18 VW Beetle through the years

Production of the famous Volkswagen Beetle is finally ending.

The curvy compact car got its start in Nazi Germany, played a role in the economic resurgence of Germany after World War II, and became a worldwide icon.

Ferdinand Porsche presents a new convertible version of the KdF-Wagen to Nazi leader Adolph Hitler in 1938. KdF stood for "Kraft durch Freude" or "strength through joy." Designed to be affordable and easy to operate for ordinary Germans, it was more popularly known as the "people's car," or "Volkswagen."
Very few Volkswagens were actually produced for German citizens during World War II. Instead, the factory that had been built to make Volkswagens was used to produce military vehicles. After the war, though, the factory was restarted by the British military and production of Volkswagen cars began. By 1949, it was even exporting them.
By 1955, more than one million Volkswagen cars had been produced. ("Beetle" didn't become the car's official name until the late 1960s.) It would go on to become, at least for a time, the best-selling car in the world.
Female gas station employees on rollerskates attend to a Volkswagen in Deidesheim, Germany, in 1954. The original Beetle's engine was in the back, leaving the area under the hood for cargo and the spare tire.
 A man riding a camel in Turkey encounters a Beetle on the road from Istanbul and Ankara.
With the engine located in the back, the rear wheels powered the car forward, giving the Beetle excellent traction in difficult conditions. Here, skiers are getting into their Volkswagen Beetle in the Swiss Alps.
Beetle bodies being carried over the production line in 1965. Later, they would be lowered down onto the cars' chassis.
By the 1960s, Beetles could be found across the globe and they were being used for a variety of purposes. Many cities even used them as police cars.
Other cars were considered, but a Beetle was cast in the starring role of the 1968 Disney movie "The Love Bug." The film helped cement the car's popular image as a lovable automotive companion.
The Beetle, along with the Volkswagen bus, became synonymous with the hippie movement in the 1960s and '70s. Here, a couple of attendees at the 1969 Woodstock music festival take a nap on a Beetle.
The Beetle's simple and instantly recognizable design has made it a frequent basis for automotive art. This Beetle, being driven in a parade in New York City in 1970, has a body made from decorative white wrought iron.
A 1938 model of an early VW Beetle is on display at Christie's London headquarters. The model was bought for just over $65,000 in 1996.
In 1997, Volkswagen unveiled the New Beetle. This car carried the Beetle's iconic curved shape but it was an entirely different car. Sharing most of its engineering with the popular Volkswagen Golf, the engine was moved to the front like most other cars by this time.
Preparing for an expo in Hanover, Germany, in 2000, a worker carefully removes the protective foil from a New Beetle.
Next to Volkswagen's factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, is the Autostadt, a visitor center that features a museum, an off-road driving course, restaurants, a cinema and a test track for kids. Here, children drive electric-powered toy Beetles in order to receive a "children's driving license."
Volkswagen employees in Germany hold spare parts as they pose in the shape of a heart around an old VW Beetle. The company promises to supply parts for the old Beetle over the next 15 years. The banner at the bottom reads 'we will continue to attend to you.'
Even after the New Beetle was introduced, the old rear-engined Beetles continued to be made for some markets. The last one was finally produced in 2003 in a factory in Mexico. Here, musicians serenade the last old-style Beetle as it leaves the assembly line.
With its playful shape, the Beetle has inspired endless numbers of miniature toy versions. Here, some of them are displayed inside the front trunk, or "frunk," of an old Beetle.