"These are the stupidest things I've ever seen," a car hack said, as he donned a pair of cheap polarized 3D sunglasses. Volkswagen gave these to the international hordes gathered to bear witness to the unveiling of its new Beetle convertible. Actually, the video that VW showed, only viewable through the glasses, was a lot stupider, the usual youth-marketing nonsense where a couple of skanky surf hipsters, to the tune of "Sunny," drove their new Beetle convertibles to buy vintage vinyl and then hang out with some hip chicks at the beach.
The cars themselves, though, which rolled out onto the stage to a round of totally objective applause from the press, impressed everyone immediately. VW featured three different convertible models, brand-new but age-old. One took design cues from a 1950s Beetle, one from the 60s, and one from the 70s. It's clear that VW is hearkening back to a golden age when Beetle ownership was a sign of hippie nonconformism and general unwillingness to take marching orders from Detroit, and when a driving trip to the beach meant more than a three-hour nightmare to find a parking spot. "It is a symbol of youth, independence, simplicity and fun," said a stiff-backed German man who exhibited none of those qualities himself.
But the new Beetle, lower, longer and wider than the previous model, has a marvelous, contemporary look to it, and seems destined to inspire nostalgia of its own. With a now-announced sticker price of $24,995, it's might attract the attention of a whole new generation of record collecting surf bums. Polarized 3D sunglasses will be purely optional.