Volkswagen is highlighting its heritage in the United States with an ad campaign called “An American Love Story” that will premiere during the Super Bowl. Days ahead of the big game, the brand released the full two-minute video that starts when the first Beetle arrived in 1949.
Embedded above, the ad features Neil Diamond’s 1971 song “I Am… I Said.” It begins in 1949, when Dutch businessman Ben Pon brought the first Type 1 (which later became known as the Beetle) to the United States. While some of the scenes have been recreated in black and white, some of the footage was shot in 1949. At the time, the Beetle was just another small, obscure European car with the engine mounted at the wrong end. It wasn’t the only one, and few could predict its success: it helped Volkswagen sell 569,696 cars on our shores in 1971.
The film highlights some of the key moments in Volkswagen of America’s history, and the ways in which the brand shaped popular culture. The emblematic Type 2 (more commonly known as the Bus) and Herbie the Love Bug both make an appearance. Volkswagen’s water-cooled cars, which represented the start of a new era for the brand, appear as well; one of the highlights from this period is a second-generation GTI rally car. Collectors of vintage Volkswagen models enjoy the spotlight before the ad transitions to more modern cars, like the fourth-generation Jetta, and ends by highlighting Volkswagen’s current electric cars, such as the heritage-laced ID. Buzz due out for 2025.
The conclusion? “We shape its metal. You shape its soul.”
Volkswagen has a point: Most of us have at least one story related to its cars. I’ve got enough to fill several Autoblog pages, from bringing a long-dead 1962 Beetle back to life in the 2000s to taking a 1972 Super Beetle (known as the 1302 here in Europe; shown above) on a road trip across France about a decade ago. I still own the 1302, and it’s often parked next to my 1990 Golf CL fixer-upper. Many of my colleagues have stories to share as well: Autoblog Senior Editor John Snyder notably has a 1974 Beetle, News Editor Joel Stocksdale owns a 2013 Beetle and Senior Editor Jeremy Korzeniewski owned a 1975 Bus camper.
You can catch Volkswagen’s Super Bowl ad during the third quarter of the game, and tell us your Volkswagen story in the comments.