The History of Volkswagen

The legendary Beetle can be considered Volkswagen's first production car. And the history of the brand begins with this legendary car. But the way to its mass production was delayed for many years.

It is necessary to say that till now it is not clear to whom the concept of the Beetle belongs. According to the official version, everything began in 1933, in the Berlin hotel 'Kaiserhof'. The meeting of Porsche was appointed by German Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler and a representative of Daimler-Benz, Jakob Werlin. The purpose of this meeting was the need of the people of Germany for a people's car. Hitler outlined his requirements in detail: the car must be affordable (not more than 1000 reichsmarks), economical (average consumption not more than 8l/100km), five-seater. Also the overall dimensions, power and characteristics of the car were quite clearly indicated.

Porsche already had experience creating rear-engined cars of this type. The first concept was the 'Porsche Typ 12' for the company Zundapp in 1932, and the second was an experimental car for the motorcycle company NSU. In both cases it did not get further than prototypes. And having received Hitler's order, Porsche could not but take advantage of the already existing developments.

But the idea of such a vehicle was not new at that time. According to another version, the progenitor of 'people's car' was Josef Ganz, automobile designer and chief editor of the German car magazine Motor-Kritik. In 1931, he developed 30 prototypes of small cars, among which was the Maikäfer (May Beetle). In 1933, at the International Motor Show in Berlin, the car, called the 'Standard Superior', strongly attracted the Reich Chancellor. But the Jewish origin of the developer, to put it mildly, did not correspond to the canons of the German system. It is likely that many of the solutions of this car and formed the basis of the Porsche Beetle. Not surprisingly, Ganz's design bureau was soon raided and all design documentation was confiscated. The situation in the country at that time was still relatively humane, so Joseph Ganz spent only a few weeks in the Gestapo, but it was enough for his speedy escape abroad.

The very idea of the concept of this car was born much earlier - in the mid 20's. At that time, many magazines published sketches of the 'car of the future', the author of which was an unknown student at the Technical School in Vienna - Bela Bareni. Even back then, his drawings could clearly see the legendary small car: rear-engine layout with air-cooled 'opposition engine', streamlined body, tubular frame. Bareni was advised to patent his drawings, but he saw no need to do so.

At the initiative of Hitler the first VW car got the name KdF-Wagen (from Kraft durch Freude - 'Power through joy'). The car was already ready for production, but because of the outbreak of war the capacity was diverted to the production of the Kübelwagen amphibians, and the launch of the KdF-Wagen was delayed.

After the end of World War II, the Volkswagen factories were taken over by England. The British were not very interested in the Beetle, so at first the cars were sold only on the domestic market. In 1949, the Volkswagen plant was transferred to the Federal Republic of Germany, and was named Volkswagen-Finanzierungs-Gesellschaft GmbH.

In the same year, the first minibus brand - the Bulli (bull), later better known as the Transporter was presented to the public. The idea for this funny van was given to Volkswagen by a Dutch importer back in 1947: Ben Pon, seeing the cargo platform made on the basis of the Beetle, suggested to the general manager Heinrich Nordhof to create a serial minibus on the same units. So, in 1949, at an official press conference, the finished model was shown. The following year the first production T1 came off the assembly line. The truck turned out to be no less successful than its Beetle prototype. Continuously upgraded and modernized, the Bulli existed for about 25 years. With a payload of 890 kg, the minibus proved to be an excellent commercial vehicle.

Volkswagen cars year after year confirmed the title of people's car with their low price and years of proven reliability. That is why the factories of this brand began to actively open abroad. In the 1950s, Volkswagen was sold in more than 150 countries. In 1950, the atelier Karmann was commissioned to create a more prestigious car based on the Beetle (Volkswagen -1200). The design was done by the Italian company Ghia. In June 1955 the Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia was officially presented in Frankfurt. Do not forget to use Volkswagen VIN decoder in order to avoid potential problems when buying a used car.

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