How VW Found Max, the Beetle with a German Accent

Cast your mind back to the simpler days of the late 2000s, when the world only had to contend with one existential threat at a time and VW could still boast about its MPG records…

Anyway, VW was getting ready to launch a new series of ads featuring a black 1964 Beetle as its spokesperson. Named Max, the Beetle interviewed celebrities like Heidi Klum, Leonard Nimoy, and David Hasselhoff, and boasted about the advantages of VW technology.

Surprisingly, even though there were no movie-style action shots, VW needed five Maxes to shoot these ads since they were to be shot all over the country.

“In an incredibly short timeframe, prime candidates were located, purchased, identically restored, and delivered to the public stage,” writes VW in a release. “State of Mind Customs in Oxford, MI handled the restoration process, completing the first three Beetles in just 30 days.”

The work required a team of 20 people but the result was impressive. Despite not being required to move on set, the five cars all got frame-off restorations with rebuilt engines and transmissions. Even the paint, single-stage paint with no clear coat, was redone to be period correct.

“Each Beetle is a period reflection of the way it would have rolled off the production line in 1964,” writes VW. “Restored with a combination of Volkswagen and reproduction parts, the Max Beetles are indistinguishable from one another, minus the license plates. Max 1 lives at Volkswagen of America’s Herndon, Virginia headquarters.”

Prices for new Beetles ranged from $1,595 to $1,685. Even accounting for inflation that’s cheap. According to us inflationcalculator.com, that’s the equivalent of between $13,191 and $13,936. That’s nearly $1,000 less than the cheapest car on sale today, the Chevrolet Spark.

The Beetle made 40 hp at 3,900 RPM and 65 lb-ft of torque at 2,400 RPM in 1964, It weighed just 1,675 lbs and returned 31.5 mpg, which only slightly worse than the Jetta’s 34 MPG combined—currently the most fuel-efficient car VW’s line-up.