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The Queen's Gambit

A Netflix series featuring some classic cars but maybe the wrong Beetle?

The Queen's Gambit - Netflix

An unexpected huge hit in 2020, The Queen's Gambit rightly won plaudits for its acting, cinematography and boosting the popularity of chess to a new generation. Set in the 1950's and 60's the show's production team went to great lengths to evoke the spirit of America during this era with great music, fashion, locations, and a fleet of stunning retro cars - Fords, Chevrolets, Chryslers and of course a Beetle.

The VW features in a scene with chess prodigy Beth (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her sometime mentor Benny (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) driving to Benny's spartan apartment in New York. And although it looks fabulous, apparently the car used is the wrong spec for the time and place, which is odd given the series' meticulous attention to detail.

The very knowledgeable Jason Torchinsky is way ahead of me on this stuff, so I'll just add his notes on this mix up from his website here... "This is, of course, a Volkswagen Beetle, but there’s some weirdness going on here. This Beetle is in America, based in New York specifically, yet it’s a Euro-spec Beetle, which we never got here.

It’s a ’67, but has Euro-spec amber rear indicators, a VW 1300 badge on the engine lid — in the U.S. they just said VOLKSWAGEN, except the year before when they said 1300, but this is a ’67, not a ’66. And ’67 VWs in America all came with the larger 1500cc engine, too. Also, in the U.S. those extra lights on the rear bumper were clear reversing lamps, not red rear foglamps.

Also, these scenes take place in 1967, and the Beetle isn’t really shown as being brand-new, so my guess is that the producers figured no one would notice it was a Euro-spec, bit too-new Beetle, and would just read it as any mid-’60s Beetle."

So there you have it - it's the wrong bug... I spotted a Beetle in another scene as Beth visits a local drug store. I wonder if this one is accurate...?

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