A HUGE chapter in motoring history is coming to a close.

The Volkswagen Beetle, the oldest car still in production, is to be made no more.

And the old Beetle enjoyed one last moment of glory again as Volkswagen unveiled the last edition of the bug, a cult classic the company plans to stop producing in a fortnight.

There were also moments to remember the vital role played by a Marsden man in ensuring one of the world's most famous cars hit the road in such numbers.

Major Ivan Hirst - who died in 2000 at the age of 84 - was credited with getting the VW factory up and running again in Wolfsburg, Germany, after the Second World War.

And many in the industry believe he was the man who saved the Beetle.

The presentation of the "new" model came under a cavernous white tent next to the Volkswagen plant in the central Mexican city of Puebla.

It is the last factory still producing the cars.

After Wednesday, July 30, when the last one rolls off the production line, nearly 70 years of automotive history of perhaps the best known, best loved and biggest selling car of all time, comes to an end.

The last edition of the bug has a retro look, with chrome trim from bumper to bumper, whitewall tyres and CD player, but it also stays true to the car's roots.

It is still a four cylinder, manual transmission vehicle that weighs less than 1,780lb.

Armando Pasillas, a 60-year-old factory worker who has been building bugs in Puebla since 1967, drove a last edition Beetle into the tent, then stood beaming as journalists from around the world swarmed the vehicle.

"You feel a little sad because it's finally over," said Mr Pasillas, who started at the plant three years after the bug made its debut in Mexico.

"We knew this day was coming for years, and now it has arrived. All there is to do now is move forward."

Volkswagen plans to produce 3,000 last edition bugs and the last Beetle will roll off the assembly line on July 30. They will cost £4,800 each.

Major Hirst was with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers when the war ended and was handed the task of getting the bomb-blasted VW factory up and running.

The firm appreciated his efforts so much that they set up the Ivan Hirst Scholarship after his death to honour research students.

Maj Hirst, who was born in Saddleworth, lived in Marsden from 1976 up until his death. He was a widower.

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* Ferdinand Porsche designed the first model in 1934 - on an idea put forward by Hitler.

* The early models were known as The Sedan.

* The Beetle became a film star in the 1970s with the Herbie movies.

* The early Beetle's top speed was 62mph.

* And the price? £85, or £90 with cloth sunroof.

* In 1969 a record 1,076,897 Beetles were produced. In total more than 21m hit the roads.