Everyone, relax. I know things have been tense, but I assure you that everything is now under control. I say this because I can now report with confidence that we have successfully determined the year and model of the Volkswagen Beetle sitting on the ocean floor in Pixar’s latest movie, Finding Dory. We’re going to be okay.


Does this count as a SPOILER ALERT? Maybe, if knowing the year of a CG background prop will kill your enjoyment of a talking fish movie. So, you’re warned.

I took my son to see the fish-based movie (he’s fond of all sorts of fish-related entertainment; an all-cod production of Man of La Mancha delighted him) and noticed a prominent cameo of an old Beetle patiently soaking on the ocean floor.

Once I saw it, I knew the global public had a right to know what year that Beetle was, and, ideally, what model. I couldn’t let them down. Not this time.


The Beetle is shown twice; first from the rear, and then, in the post-credit sequence after the movie, from the front-quarter. The rear shot gave me a lot of crucial data, but I wasn’t able to confirm until I saw the front. After processing both images through my dedicated VW Identificatron 2100 (made from an Odyssey 2 connected to a bunch of flea collars wired in parallel, for image processing), I had my answer:

It’s a 1962 Beetle, a 1200 Standard (non-export) model.


Now, I need to explain why I think it’s a 1962 instead of a 1963. The rear shot clearly established it as a ‘62 or ‘63 – it has the three-chamber all-red taillights and the smaller, inverted cup-like license plate light. That combination only existed in 1962 or 1963.


In the front, the visual difference is the presence or absence of the Wolfsburg crest over the hood handle. While that crest is absent here, I noted that the chrome strip on the hood seems a bit too short to reach all the way to the hood handle, suggesting a gap that once could have housed the small crest. That’s why I think this one is a ‘62, just missing its crest after all those years in the deep. Some crab is probably wearing it like a pendant.

As far as the model goes, I know it’s a non-export 1200 Beetle because the bumpers lack the ‘towel rail’ overriders of the export cars. So, I suspect this bit of ocean floor is well outside US territorial waters.


As far as how it ended up there, I have no idea. But, since Beetles have been known to float, at least for a bit, the range of where an ocean-going Beetle may be is probably a bit larger than for most other cars.

Okay, I hope this information helps everyone sleep better.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)

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