Given the ardent popularity of the ‘Mighty Bug,’ the Volkswagen Beetle Owners’ Club, along with the Galle Face Hotel and The Mount Lavinia Hotel, has made arrangements to hold the Annual World Volkswagen Day Celebration on Sunday, June 26 starting at 8 am. The history behind this celebration came about with a date being allocated to celebrate the much loved Volkswagen that brought about motoring to the masses with over 21 million examples that were produced in Air Cooled form and the number continues to grow with the New Beetle in Water Cooled form.
Most VW Clubs around the globe celebrate this event on the Sunday closest to June 22. The significance of this date goes back to the ‘days of the Furor’ who laid the foundation on this day in 1936, at a location which was named KDFStadt to produce the KDF Wagen. This was the concept of a people’s car for all German families which has the ability to carry a family of four at a speed of 100 kms per hour. This was made a reality with the engineering genius of Ferdinand Porsche who developed a prototype that met the requirements and was given the nod by German engineering authorities to go ahead with the project.
Back home, the mighty Bug was introduced as early as 1953 with the importation of an initial consignment of Split Glass Beetles by Clarence Amarasinghe & Company Ltd., better known as Car Mart Ltd., who was at the helm of the motoring circuit having introduced the French Peugeot with the sleek 203 model that created a class of its own, very specially amongst the top rung of the Civil Services, not to mention the Police who maintained their brand loyalty with Peugeot for many years.
It has been noted that the initial introduction of the Beetle wasn’t a smooth one as recollected by most that belong to this era, as this was somewhat a novel machine with an engine that sat at the rear of the vehicle and didn’t require water as well.
Nevertheless, a new generation of motorists took the plunge which set off a wave of Beetle mania across Ceylon. Great interest was shown by the young cadets who joined the Civil Service who had the ability to obtain a loan to purchase a car and the popular choice was the VW Beetle. Several university dons also took to the wheel of the Mighty Bug thanks to its ease of handling on the winding roads which lead them to their campuses.
The popularity of the Mighty Beetle found owners from all parts of this island, having sold over 3500 units within a seven year span prior to the restriction era that came into effect in 1960. Notwithstanding the restrictions, Beetles continued to find their way to the Isle with the introduction of the famous 1300 model and the sought after 1303 Model that has an ardent following amongst both the young and old.
Its worldwide popularity is unsurprising as the sight of a Beetle radiates a smile to most as it seems to re-kindle a sense of joy which in all probability may be in keeping with its origins being the KDF Wagen which meant the Strength through Joy Wagon.
The Volkswagen Beetle Owners’ Club has also come up with a novel project which may be a first carried out by any motoring club in Sri Lanka, by launching a raffle from which the winner would take home a collectors Vintage Oval VW Beetle in pristine condition. All VW Owners regardless of the models are cordially invited to be a part of this unique motoring event and join in the parade and the activities of the celebration. Contact the Club Secretary, Nalin Perera (Mobile: 071-7268998).