Volkswagen Beetle

Volkswagen Beetle

The Volkswagen Beetle is a 2 door, four passenger car that was manufactured between 1938 and 2003, and has become an iconic piece of automobile history. Officially called the Volkswagen Type 1, commonly known in Germany as the Käfer (translated as “beetle” in english) was designed by Ferdinand Porsche between 1934 and 1938, but not mass produced until 1945. It is the longest running and most manufactured car of a single platform ever made.

Original specifications derived from a meeting in 1934 stated that Germany required a basic vehicle that could transport two adults and three children at 100 km/h while not exceeding seven litres of fuel for every 100 km travelled. Economy played a huge role in the Beetle's design which ensured that engine pieces and auto parts could be quickly and inexpensively changed. It was also stated that the engine had to be powerful enough for easy sustained cruising upon the new Autobahn systems in Germany. It was also designed to be as mechanically simple as possible, with an air cooled engine to reduce trips to the mechanic and compact torsion bars acting as suspension.

It was awarded fourth place in 1999 in a Car of the Century competition, the goal of which was to determine the most influential motor of the 20th Century.

The original design had 25 horsepower and could reach top speeds of roughly 100 km/h, however as speed limits were increased after the war, the demand for a higher output meant the horsepower was boosted to 36, and thereafter to 40. It was the most influential rear wheel drive car with a rear engine that began a trend of similar motors to be produced by Fiat and Renault, increasing production of this configuration from 2.6% in continental Europe in 1946 to 26.6% in 1956.

in 1998 Volkswagen released a newer version of the beetle which remained in production until 2010 before being replaced in 2011 by the Beetle A5. The Beetle undertook many revisions and updates between 1938 and 2003 when production of the classic style ceased in Mexico. Updates included a convertible version in 1948, the adding of hydraulic brakes and the option of a folding sunroof in 1950, window enlargements in 1965 and higher mounted C section bumpers in 1968.

The Beetle has also been modified for drag racing due to the weight distribution in the car allowing for maximum grip off the starting line. Because of the RR layout, wheelies are possible and wheelie bars have been added to models modified for drag racing.

The Beetle has also been entered into rallies in European contests in the 60s and 70, most notably between 1971 and 1973 when Volkswagen had their peak racing performance with the VW 1302S and 1303S, known as the Salzburg Rally Beetle and achieved some victories in 1973 on Elba for overall and class, Acropolis for class, and the Austrian championship in 1972.

The Beetle is a very influential vehicle which is recognized world wide and revolutionized the way that we drive in automotive history. It will not be easily forgotten with time.