Curious facts about the legendary Volkswagen Beetle (12 photos)

16 May 2024

The official German name of this car is Volkswagen Käfer - Volkswagen Beetle. And the Fuhrer of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler, ordered the development and start of production of this “people’s car” as soon as he came to power back in 1934.

Hitler, through the creation of the “People's Car” (the exact translation of the word Volksvagen), hoped to show how charmingly and lovingly the Germans lived under his dictatorship for ordinary people. Like, every “true Aryan” can buy himself a car to drive along the new highways - even if it’s just such a simple one.

They say that Corporal Adik personally sketched the first couple of sketches of the appearance of the new rear-engine car. And the car was originally supposed to be called Kraft durch Freude (KdF-Wagen) - the car “Strength through Joy”. From the name of the corresponding Nazi society, which took upon itself the responsibility for the “proper rest” of the population of the Third Reich.

Hitler's sketch of the Beetle

The car was developed by the famous German designer Ferdinand Porsche, the same one who later became the Tigerfather - the creator of the Tiger heavy tank.

One of the features of the machine was its extremely low price - only about 1000 Reichsmarks. That is, about eight average salaries of the average German worker in the late 1930s. Moreover, it was possible to pay in installments - only 5 marks per month.

However, under the Nazis they never had time to put the Beetle into production in Germany - due to the outbreak of World War II in the fall of 1939. Although the Nazis had already managed to build an entire factory for the machine in the city of Wolfsburg and even launched an advertising campaign. 330 thousand people have already pre-ordered the car - I’m sure it’s clear what all the customers were left with.

Nazi advertisement for the Beetle

During the war, the enterprise was adapted for the production of the Kübelwagen army all-terrain vehicles created on its basis. About 15 thousand zvangarbeiters worked here: prisoners of war plus workers stolen from the east, including Polish and Soviet women.

Kübelwagen - translated from German as “tank car”

But the civilian vehicle was successfully put on the assembly line in December 1945. English engineers at the Wolfsburg Volkswagen plant, which was in the British zone of occupation, then produced the first 55 of these simple cars. Just finished it off a little, as they say, with a file.

At the same time, the car received its international English name - the Beetle.

Initially, only the British military stationed in western Germany bought the car. The sale of the Beetle to civilians in Germany and abroad began only after 1949.

The car was popular for its inexpensive price, individuality, funny rounded shapes and ease of repair - journalists joked that even a young schoolgirl could fix the Beetle with her nail file.

The famous little car with a trunk in front became a real symbol of freedom and the hippie era of the 1960s

However, there was something to criticize the Beetle for. For example, for slowness, weak motor, instability in movement.

According to one version, the same group of John Lennon and Paul McCartney called themselves the Beatles, including with an eye on the Volkswagen Beetle, which was extremely common in the early 1960s.

The most popular West German car in the 1960s reached the roads of our good old USSR. Nimble, nimble cars were brought from abroad by the relevant workers. They even somehow wanted to copy the “Beetle” itself and start producing it in our Palestines - under the name “Collective Farmer”.

"Beetle" in the USSR

The Beetle turned out to be one of the most popular cars in the history of the world automotive industry. Serially produced from 1945 to 2003: in Germany and Latin America. Only about 21.5 million of these cars were produced. The last one rolled off the production line in Mexico in 2003.

The car was also produced as a convertible:

In 1998-2010, Volkswagen produced a new version of the car - the New Beetle. Front-wheel drive and with the engine already in front.

Nowadays there are more and more rumors about Volkswagen launching a third car with a body based on the good old Beetle. There were even images of such a machine, including in an electric version. However, the German auto giant still claims that it is categorically not going to return the Beetle to the production line again.

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