MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Now we'd like to take a few minutes to remember an automotive icon. This week, the last Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line in Puebla, Mexico. The car, beloved as it has become, actually has a complicated history. The original idea was formulated by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, who wanted a people's car, a Volkswagen. But the car wasn't actually produced for civilians until the late 1940s, when the victorious Allies wanted to get Germany's economy going again. Multiple rebrands later, a hipster favorite was born.
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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: It's ugly, but it gets you there.
MARTIN: With all the other small car options on the market now, we wondered if the quirky bug will be missed. So we asked you to tell us your favorite Beetle memories, and you did. More than 900 people wrote us, including Kristine Smith. She got a robin's-egg-blue Beetle convertible when she was 16.
KRISTINE SMITH: It really felt like a mascot or like a family pet to me. So it was a really hard decision and when I sold the car because I did feel like I was giving my dog away or something.
MARTIN: A lot of you wanted to tell us about the Beetle's durability or the lack thereof. We're still wondering why so many of you had to use an ice scraper on the inside of the windshield. And then, there was this other thing. Robert Rillo remembers driving to a concert one summer with his sister and her friend and having to wait hours in the Oklahoma heat to park.
ROBERT RILLO: And as we were sitting there, he goes, you know, man, it sure is getting hot in here. And we thought, yeah, it's just hot. Then a few seconds later, he's like it's getting really hot in here. And then, a second or two later, he jumped up, and smoke was kind of coming out from underneath the seat.
MARTIN: The battery was on fire. They managed to put out the fire, go to the concert and see Huey Lewis and the News. But they missed the opener, Stevie Ray Vaughan.
RILLO: That was tragic (laughter).
MARTIN: We were so sorry to hear that. So here you go, Robert. This one's for you.
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STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN: (Singing) She my sweet little thing. She my pride and joy.
MARTIN: But everybody who wrote us forgave the Beetle's quirks. Kelly Moors certainly did. She says that in 1976, quote, "I was 16. My boyfriend was 17. He was handsome and sweet and drove a VW Beetle. I loved them both. He taught me to drive it, stick shift and all. He also taught me to kiss in it. It was a lovely summer." You go, Kelly. And she was not the only one to find love.
JESSICA BRAY: He had a Beetle with a beard, and I called him the guy - beard with a Beetle.
MARTIN: That's Jessica Bray. She met a guy when she was the chair of a local car show in Kentucky.
BRAY: By the end of the show, we ended up exchanging numbers. We went out to dinner. And six months later, he asked me to be his wife.
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BRAY: We've got a bus. We've got a single-cab truck that we call tetanus because it is all rusted out.
MARTIN: Herbie the Love Bug would be so proud. Those are just a few of the hundreds of memories you sent us of a Volkswagen Beetle.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.