The Beetle Sunshine Tour began in 2004 as one fan’s desire to gather like-minded owners of the revived Volkswagen classic for a little weekend drive, and maybe some currywurst. This year, it proved again why it has become the world’s largest gathering of Beetle owners and fans.
More than 650 Beetles of every vintage filled the show field on Aug. 20 near the Baltic Sea beach of Travemunde, Germany, following several driving tours snaking through the German countryside. Nearly every Beetle on the show field sported some level of special tuning or customization.1 While many of the gathered cars sported German license plates, most of Europe had some representation, with one group driving 1,050 miles from Spain to enjoy the camaraderie.
For its part, Volkswagen brought a few Beetles from its own collection. The 1974 Beetle GSR, with its classic black-on-yellow paint scheme, was one of the standouts among the original Beetle coupes and convertibles at the festival. From the opposite end of the Bug’s family tree came a 2001 Beetle RSi, a limited edition model sold only in Europe with a 225-hp V-6, 4Motion all-wheel-drive and a carbon-fiber interior. Only 250 of the RSis were built, for a price tag of about $80,000 at the time, and among those on the field was serial number 1.
That one community can embrace such a radical difference in vehicular style demonstrates the enduring appeal of the Beetle. The festival’s slogan translates roughly as “crazy and nothing for squares,” and you can see the breadth of individuality that sets Beetle owners apart in the gallery below.