Prototype W30 1937
Volkswagen Beetle, VW Type 1, which was called the Beetle or
Bug or Käfer (in German), is a small family car, the best known car
Volkswagen, one of the best known cars from Germany, and one of the most
recognisable and distinctive cars in the world. Thanks to its distinctive shape
and sound, and its reliability, it now enjoys a "cult" status.
The Beetle was
in production from 1938 until 2003, interrupted only by the Second World War.
Over 21 million Beetles were produced.
Comment "I had a 1977 Kango Beach buggy in yellow. Drove is mostly on the beach at Durban when fishing, then one Saturday morning I drove 1100 km to Cape Town, fished for three hours, didn't catch anything - then drove the 1100 km back again, Not a car on the planet could do that."
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The "Beetle" name was not originally given to the car. Inside Volkswagen, it
was simply known as the "Type 1" until the 1968 model year (August 1967), when,
for the first time, German brochures used the name "Der Käfer" (meaning "The
Beetle" in German) on the front cover and inside. The Beetle name was later
reused when the New Beetle was introduced in 1998.
The origins of the car date back to 1930s Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler wanted
private motorized transport to be widely available and commissioned engineer
Ferdinand Porsche to produce such a vehicle. Some claim that this was based on a
sketch that Hitler drew in 1932, a year before he came to power. Hitler decreed
that this car should be capable of transporting two adults and three children at
a speed of 100 km/h (62 mph), and that it should cost no more than a motorcycle
and sidecar to buy. A savings scheme was also launched that would enable the
common people to buy the car. However, the advent and aftermath of World War II
meant that those who paid into the scheme never received their cars. Rumours said
that the Beetle was originally designed for conversion into a makeshift armoured
car in times of war. Its style resembles a tankette without a turret or armour.
Who designed the car is a matter of controversy. The official story is that
it was designed by Ferdinand Porsche. But in the 1920s Joseph Ganz had already
made a similar design for a car that was smaller and more affordable than
existing models. Car manufacturers were not interested, but two motorcycle
manufacturers were. Adler produced the Maikäfer and Standard the
Superior, which it advertised as 'Der Deutsche Volkswagen' and was the
cheapest four wheel car at the time. When the Nazis came to power, they tested
the Superior and favorable reviews appeared in magazines. However, shortly
after, the Nazis suddenly imprisoned Ganz for a while, fired him as chief editor
of the magazine Motor-Kritik and confiscated his documents, after which he fled
to Switzerland, never to return. The reason for this is probably that they found
out he was a Jew. The Nazis then turned to Porsche, who produced a prototype of
the Käfer that looked a lot like the Superior. Volkswagen says that Ganz
wasn't the only one to have such a design and that the Käfer was not based on
Prototypes of the car called the KdF-Wagen (German: Kraft durch
Freude = strength through joy; the car was so called because it was intended
to be sold to members of the KdF, a Nazi leisure organization), appeared from
1935 onwards—the first prototypes were produced by Daimler-Benz in Stuttgart,
Germany. The car already had its distinctive round shape (designed by Erwin
Komenda) and its air-cooled, flat-four, rear-mounted engine. However, the
factory (in the new town of Kdf-Stadt, purpose-built for the factory workers)
had only produced a handful of cars by the time war started in 1939.
Consequently, the first volume-produced versions of the car's chassis (if not
body) were military vehicles, the Jeep-like Kübelwagen Typ 82 (approx.
