The VW Beetle is one of the most well known cars in history. The beetle came out initially in 1938, and has been in production in one form or another for most of the years from 1938 to 2003. The VW Beetle is without doubt one of the most classic cars in history. And the history of the VW Beetle is an interesting one indeed.
The original idea for the VW Beetle, or what is also known as the VW Bug, came from Adolf Hitler. It is said that he had the idea of a “peoples car” in 1924 whilst he way in prison. He wanted a car that anyone could afford, and also to help with the unemployment problem that existed in post WW1 Germany. In 1933 the Nazi party came to power and Hitler raised the issue of building special roads for the peoples car, and in 1933 the government began a program of construction of “autobahns” for German drivers. “Volkswagon” (VW) is the German name for peoples car.
Hitler wanted the design project for the Beetle started and gave the job to Ferdinand Porshe, later to become very well known for the “Porsche” cars that bore his name. Hitler specified some criteria, including a top speed of 62 mph (100 kmh), at least 42 miles to the gallon fuel consumption, able to transport at least 2 adults and 3 children and to be able to sell for less than what was at the time the equivalent of 86 pounds (UK currency).
Thus began the history of the VW Beetle, arguably the most famous car in history.
The big question was the engine to be used and the placement of the engine, and in 1935 an Austrial engineer came up with a design for a flat four engine, Porshe having previously decided that the engine should be rear mounted. This engine was an air cooled engine, and was cheap to build, and this engine powered hundreds of thousands of beetles for the next 40 years.
And the name even came from Adolf Hitler. He specified a car that would “look like a beetle” so it was well streamlined, and hence the name “Beetle”. Then “Bug”. And the history of the VW Beetle records that that body shape changed little over many decades.
The basic style of the VW Beetle changed little over many decades, though of course there were many different models, but each model had the same basic beetle shape, and the engine changed little too. The manufacture of the Volkswagen Beetle stopped in 1980, at what point it had become the worlds most popular car.
The VW Beetle is not the worlds fastest car. It will, technically, do 0 – 50 mph in 13 seconds, a little slower than most cars today, but it had other features that made it popular. It was cheap to buy and run, simple to work on and reliable. It had only a small motor and, although originally required by Hitler to do 42 mpg, actually did a little over 30 mpg. That, however, is still very good compared to many modern cars.
That’s the basic history of the VW Beetle. It was and is one of the worlds classic cars. It spawned a whole generation of great small cars, like the VW golf, and sold hundreds of thousands. It has also been the basis of many other vehicles. For example many vehicles such as dune buggies are based on a simple VW Beetel chassis.
The history of the Beetle is an interesting one. And for those interested in owning a VW Beetle there is still a range of great quality second hand Beetles available. And there are countless restored Beetles and car clubs with many Beetle owners.
So if you’d love your own piece of automobile history grab a VW Beetle. The history of the VW Beetle has shown it to be one of the worlds great cars.
by Peter Clark