The Third Reich Edit
The Beetle is the first produced after World War II by Volkswagen. But its History started before the war, when in 1933 Hitler met with Ferdinand Porsche to work on the idea of a "People's Car" (or "Volkswagen" in German). The basic idea was to provide a car for a family of two adults and there three children at 100 Km/H across Germany. The car car should cost 990 RM (Reichmark maximum) and would be purchased through a government bases savings scheme. 336 000 people payed but it was only after the war that most of those people were able to receive their cars. For 5 RM a week you would be able to get a car. This was a very new idea for people who did not have the money to buy a car in the 1930's.
The idea of such a car had come to Ferdinand Porsche several years before the Third Reich was put in place by the Nazis. But the regime made it financially possible. In 1931, Porsche had designed a car similar to the final design. Hilter had him change part of this design to make it more accessible to the German working class. Tratra's T97 was already using a 4 Cylinder engine mounted in the back of the car. Other parts of the T97's design where also used. Legal actions were started by Tratra as early as 1938, but it was only in 1961 that Volkswagen was ordered to pay DM 3 000 000 in damages.
Several prototypes were offered starting in 1935 through the new Kdf-Wagen company. The first cars were made in the Daimler-Benz factory but the production of civilian cars was stopped in 1939 with the war.
The factory was by now located in Wolfsburg, Germany. The Beetle base was used for the Kubelwagen (the "bucket car" or "Typ 82") used in the German Army and SS during World War II along with the Schwimmwagen ("Typ 166"). The Kubelwagen survived the war as the Type 181 known as the "Thing" (United States) or "Safari" (Europe). These cars were used everywhere the German troops were: from the cold northern parts of Europe to the hot deserts of Africa with the Afrika Korps. The engine proved to be perfect for all climates with the air-cooled technology and was very easy to fix. The Kubelwagen was the equivalent of the American Jeep: a car that can go anywhere with out any problem and carry all the load you need to fight a war.
The factory was bombed by the Allied Airplanes. But most of the machines were saved and production was able to start again after the war using those same machines. The factory fell in the western side of Germany and was offered to Ford. Ford refused it because it was not worth anything.
The Reconstruction of Germany and Volkswagen Edit
Soon after the war, some Type 1s were assembled with the parts available in 1944. Those vehicles were used mainly by the British troops and other allied troops stationed in Germany at the time. The car as finaly saved by the fact that cars were needed in this country where everything needed to be rebuild.
The 1950s Edit
By 1954, one million Beetles were produced and a large part of the production was exported first to the other European countries (Netherlands, France, etc.) and made it on the American market. The car had then had a 34hp engine allowing for a top speed of 115km/h (or 72 mph), more then enough for the rounds at the time! The car was easy to fix and made 7.6 L/ 100 km (about 31 mpg), perfect to save gas after the war.
The 1960s Edit
In 1969, the first "The Love Bug", featuring Herbie was released by the Walt Disney studios. This film was a big sucess and many more films fallowed soon after.
The 1970s Edit
On February 17, 1972, Beetle # 15,007,034 came out of the factory in Germany, busting the previous record of the Ford Model T.
In 1973, over 16 million Beetles had been producted and sold worldwide.
In 1974, the second Love Bug movie was releases: Herbie Rides Again and in 1977, the third movie came out Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo.
By the mid-1970s, the sales of Beetles in the United-States and in Europe had gone down. This was in part due to more imports of Japanese cars in the USA and the fact that the Beetle was now an aging design for the time.
In 1974, the Wolfsburg factury stoped producing Beetles to switch to the first Golf. This car was the replacement of the Beetle with a water-cooled front end engine. The Beetle was still producted in other German facturies until 1978 when the production was moved to Mexico and Brazil. The production continued until 2003 when the last batch of Beetles came out of the factury.
In 1978, the last Beetle (with the solid roof) was sold in the United States. The sales continued until 1980 with the convertable Super Beetle until 1980 in the United States.
the 1980s Edit
The final episode of the Herbie movies came out in 1980: Herbie Goes Bananas. Two years later, The Love Bug TV series come out in the United States.
The last Beetle was sold in Europe in 1985 but production and sales continued in other pasts of the world, where the easy air-cooled engine was perfect for the weather and local mechanical fixes. The developing countries were the new market for this car. Beetles were sold in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Most cars were made in Brazil and assembled in Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria and Australia under license of Volkswagen.
the 1990s Edit
The number of Beetles sold worldwise had raised to 21 million by June 23, 1992.
The End of a Long Story Edit
The last Beetle came out of production in Puebla, Mexico on July 30, 2003. The car was number 21 529 464 and was sent to the Volkswagen museum in Wolfsburg, Germany. The Beetle had been produced for 58 years.
The last air-cooled engine was made in 2006, when the last Kombi (the VW Bus) came out of the factury in Brazil.
The Little Sister Edit
In 1998, the "New Beetle" was released worldwide. The connection with the original Beetle is only distant, as the New Beetle is powered by a water-cooled engine located in the front. But the name help the car sell among the millions of people who had lived with an original Beetle in there family.