52,000 built) and the amphibious Schwimmwagen Typ 166 (approx. 14,000
Deliberately designed to be as simple as possible mechanically, there was
simply less that could go wrong; the air-cooled 985 cm³ 25 hp (19 kW) motors
proved especially effective in action in North Africa's desert heat. The
innovative suspension design used compact torsion beams instead of coil or leaf
A handful of civilian-specific Beetles were produced, primarily for the Nazi
elite, in the years 1940–1945, but production figures were small. In response to
gasoline shortages, a few wartime "Holzbrenner" Beetles were fueled by wood
pyrolysis gas producers under the hood. In addition to the Kübelwagen,
Schwimmwagen, and a handful of others, the factory managed another wartime
vehicle: the Kommandeurwagen; a Beetle body mounted on the 4WD Kübelwagen
chassis. A total of 669 Kommandeurwagens were produced until 1945, when all
production was halted due to heavy damage sustained in Allied air raids on the
factory. Much of the essential equipment had already been moved to underground
bunkers for protection, allowing production to resume quickly once hostilities
Much of the Beetle's design was inspired by the advanced Tatra cars of Hans
Ledwinka, particularly the T97. This also had a streamlined body and a
rear-mounted 4 cylinder horizontally-opposed air-cooled engine. Tatra sued, but
the lawsuit was stopped when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. The matter was
re-opened after WW2 and in 1961 Volkswagen paid Tatra 3,000,000 Deutsche Marks.
These damages meant that Volkswagen had little money for the development of new
models and the Beetle's production life was necessarily extended.
The Volkswagen company owes its postwar existence largely to one man,
Oldham-born British army officer Major Ivan Hirst (1916–2000). After the war,
Hirst was ordered to take control of the heavily bombed factory, which the
Americans had captured. His first task was to remove the unexploded bomb which
had fallen through the roof and lodged itself between some pieces of
irreplaceable production equipment; if the bomb had exploded, the Beetle's fate
would have been sealed. He persuaded the British military to order 20,000 of the
cars, and by 1946 the factory was producing 1,000 cars a month. The car and its
town changed their Nazi-era names to Volkswagen (people's car) and
Wolfsburg, respectively. The first 1,785 Beetles were made in a factory near
Wolfsburg, Germany in 1945.
Production of the "Type 1" Volkswagen Beetle increased dramatically over the
years, with the 1 millionth car coming off the assembly line in 1954. During the
1960s and early 1970s, innovative advertising campaigns and a glowing reputation
for reliability and sturdiness helped production figures to surpass the levels
of the previous record holder, the Ford Model T, when Beetle No. 15,007,034 was
produced on February 17, 1972. By 1973 total production was over 16 million, and
by 2002 there had been over 21 million produced. The car was known under various
names in different countries, usually local renderings of the word "beetle":
Käfer in Germany; Sedan, then Fusca in Brazil; Coccinelle
in France; Maggiolino in Italy; Sedán or Vocho in Mexico;
Kever in the Netherlands; kotseng kuba (literally, 'hunchback
car') in the Philippines; Garbus (literally, 'Hunchback') in Poland;
Brouk in Czech Republic; Carocha in Portugal; Escarabajo in
Spain; Hipushit in Israel; Bug in the United States.
While production of the standard Beetle continued, a Type 1 variant called
the Super Beetle, produced from model year 1971 to 1979, offered
MacPherson strut front suspension, better turning radius, and more space in the
front luggage compartment. The Super Beetle was improved in 1973 to
include a padded dashboard and a curved windshield.
Faced with stiff competition from more modern designs—in particular
economical Japanese autos in the US—sales began dropping off in the mid-1970s.
There had been several unsuccessful attempts to replace the Beetle throughout
the 1960s; but the Type 3, Type 4, and the NSU-based K70 were all failures.
Finally, production lines at Wolfsburg switched to the new watercooled, front-engined,
front wheel drive Golf in 1974, a car unlike its predecessor in most significant
Beetle production continued in smaller numbers at other German factories
until 1978, but mainstream production shifted to Brazil and Mexico. The last
Beetle was produced in Puebla, Mexico, in mid-2003. The final batch of 3,000
Beetles were sold as 2004 models and badged as the Última Edición, with
whitewall tires, a host of previously-discontinued chrome trim, and the choice
of two special paint colors taken from the New Beetle. Production in Brazil
ended in 1988, then restarted in 1993 and continued until 1996. Volkswagen sold
Beetles in the United States until 1978 and in Europe until 1985.
Beetles produced in Mexico and Brazil had several differences:
Beetles produced in Mexico (since 1964) have the larger door and quarter
glass between 1971 - 2003 with the 1958 vintage back glass until the mid-1970s.
