VW Beetle the well loved icon
The History of the VW Beetle
The VW Beetle is one of the oldest name plates in the automobile history. This design icon has enjoyed huge success all over the world. Older models of the car are highly sought after with potential buyers willing to travel considerable distances to purchase one. These older and rarer models have been known to easily attract prices at auction in excess of £30,000. So, what is it about this rather clumsy looking little car that people can’t get enough of and how did it come into existence?
VW Beetle – The Concept
The Volkswagen (VW for short), which literally means people’s car in German, began life in April 1934 when Adolf Hitler gave orders to Ferdinand Porsche (that’s right the founder of the Porsche company) to produce a car that complied with some rather precise criteria. He wanted the VW to be a basic car capable of transporting 2 adults and 3 children at a speed of 100km/h (62 mph) but using no more than 7 litres of fuel per 100km. He wanted an engine that was air cooled, yet powerful enough to be capable of cruising along on the newly built autobahnen (motorways) and all the parts needed to be designed to be quickly and inexpensively changed. Make no mistake though, whilst the ideas came from Hitler, the design of the VW Beetle is entirely down to Porsche.
Finally, this Volkswagen was to be made available to all citizens of Germany at the time by means of a savings scheme for a price of 990 Reichsmark, which at the time was the same price as a small motorcycle. Average weekly income at the time was around 32RM making this truly a car for the people.
The First Models
In 1931, before Hitler gave his order, Ferdinand Porsche had already been working on Type 12 a car that resembled the Beetle as we know it today. All three prototypes of the Type 12 were destroyed during a bombing raid during WWII.
This model was followed by the Porsche Type 32, which had a flat-four engine, and was abandoned during the prototype stage.
These prototypes paved the way for Type 60, the first 2 prototypes of this model were made in 1935 and were known as V1 and V2. Rigorous testing was carried out in 1936 and 1937, in 1938 the split rear window was introduced to the design; this is something that was retained in all cars produced until 1953.
The Volkswagen factory was built in 1938 and production began. The first cars that they produced in large volume on the chassis were in fact a military vehicle the Type 82 Kűbelwagen and the Type 166 Schwimmwagen, which as the name suggests was amphibious.
In 1941, the first beetles as we know them began production on a small scale. The last VW Beetle rolled out of the factory in 2003 when production of the original style ceased, from 1938 – 2003 a staggering 21,529,464 were manufactured. Since 1997 Volkswagen have produced their newer style Beetle, this is a more compact car with the engine at the front, unlike the original and sleeker lines.
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So, there you have it – a potted history of an iconic car – but what do YOU love about the VW Beetle?