. They lost another potential customer just like that. Overall I like the VW products as they are fairly well built vehicles but don't require the Silly behavior of their Mangement.  :(