This version, after the mid-1970s, saw little change with the incorporation of
electronic fuel injection, electronic ignition, hydraulic valve lifters and an
oil filter after 1993, along with a driver-side air bag.
Independent importers continued to supply several major countries, including
Germany, France, and the UK until the end of production in 2003. Devoted fans of
the car even discovered a way to circumvent United States safety regulations by
placing more recently manufactured Mexican Beetles on the floor pans of earlier,
US-registered cars between 1998 - 2003. The Mexican Beetle (along with its
Brazilian counterpart) was on the US DOT's (Department of Transportation) hot
list of gray market imports after 1978 since the vehicle did not meet safety
regulations. A US citizen who drives a Mexican Beetle across the US-Mexico
border into the US is likely to end up with the vehicle seized by the US
In the Southwest United States (Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas) -
Mexican Beetles (and some Brazilian T2c Transporters) are a common sighting in
San Antonio and Houston since Mexican nationals can legally operate the vehicle
in the United States, as long as they have the registration papers.
The end of production in Mexico can be blamed primarily on the Mexican
government's decision to gradually outlaw the use of two-door cars as taxi cabs.
Also, the Beetles no longer met air quality requirements for Mexico City, in
which the ubiquitous Beetles were used as an affordable taxicabs. Another reason
the Mexican government has outlawed two-door taxicabs is because of the crime
rate: taxi assaults had risen in recent years. The issue of public safety forced
the Mexican government to require four-door vehicles to be used as taxicabs. In
addition, Volkswagen (now Germany's largest automaker) has been attempting to
cultivate a more upscale, premium brand image, and the humble Beetle, with its
US$7000 base price, clashed with VW's new identity, as seen in the Touareg and
Phaeton luxury vehicles.
This image is
copyright holder allows anyone to use it for any purpose.
Flower Covered Beetle in the greenhouse of Jardin botanique de
Like its competitors the Mini and the Citroën 2CV, the Beetle has been
regarded as something of a "cult" car since its 1960s association with the
hippie movement; and the obvious attributes of its unique and quirky design.
Much like their Type 2 counterparts, Beetles were psychedelically painted and
considered an art car ancestor. One of the logos used by the Houston Art Car
Klub incorporated a Beetle with a cowboy hat.
From 1968 to 2005, a pearl white Beetle with racing number "53" and red,
white, and blue stripes named "Herbie" played a starring role in The Love Bug
series of Disney comedy films. A yellow Wunderkäfer, called DuDu,
appeared in a series of German films for children. Also made famous is the
Autobot Bumblebee (Gold Bug) in the cartoon The Transformers.
The sci-fi thriller The Arrival featured a few Mexican Beetles in the film -
one scene in the film is where Charlie Sheen hides in the trunk.
At the 1994 North American International Auto Show, Volkswagen unveiled the J
Mays-penned "Concept 1", a concept car with futuristic styling deliberately
reminiscent of the original Beetle's rounded shape. Strong public reaction
convinced the company to move the car into production, and in 1998, 20 years
after the original Beetle was sold in the United States, Volkswagen launched the
New Beetle, designed by Mays and Freeman Thomas at the company's California
New Beetles are manufactured at VW's Puebla, Mexico assembly plant.
The New Beetle is related to the original only in name and appearance: under
the hood, it is a modern car in every way, based on the Volkswagen A platform.
In stark contrast to the original, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
gave the New Beetle among the best safety ratings in its class at the time of
Marketing campaigns have enhanced the continued goodwill towards the
original, and helped the new model to inherit it. The Volkswagen New Beetle was
Motor Trend's Import Car of the Year for 1999.
Phase-out of the original Beetle
In 2002 total production of the VW Golf, at 22 million units, overtook that
of the Beetle. However this measure includes all four distinct generations of
Golf since 1974, and these are really different cars using the same name, as is
also the case with the Toyota Corolla.
