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September 6, 1949 – VW is put back in German control

After being turned over to British control following World War II Volkswagen is handed back to the German people on this day in 1949. Volkswagen, as it is well know, was a project started by Hitler to put Germany on wheels by producing an affordable and economical “People’s Car.” In 1934 Ferdinand Porsche, who just a few years earlier started and automotive consulting firm, was hired by Hitler to design the vehicle. The result became one of the best selling cars of all time. Following WWII the allies worked to put German people back to work to help them rebuild their country that had been destroyed by war. A big part of this was getting manufacturing facilities, such as VW at Wolfsburg, back up and running. The plant, which had been almost completely dismantled during the war, was back up and running a few months after the Germans surrendered and they were able to produce 1,785 Type 1s in 1945, nearly all of which went to occupying forces. On January 17, 1949, the first VW landed in the United States aboard the Holland America Line Westerdam when it pulled into New York Harbor. Ben Pon, a racecar driver from the Netherlands, brought the vehicle over, hoping to enjoy the same success he experienced in Rotterdam selling the car. He sold two cars that year. The next year Max Hoffman of Park Avenue showroom fame was able to sell 157 of the vehicles. Between 1949 and 1977 21,529,464 Beetles rolled out of dealer showrooms around the world. Photo: Ben Pon (left) with the first Type 1 (Beetle) imported to the United States.

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