Many Volkswagen vehicles have gone down in history as some of the most popular icons ever to grace the automobile industry. Easily identifiable and eminently cute, the Beetle has been immortalized in pop culture as Disney's Herbie and The Transformers' Bumblebee. The Bus or Kombi is commemorated in the animated film Cars in the character of Filmore, the organic fuel-guzzling hippie. The Karmann Ghia is always drooled over by car enthusiasts for its sleek, sporty curves and never fails to make heads turn.
German automobile-manufacturing company Volkswagen was founded in 1937. Volkswagen (VW; pronounced foksvagen) means 'people's car'. The original tagline of the company is 'Out of Love of the Car' or 'For the Love of the Automobile'. In 1934, upon Adolf Hitler's request, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche agreed to design a car that would be affordable to the ordinary German public via a savings scheme. Mass production began in 1938 and these cars, called the Type I, had the distinct round roof and rear-mounted engine particular to the Beetle.
In the mid 1950's, worldwide sales of the Beetle soared. Many Filipinos took to the round car when it was introduced in the Philippines. So much so that when the VW Country Buggy, a rugged-terrain vehicle produced in Australia, was exported to the Philippines it was given a local name, Sakbayan (Sakay Bayan). The Country Buggy did not do well in sales and was soon discontinued. Very few units of the Sakbayan are alive in the world today. And some of these units are found in the Philippines.
The Filipino's unwillingness to part with items with sentimental value and our prudent insistence on repairing rather than replacing has preserved, refurbished and redesigned many Volkswagens, particularly the Beetle, to road-worthy condition and more. Quite a feat considering the tricky air cooled ventilation system of many early VW models coupled with their outdated automotive technology. In the Philippines, the Beetle will always be classically timeless and unrelentingly cool despite its age and 'Volks' vehicles will always be revered as some of the most creative and unorthodox car designs ever come up with.
So what better way to establish a Guinness World Record than to hold the largest gathering of Volkswagens as a testament to the Filipino's sentimentality, and sheer love of the limelight and of Volkswagens.
On April 6, 2008, the Volkswagen Club of the Philippines held a parade to do just that. Over 818 Volkswagens from all 'wheels' of life and from the all over the Philippines participated to make the event both record-making and extraordinary.
From Quezon City Hall down Commonwealth Avenue, back to the Quezon Memorial Circle from Tandang Sora and finally to Mother Ignacia along Quezon Avenue, Beetles, Country Buggies, Karmann Ghias and Kombis cruised the streets to showcase the evolution of Volkwagens through 70 years of automotive genius. And what a sight it was to behold! The myriad of colors (ranging from the popular pastels to the two-tones and flame designs), the festive atmosphere, the music blaring from the car stereos and the friendly engine roars entertained fanatics, spectators and documenters alike.
The scorching summer city heat did nothing to deter the festivities. The sight of hundreds of Volkwagens lined up on the street was an unforgettable vision in itself though there were some models that stuck to mind long after the event was over. Some remarkable highlights of the parade include: the Off-Road Beetles, the Ultimate Pinoy Kombi, the Beetle masquerading as a Royce, and the Mutt on a Bug.
It will always be remembered as the day the humble People's Cars (and their proud owners) took to the streets and became masters of the road in the biggest car event of the year - all for the love of the car.