1969: Volkswagen Beetle lets you live below your means

You could buy a new Chevy Nova for $2,315 in 1969… or a Beetle for $1,799.

Doyle Dane Bernbach’s iconic advertisements for Volkswagen, starting in 1959, made the advertising agency a legend in its own time and helped Volkswagen of America sell tiny, funny-looking air-cooled cars in vast numbers. The Type 1 Beetle’s 1930s design became increasingly dated as the 1960s went on, but the car’s cheapness and simplicity kept sales strong all the way through the decade.

Here’s a DDB-made magazine advertisement pitching the Beetle as a car you might buy even when you can afford something bigger and more modern.

27 miles per gallon from a car that weighed less than a ton doesn’t sound so great now, but it was very impressive in 1969.

Americans had plenty of choices for cheap, reliable new cars in 1969, including the AMC Rambler ($1,998), Toyota Corona ($1,950), Ford Falcon ($2,226), Datsun 510 ($1,896), Plymouth Valiant ($2,307) and Chevrolet Nova ($2,315).

For the brave, there were cheap, unreliable new cars that year, such as the Renault 10 ($1,775), Subaru 360 ($1,300), Austin America ($1,845), Fiat 850 ($1,466), MG Midget ($2,315) and Honda 600 ($1,398). If you wanted to be very, very cheap and still get a car that had a good shot at starting and driving every day, though, you couldn’t beat the $1,799 Beetle.

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