History of the Beetle

The Volkswagen Beetle, officially called the Volkswagen Type 1 (or informally the Volkswagen Bug), is an economy car produced by the German auto maker Volkswagen (VW) from 1938 until 2003. With over 21 million manufactured in an air-cooled, rear-engined, rear-wheel drive configuration, the Beetle is the longest-running and most-manufactured car of a single design platform and one of most-manufacturing of a single model commonly anywhere in the world.

In 1931, Ferdinand Porsche developed the Porsche Type 12, or “Auto für Jedermann” (car for everybody) for Zündapp. Porsche already preferred the flat-four engine, and selected a swing axle rear suspension (invented by Edmund Rumpler), while Zündapp insisted on a water-cooled five-cylinder radial engine. In 1932, three prototypes were running. All of those cars were lost during World War II, the last in a bombing raid in Stuttgart in 1945.

The Zündapp prototypes were followed by the Porsche Type 32, designed in 1933 for NSU Motorenwerke AG, another motorcycle company. The Type 32 was similar in design to the Type 12, but had a flat-four engine. NSU’s exit from car manufacturing resulted in the Type 32 being abandoned at the prototype stage.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler gave the order to Ferdinand Porsche to develop a Volkswagen (literally, “people’s car” in German, pronounced [ˈfɔlksvaːɡən]). The epithetVolks- literally, “people’s-” had been previously applied to other Nazi sponsored consumer goods such as the Volksempfänger (“people’s radio”). Hitler required a basic vehicle capable of transporting two adults and three children at 100 km/h (62 mph). The “People’s Car” would be available to citizens of the Third Reichthrough a savings scheme, or Sparkarte (savings booklet), at 990 Reichsmark, about the price of a small motorcycle (an average income being around 32RM a week).

( source wikipedia )



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