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Old car in front of Spanish colonial building in San Christobal, Mexico (Mark Eden)

They have a thing for bugs in Mexico. Not the street side grasshopper snacks, although they have a thing for those too. Volkswagen Beetles. Cars. They’re are everywhere, and in all forms. Rusted out, dead or almost dead, patched up or someone’s pride and joy lovingly restored and customised, they are impossible to avoid. 

First introduced to Mexico in 1954, and produced locally in Puebla from 1967, these little cars have been an institution ever since. Providing an affordable, easy to fix and fun ride, the “vocho” became nothing short of a love affair for Mexicans.

“You could replace the fan belt with panty hose,” recalls one Mexican taxi driver fondly.

 

However like many love affairs, the attraction began to fade in the late 1970’s and 80’s, with the event of an oil crisis and Beetles were suddenly seen as too polluting and noisy, and eventually the number of cars on the road dwindled. In 2012 taxi drivers were offered a significant lump of cash to trade in their iconic green and white vehicles.

These days, all of the cars to be seen are private, often painted eye catching colours and are as much Mexico as colonial architecture and the cobbled streets they drive on.

Old car in front of Spanish colonial building in San Christobal, Mexico (Mark Eden)
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