By 2003 Beetle annual production had fallen to 30,000 from a peak of 1.3
million in 1971. On July 30, 2003, the final original VW Beetle (No. 21,529,464)
was produced at Puebla, Mexico, some 65 years after its public launch in Nazi
Germany, and an unprecedented 58-year production run since 1945. VW announced
this step in June, citing decreasing demand. The last car was immediately
shipped off to the company's museum in Wolfsburg, Germany. In true Mexican
fashion, a mariachi band serenaded the last car.
also see list of international names & nicknames for the Type 1
(of which 15,444,858 in Germany, incl. 330,251 Cabriolets,
and ≈ 3.350.000 in Brazil)
||São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil
Puebla, Puebla, Mexico
Uitenhage, South Africa
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, SFR Yugoslavia
Auckland, New Zealand
Volkswagen Jetta (Sedan)
Volkswagen New Beetle
||1.1 L H4
1.2 L H4
1.3 L H4
1.5 L H4
1.6 L H4
||4-speed manual transaxle,
3-speed clutchless manual ("Autostick")
The final edition had the following specifications:
Length: 4 m (13.32 ft)
Width: 1.6 m (5.08 ft)
Height: 1.5 m (4.92 ft)
Length between axles: 2.4 m (7.87 ft)
Weight: 810 kg (1,786 lb)
Engine: 4 cylinders, 1.6 L
Brakes: front disc, back drum
Tank: 40 L (10.57 gallons)
Colours: Aquarius blue, Harvestmoon beige.
More Pictures of the Volkswagen Beetle
"1968 Volkswagen Beetle Baja"
"1969 VW Beetle with a turbo 2296cc engine. "
"The New South Wales Police service now have some of the new V.W. Beetles as station vehicles. This one was photographed at Bondi Junction, Police station in Sydney's east.
Millionth VW Beetle >>>>>
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I had a 1977 Kango Beach buggy in yellow. Drove is mostly on the
beach at Durban when fishing, then one Saturday morning I drove 1100 km to Cape
Town, fished for three hours, didn't catch anything - then drove the 1100 km
back again, Not a car on the planet could do that.
The most beautiful, lovable, adorable, sweet car
I have a stone stock 1968 Beetle that will soon be a daily
driver. I picked it up for a song and am in the process of giving it some love.
These cars are so easy to work on, parts are cheap and they are just plain fun
great bugs are here to live and forever in our hearts
I'm looking for a 1970s-80s beetle to convert to a beach buggy, is there a kit I
can purchase please advise, thanks Andy
those are cool i wish i had one
The green beetle is what I want.
I WANT A BEETLE WHEN I CAN DRIVE THEY ROCK
Volkswagen Beetle Yellow is the most beautiful car.
I have a very nice car beetles model 1974 and it is strange for
any car in Egypt for its colour. It is double colour( black and silver) but I
want to say that I never feel that I am driving a classic car but that I drive a
car from model 2000 because it has great options and luxury. No one can imagine
all of that in a car model 1974 and thanks for whom fabricate and manage to
fabricate this car. My opinion that the model of Beetles is the best classic car
that many or all people can obtain it in the world. You can't imagine that many
people in Egypt obtain Beetles model 1975 or 1980 or 1959 or 1966 and obtain
modern cars like BMW model 2002 and Octavia model 2007 but the preferred car for
them that they like to drive is the Beetle and no one wants to sell them thanks
to the Volkswagen Company and for the German mind who find this lovely legend
model of cars like this. I would like to send for you my cars photos at
the nearest chance.
buggies are the most coolest cars out now but they look like baby cars
i like the new
edition of the beetle so much but then i can't afford it because its to
expensive. here it cause like 1.8 million pesos. That means rich people can only
afford it though i really like/love it. and of course i want to have one.
(Very Approx UK£18K or US$36K)
Dear Sirs, please let me correct the title of the first
VW-photo "An early KdF-Wagen", because in fact it shows the prototype "W 30"
from 1937 (no rear window!). Only since the first VWs were shown to
Hitler in 1938 there was used the name "KdF-Wagen". Michael H Minden
i love punch buggies
punch buggies are awesome and cute.
YOU have WEIRD pictures, cool dud
I own a 1970's turbo charged Beetle, awesome car to drive
handles beautifully. Its got a 150hp engine so we call it the punch buggy,
topped out at 215kph