After 81 years, production of the Beetle - one of the most significant cars ever built – has come to an end. Introduced in 1938, it’s almost impossible to imagine where Volkswagen would be today without it - such was its success.

In spite of its incredibly long run there have only been three generations of the iconic German ‘people’s car’. The original went from a Nazi propaganda tool to becoming a cultural icon with VW selling over 21 million worldwide. The second-gen car (launched in 1998 as the New Beetle as the original was still being built in Mexico) found over 1 million happy homes while 500,000 of the 2011 third-gen – which combined classic old-school styling with loads of new tech and kit – have been built. However, with consumers switching to SUVs and CUVs sales have gone through the roof for these family haulers while demand for the cute, two-door Bug had waned.

The final Beetle – a Denim Blue coupe – built at Volkswagen’s Puebla plant in Mexico (all second- and third-gen models have been built there and sold in 91 markets worldwide) will head to the brands museum in the city with the factory shifting its resources to produce a new compact SUV (reportedly called the Tarek) which will sit below the Tiguan. It received a fitting sendoff surrounded by hundreds of proud factory workers, and serenaded by a Mariachi band.

Volkswagen had already announced the end of the car late last year and launched a special-edition model to commemorate its demise and there are no plans for a Beetle replacement by the carmaker.