Vintage Beetle

VW Beetle circa mid 50s

The much-loved Volkswagen Beetle was first conceived as an economizing measure, for an affordable 'people's car' in Germany on the eve of WW2, in 1938. With over 2 million produced since, the Beetle has the great distinction of being the most enduring car design in the world and also the most manufactured of any single design type. So why has this little rear-engined, rear-wheel drive car been so successful?

1949 Beetle Convertable.
The Beetle was designed by Ferdinand Porsche and backed by Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and although WW2 interrupted Beetle production in favour of military-use vehicles, post-war production was resumed under British control and in the first year, sold in the thousands. As pre-war investment in the Beetle had been generous, under the watchful eye of high-standard German industry, much thought and development went into its design and function.

It's interesting to note however, that some of its exterior design features of the Beetle echo the earlier, Czech made Tatra T97 and in fact, Tatra did attempt to sue Ferdinand Porsche early on in the piece. Porsche evidently was willing to settle, after having admitted to "looking over the Tatra designs', but Hitler declared he would "settle the matter" and indeed he did, for when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia,  production of the Tatra ceased immediately and the lawsuit became a moot point.

Tatra T97 Circa 1936, '37
Beetles were designed to be reliable and economical, both to buy and to run- salient features that set them apart from the pack. The curvy car was also aesthetically appealing, with a bubble-like, rounded charm and 'personality'. Despite some earlier skepticism from American Auto-manufacturer's, by the 1950s the Beetle had become a top-selling car in the US and was stronger and faster than many comparable European small cars on the market at the time.

1969 Beetle
So successful was the Beetle, it became the iconic symbol of Volkswagen and the core model of its line-up. Production of the Beetle continued right up to 2000's, when, after-sales had been slumping due to the growth and popularity of Japanese-made small cars, the last factory was closed. Over the decades, though there were changes made to the engine, as well the exterior appearance (removal of the rear window bar, less elongated front etc),the Beetle always retained it's distinctive, instantly recognizable look. The old Beetle is still a relatively common sight on the roads and of course, they are loved by their collectors.

Thai Beetle
1972 Beetle

The versatile Beetle converted to a pick-up truck.
1968 Beetle Volksrod