Aug 10, 2023

August 10th: Beetle Mania (Nazis, UFOs, And Vanishing Folksingers)

On August 10th, 1974, in Ann Arbor Michigan, 50 year old Connie Converse wrote a letter to her brother that included the sentences “Let Me Go. Let me be if I can. Let me not be if I can’t” and packed up her Volkswagen Beetle and disappeared. Like a specter she had vanished and what happened to her remains a mystery. Converse had been a folk singer in New York in the 1950s but gave it up without finding much success. Her only brush with fame was a television appearance in 1954 on The Morning Show on CBS with Walter Cronkite, but in 1961 she gave it up and moved to Michigan only to see Bob Dylan and other folk artists find fame.

Her last known sighting was when she packed up her Beetle and drove away from her family home in 1974. Less than a year a later, on March 4, 1975, another folk singing hopeful, Jim Sullivan, left Los Angeles in his Volkswagen Beetle to head to Nashville to find his lucky break but disappeared in the New Mexico desert. His car was found with his clothes, guitar, and money in it (as well as a box of his unsold solo album) but Sullivan had vanished. Given that his only recorded album was called U.F.O. some speculate he may have been abducted by aliens.

News source MSN ranked the Volkswagen Beetle as 15th in the 20 most recognizable cars in history. Over 20 million Beetles have been produced since its inception in 1938, when the car was first introduced from a concept thought up by the leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, who wanted a cheap, simple car to be mass-produced for his country's new road network.

Volkswagen discontinued the Beetle in 2019 after more than 80 years in production.