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Volkswagen - The Peoples Car

Volkswagen - The Peoples Car

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Volkswagen - The Peoples Car

Herbie The Love Bug Movie Car

Did you know that the first Volkswagen was a Porsche design? Ferdinand Porsche, who had been chief designer for Daimler-Benz, Auto-Union, and now had his own engineering consultation firm, was put in charge of designing the Volkswagen – “The Peoples Car” by Adolf Hitler.

Hitler wanted a small four seater car, with an air cooled and durable engine that would get 40 miles to the gallon, and could be bought for less than 1000 Marks (about $250.00). Ferdinand Porsche had already been in the design stages of an affordable small car years earlier, but had never been able to bring it into production. Between 1935 and 1937 Porsche built a total of 50 Volkswagen prototypes with the flat four air cooled engine designed by Franz Reimspeiss – a unit very similar to that used throughout the car’s production.

Politically, an affordable car such as the Volkswagen, was a strong platform for Hitler to win the public support that he desperately needed for his military adventures. Hitler wasn’t about to let anything get in his way, and he clamped down on iron and steel allocations to other manufacturers and used Nazi financing for the project. He also took over the private estate of Earl Von Schulenberg at Wolfsburg to build a factory. This became, and still is, the biggest car factory of automobiles in the world.

The Wolfsburg Factory never produced a production Volkswagen because by the time the factory was completed, Hitler had already annexed Austria, and invaded Czechoslavakia and Poland. Consequently, the factory was redirected and taken over by the German air traffic ministry and the total production was converted to meet the war demand.

It was only after the war in 1946 that the Volkswagen finally became the “Peoples Car”. The Wolfsburg plant was located in the British zone of occupation and became a repair depot. The British selected Major Ivan Hirst as responsible for the factory. He wanted to start producing Volkswagens since the war had created a huge demand for a small cheap car. Using the discovered blueprints, they put the Volkswagen into production - but this time it was really for the people and now we, the classic car hobbyists, to use and enjoy.

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