These Vintage VW Bug Photos May Inspire Auto Nostalgia

The iconic Volkswagen Beetle was retired from production this week
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The last Volkswagen Beetle has rolled off the line. The car–with links to both Adolf Hitler and hippies–was once the best-selling vehicle in the world, and has gone through multiple iterations over the past 80 years. The model has been killed and revived twice before, with re-launches in 1997 and again in 2011. While a future generation of the car is certainly a possibility, for now it’s buh-bye, Bug.

In commemoration of the iconic car’s retirement, we dove into the archives for a selection of snaps of VW Beetles at big (and small) moments of L.A. history.


1962, San Fernando Valley

vintage volkswagen beetle california vw bug retro

Photo: Digital Archives of the Los Angeles Public Library, Valley Times Collection

This photo was taken to accompany a Valley Times newspaper article titled “Signs of the Valley Today.” The reporters found slogan placards saying things like “Free sales pitch with each purchase,” and this bumper sticker on a German car.


1965, Watts

vintage volkswagen beetle california vw bug retro

Photo: Digital Archives of the Los Angeles Public Library, Herald-Examiner Collection

The driver of a Volkswagen is detained by three white police officers at a check-point during the Watts Rebellion of August, 1965.


1967, Santa Monica Freeway

vintage volkswagen beetle california vw bug retro

Photo: Digital Archives of the Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles Photographers Collection

A baby blue Beetle zooms down the I-10 near the Fairfax Avenue exit in this photo captured by L. Mildred Harris in April of 1967.


1970, Downtown

vintage volkswagen beetle california vw bug retro

Photo: Digital Archives of the Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles Photographers Collection

Two men in a Beetle drive down Temple Street outside the courthouse during Charles Manson’s trial for the Tate-LaBianca murders. Photographer Sue Terry captures them, and, in the foreground, “family” member Kitty Lutesinger.


1975 (approx), Downtown

vintage volkswagen beetle california vw bug retro

Photo: Digital Archives of the Los Angeles Public Library, Security and Pacific National Bank Collection

The location of this shot–5th and Main downtown–is known, though the exact date and the identity of the photographer have been lost.


1978, Pasadena

vintage volkswagen beetle california vw bug retro

Photo: Digital Archives of the Los Angeles Public Library, Herald-Examiner Collection

“Top’s down, Afghan’s up,” reads the caption of this photo from Herald-Examiner photographer Chris Gulker. He spotted the elegant hound (named Abrakadabra) popping out of a convertible cruising down Arroyo.


1983, Pacific Palisades

vintage volkswagen beetle california vw bug retro

Photo: Digital Archives of the Los Angeles Public Library, Herald-Examiner Collection

Photographer Chris Gulker shot this surfer who had strapped his board to the roof (there’s not much room inside one of these cars, after all) and headed down PCH to catch some waves after a rainy week in March of 1983.


1999, Hollywood

vintage volkswagen beetle california vw bug retro

Photo: Digital Archives of the Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles Photographers Collection

Local photographer Gary Leonard took this photo of a throwback Bug he spotted in the Metro station parking lot at Argyle and Hollywood Boulevard. His eye was drawn to the license plate, “A NATIV.”


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