01/11/2012 12:22 pm ET Updated Mar 12, 2012

Volkswagen Beetle History: 7 Things You Didn't Know About The Bug (PHOTOS)

We've all encountered the Volkswagen Beetle at some point in our lives: Like Zelig, or Forest Gump, the car has been present (and photographed) in many of the defining moments of the 20th century - the Second World War, Woodstock, the fall of the Berlin Wall. Decade after decade, it's also made an appearance in landmark films and TV shows, including Annie Hall, Footloose (both!), The Shining and Mad Men. Legend has it that even Apple-founder Steve Jobs wanted his products to have the same cachet and longevity as a Volkswagen Bug. But as much as we love it, and as familiar as it is for us, how well do we really know this little car? And how does its story begin by bearing witness to the horrific crimes of Nazi Germany and still climax with the Summer of Love? The answer, as outlined in my book, "Thinking Small: The Long, Strange Trip of the Volkswagen Beetle" [Ballatine Books, $26.00], is as strange and surprising, as nuanced and revelatory, as any human life. And that's fitting. Because in the words of famous VW mechanic John Muir, while the Beetle may be made of glass and metal, it's still "Life" nonetheless.