Most Wanted Classic Cars: Volkswagen Beetle (Part 1)

Posted by Steve White on May 06, 2011

With more than 21 million units produced, the Volkswagen Beetle is clearly the most manufactured car of a single design platform in the world. It is also the longest running production car, lasting from 1938 to 2003. During its heyday, it was not only one of the most widely seen cars on the road; it was also featured in many movies and television shows. The Volkswagen Beetle’s timeless design and reliable performance have made it one of the greatest classic cars of all time.

A year after he became Chancellor, Adolf Hitler declared that he had the vision of building a “people’s car”, one that could accommodate two adults and three children and run at a speed of 60 mph, with a minimum of 33 mpg. The price of the car was to be about 1,000 Reichmarks, which was just slightly higher that that of a motorcycle. Ferdinand Porsche, who was widely regarded as the best automobile designer at that time, also had the intention of designing a small and affordable car, and he decided to work with Hitler to create the Volkswagen Beetle.

Production of the Volkswagen Beetle began in 1938, but the factory only managed to produce a handful of cars before the beginning of World War II. The car featured a round design, and it was somewhat similar in appearance to a beetle. The Germans called the car “Kafer”, which means “beetle”, and eventually, most people would refer to it by its nickname. The first Beetle had an air-cooled, rear-mounted 985 cc engine that could produce 24 hp, and it could reach a top speed of around 60 mph.

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