Year of Volkswagen Kaefer
Volkswagen Kaefer photos, specs - Car Pictures & Images
This article is about the original Volkswagen Beetle. For the automobile introduced in 1997, see Volkswagen New Beetle.
The Volkswagen Type 1 is an economy car produced by the German auto maker Volkswagen (VW) from 1938 until 2003. The car was originally known as Käfer, the German word for "beetle," from which the popular English nickname originates. It was not until August 1967 that the Volkswagen corporation itself began using the name Beetle in marketing materials in the US.
In Britain, VW never used the name Beetle officially. It had only been known as either the "Type I" or as the 1100, 1200, 1300, 1500, or 1600 which had been the names under which the vehicle was marketed in Europe; the numbers denoted the vehicle's approximate engine size in cubic centimetres. In 1998, many years after the original model had been dropped from the lineup in most of the world (production continued in Mexico until 2003), VW introduced the "New Beetle" (built on a Volkswagen Golf Mk4 platform) which bore a cosmetic resemblance to the original.
In its day it was more comfortable and powerful than most European small cars, and ultimately became the longest-running and most-produced automobile of a single design (a record that will not take long to be beaten by its younger "cousin" the Type-2 Bus or Kombi, which is still in production in Brazil, with the same basic characteristics of the first series). It remained a top seller in the US, even as rear-wheel drive conventional subcompacts were refined, and eventually replaced by front-wheel drive models. The Beetle car was the benchmark for both generations of American compact cars such as the Chevrolet Corvair, and subcompact cars such as the Ford Pinto and Chevrolet Vega. In the international poll for the award of the world's most influential car of the twentieth century the Beetle came fourth after the Ford Model T, the Mini, and the Citroën DS.
"The People's Car"
Starting in 1931, Ferdinand Porsche and Zündapp developed the "Auto für Jedermann" (car for everyman). This was the first time the name "Volkswagen" was used. Porsche already preferred the flat-4 cylinder engine, but Zündapp used a watercooled 5-cylinder radial engine. In 1932, three prototypes were running. All of those cars were lost during the war, the last in a bombing raid over Stuttgart in 1945.
In 1933, Adolf Hitler gave the order to Ferdinand Porsche to develop a "Volks-Wagen" (the name means "people's car" in German, in which it is pronounced [ˈfolksvagən]), a basic vehicle that should be capable of transporting two adults and three children at a speed of 100km/ h (62mph). The People's Car would be made available to citizens of the Third Reich through a savings scheme at 990 Reichsmark, about the price of a small motorcycle at the time (an average income being around 32RM/ week).
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