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New Beetles
In the early 1990's, a secret design project-- a modern version of the VW Beetle-- was hatched by then-Audi designer Jay Mays. Coincident with Ferdinand Piech's being named chief of the entire Volkswagen concern (which includes Audi, Porsche, and Bentley), the New Beetle Concept 1 was presented to Pietch, whose single comment was, "In order".

To American ears this comment may barely seem like a response, but coming from a German engineer, and the grandson of the man who created the original Beetle, it was actually high praise. In January 1994 the Concept 1 appeared at the Detroit auto show and traditionally anti-Beetle Volkswagen management and designers could not deny the emotional power that Ferdinand Porsche's humble creation still holds for Americans.

The first New Beetles were sold in 1998, and demand for the cars far outstripped supply. Now in the third model year, it is still sometimes hard to come by certain color and feature combinations, and more and more of these distinctive cars populate the American roadscape every day.

My first exposure to the New Beetle was a photo on the cover of a design magazine called "graphis". I spotted the cover across the length of an enormous bookstore and my heart leaped into my throat. My mother had owned a 1965 Beetle to which I had been deeply attached, so attached that I cried when she told me she had sold it. I bought the magazine despite its high pricetag ($18.75 to be exact) and could not stop looking at the photos and reading the article. I plundered the internet for more information and completely blew off work the morning of the New Beetle premiere at the Detroit auto show in 1998 as I attempted to watch it on the web.

When my Honda abruptly died in the summer of 1998, I looked into buying a Beetle to replace it, but with a two-month wait time, it just wasn't feasible. So I bought another Civic, and reluctantly put aside the idea of having a Beetle of my own. When the 1999 model year began to get publicity a few months later, my obsession was reawakened and I decided that I really did need to own a Beetle.

In April of 1999, I put down a deposit on a silver TDI New Beetle with luxury package-- one of the more difficult combinations to come by at that time. Over the course of the next six months, i made many phone calls to my dealer, any dealer on the East coast who was rumored to have TDI's in stock, and Volkswagen customer service. Finally in late September my dealer left me a voicemail which began: "Hi lisa, it's Elliott. Guess what i have for you...."

It's several months later and I still often drive the spacepod just for the joy of it. I get waved at and stared at and my co-workers never seem to mind the slight lack of headroom in the back when we go out to lunch.

I'm stunned at the impact the purchase of a car has made on my life, and on the lives of the other people on the list. I think it's interesting enough that it ought to be documented, which is why I am doing this web site.

Huh? (welcome to orientation)
• New Beetles
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