Volkswagen Beetle History
The Volkswagen Beetle is quite possibly the single most iconic vehicle of all time. Production of its original styling ran for 65 years, which made the Beetle the world’s longest-running and most-manufactured car of a single design platform, resulting in the production of 21,529,464 Volkswagen Beetle Type 1s, but the Beetle has been redesigned and is still being sold today.
The original VW Beetle was commissioned by the German Government (see fun facts below) and designed by Ferdinand Porsche – yeah, that Porsche – in 1938. The VW Beetle would only be able to be produced in significant numbers following WWII, and in 1945 it was designated the “Volkswagen Type 1,” but because it was the first-ever to wear the badge, many just referred to it as the “Volkswagen.”
It wouldn’t be until the 1950s when the Beetle would make its way across the ocean and into American showrooms, and the Beetle exploded in popularity in the 1960s as a symbol of American counter-culture.
The Beetle’s initial U.S. run would be relatively brief, ending in the late 1970s, but a redesigned Beetle would arrive in 1998 with more rounded edges, which would reignite America’s love affair with the storied nameplate.
Volkswagen has redesigned the Beetle for a newer generation, but no one will mistake it for any other vehicle on the road. The new Beetles are much sleeker and more aggressively-styled. VW has also added several performance-inspired trims to the lineup including the R-Line, GSR, and even a music-themed Fender edition. The German automaker also offers a lineup of Beetle convertibles.
VW Beetle Fun Fact
The name Volkswagen literally translates to “people’s car” in German, and the concept of the Beetle was to be an affordable vehicle that all of Germany’s citizens could drive. Ferdinand Porsche was given the order to design the Beetle in April of 1934 from Adolf Hitler – yeah, that Hitler. The vehicle was to be made exactly to Hitler’s specification and was to cost as much as small motorcycle thanks to Third Reich saving scheme.
During WWII, only a handful of the Beetles were created for the Nazi elite, and despite the fall of the Third Reich in WWII and the VW factory initially being broken down and shipped to Britain, no British manufacturers were interested in the VW Beetle, so Germany was ultimately able to retain the brand.