As you likely know, one of the most crucial parts of my job, as delineated by a United Nations mandate known as UN Agenda 44, is to second-guess decades-old decisions made by Volkswagen regarding products that have not been built or sold for almost two decades. This is important work, arguably crucial to the fundamental operation of civilization as we know it, and while I understand it may be painful for many of you to endure, it needs to happen. So, with that in mind, everyone please steel yourselves and prepare to consider if VW should have blacked out the B-pillars on 1995 and later air-cooled Beetles built in Mexico.
If you’ve misplaced your background-briefing documents regarding this issue, I’ll grudgingly recap: nearly all modern cars have B-pillars—the post that is just behind the front doors—painted black. Most cars have all their pillars painted black—the windshield (A-pillars) pillars, the doorframe pillars, and so on.
This is done to visually create an illusion of an unbroken glass canopy area on the car and has been common since the 1990s. Some deliberately retro designs may not do this, but it’s an established hallmark of modern automotive design.
Volkswagen themselves used it in both revisions of the “new” Golf-based Beetle, starting in 1998:
Now, in Mexico, Volkswagen was still building the original air-cooled Beetle, and would continue to do so until 2003. It was calling it, creatively, the Sedan, and it was still fundamentally a 1938 design that had been tweaked and updated over the decades, with the biggest visual updates last happening around 1968, and even those were pretty minor.
In 1995, VW of Mexico put a lot of effort into giving their iconic car some updating to at least make it feel a bit more modern, as it was still an important car for the low end of the market. The most noticeable visual changes was the elimination of all the chrome, with bumpers and headlight bezels now becoming body-colored, and other formerly chrome parts, like door handles and hood latches getting a matte black look. Other chrome moldings were eliminated, giving the car a much cleaner, more modern look.
Really, it’s surprising how much those little changes do update the look of this 1930s design. This is also the point where I think VW should have gone that one little extra step and blacked out the B-pillars.
I think that works! It fits with the whole updated look of the car, and would help hide the grease stains and fingerprints that always get on that part of the door, anyway.
It’s subtle, but it makes a difference. It makes the window line more unified, and the whole car feels less broken up, more one contiguous form.
I think from the rear quarter, it maybe even works better:
This would have been a really simple thing to change, and from a visual impact to effort ratio, I think would have made a lot of sense.
I think for the 2003 Ultima Edition Beetle that was deliberately designed with full chrome and a nostalgic look, no, the black pillar would not work, but for the main run of body-colored bumper/light bezel Sedans VW was cranking out, the black B-pillar should have been there.
VW had played with blacking out chrome on Beetles before — the Jeans Bug special edition from 1974 is an example, and Brazil’s 1993 Itamar Fusca had body-colored bumpers (but still some chrome) but I think the black pillar only really made sense for the 1995 update because that’s when the black pillars would have been in mainstream style.
The good news is that anyone who owns a 1995 or newer Mexibeetle can very easily correct history and rattle-can their way into historical revisionism, and, I think come out with a smarter-looking Vocho.
In fact, I know people have already been doing this, and it’s especially common on hilariously absurd Beetle-to-Porsche 959 kits, that picture of which is what got me thinking about this in the first place.
Okay. Thanks for your time and assistance in sorting out this incredibly important issue.