The light blue Bug -- No. 21,529,464 in the car's 68-year history -- came off the line at the Volkswagen's plant in Mexico, serenaded by mariachi musicians, and headed for the company's museum in its hometown of Wolfsburg, Germany.

   

It was a sad day for workers at the plant in Puebla and for diehard fans around the world, although they said the car will live for as long as someone is still driving one around.

 

Lyrical

 

"You didn't just participate in the production of a car but also in the creation of a legend."
--Reinhard Jung, the head of Volkswagen Mexico

The factory workers who built the last Beetle had their picture taken beside it on Wednesday and Volkswagen executives waxed lyrical.

   

"You didn't just participate in the production of a car but also in the creation of a legend, a legend that will stay in the minds of hearts of all those who ever had a Bug as a companion," said Reinhard Jung, the head of Volkswagen Mexico.

 

"The decision to end production was taken by the customer, by a large drop in demand," said Christine Kuhlmeyer, an executive at Puebla, the world's only plant to build the car since 1996. "It is the natural cycle."

   

"Everything has to end sometime and the Bug's time has passed. It makes you nostalgic," said Ramon Soriano, a 62-year-old man who takes photographs of tourists outside Puebla's cathedral.

 

"For us it will never die. We will keep them running for our descendants, not just for ourselves," said Andrei Gorelchenkov, president of the Moscow Auto Beetle Club who is known as "Hot Bug" in Beetle circles.

   

Despite its status later as a counterculture icon of the 1960s, the Beetle was originally thought up in the mid-1930s by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

   

He ordered designer Ferdinand Porsche to come up with an affordable "People's Car" (Volkswagen in German) that could seat two adults and three children.

   

Production took off after World War Two and the Beetle became a symbol of West Germany's economic miracle. It was then adopted by the hippie generation and by anyone who wanted a cheap, reliable car with a touch of romance about it.