This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the Chappaquiddick Incident, in which Mary Jo Kopechne died when the car she was in, a 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 driven by Ted Kennedy, went off a bridge and sank. Kennedy extricated himself, but she drowned.
Much has been made of the story in the last four decades, but none was better than what the National Lampoon did — back in the days when they actually produced funny material — in their 1973 Encyclopedia of Humor. At the time, Volkswagen was running a series of ads touting the water-tight quality of their Beetles, thus this parody:
Since you likely can’t read the print, here’s how the copy under the photo reads:
The way our body is built, we’d be surprised if it didn’t. The sheet of flat steel that goes underneath every Volkswagen keeps out water, as well as dirt and salt and other nasty things that can eat away at the underside of a car. So it’s watertight at the bottom. And everybody knows it’s easier to shut the door on a Volkswagen after you’ve rolled down the window a little.
That proves it’s practically airtight on top. If it was a boat, we could call it the Water Bug. But it’s not a boat, it’s a car.
And, like Mary Jo Kopechne, it’s only 99 and 44/100 percent pure. So it won’t stay afloat forever. Just long enough. Poor Teddy. If he’d been smart enough to buy a Volkswagen, he never would have gotten into hot water.