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Tag: volkswagen

May 28, 1937 – VW is founded
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May 28, 1937 – VW is founded

VW Type 1 prototype Volkswagen was officially founded by the German Labor Front under Nazi rule on this day in 1937 at the command of Adolf Hitler. Work on the car had already began in the years prior, as Hitler as stern in his effort to mobilize his countrymen. Hitler aimed to produce an extremely affordable, highly reliable automobile; Volkswagen translates to “people’s car.” The result would ultimately be the Volkswagen Type 1, often referred to as the Bug or Beetle. The Nazis hired Austrian automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche to head the endeavor in 1934. He had previously indicated he had a keen interest in small cars with air-cooled engines, which is what Hitler desired. Following the release of several prototypes, a small quantity of production vehicles began off the assem...
March 13, 1969 – The Love Bug debuts
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March 13, 1969 – The Love Bug debuts

An original Herbie from the movie. By Vmanjr - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 The Love Bug movie made its official debut on this day in 1969. Starring a pearl white 1963 Volkswagen Beetle named Herbie, the movie follows the adventures of Jim Douglas (Dean Jones), a racing driver who can’t catch a break. When Jim finds himself in need of a new car he heads into town and is caught off guard by an attractive mechanic and sales associate, Carole Bennett (Michelle Lee), working inside a European auto showroom.  There he also meets the showroom owner, Peter Thorndyke (David Tomlinson), who is rude to Herbie. After defending the car it winds up in Jim’s driveway the next morning, seemingly without the help of anyone. To prevent Thorndyke from pressing charges against him, Jim agrees to buy it....
March 8, 1950 – VW Type 2 goes on sale
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March 8, 1950 – VW Type 2 goes on sale

Ben Pon may not not a familiar name, but he earns credit for the introduction of the Volkswagen Type 2, first offered for sale this day in 1950. Pon visited Wolfsburg in 1946 intending to import the Beetle to the Netherlands after production restarted following WWII. Realizing a need for a larger vehicle, Pon sketched a small bus that used the same pan as the Beetle. He brought his idea to leadership at Volkswagen, sparking intrigue. VW engineers further developed the idea and the Type 2 was born. Ben Pon sketch of what would become the Type 2. The Type 2 ended up on its own pan, but it would host numerous body styles, including panel vans and trucks. The Type 2, also known as the Transporter, affectionately became known as the VW Bus, Camper and a myriad of other names. The fin...
January 19, 1978 – The last German VW Beetle
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January 19, 1978 – The last German VW Beetle

Cover: 1978 Volkswagen Beetle. By Niels de Wit from Lunteren, The Netherlands - 1978 Volkswagen Beetle, CC BY 2.0. Introduced in Germany during the Nazi regime as the The People's Car, the Volkswagen Type 1, commonly referred to as the Beetle, started rolling off the assembly line in mass quantities following World War II. The small car would eventually become the best selling vehicle of all time to date, surpassing the Model T in total volume in 1972. However, the fun wouldn't last forever. It was on this day in 1978 that the last VW Type 1 rolled off a German assembly line. Production would continue outside of Germany until July 30, 2003 when the very last Type 1, number 21,529,464 in total, rolled out of a production facility in Puebla, Mexico. VW Bug Volkswagen had been foun...
November 29, 1996 – Facing industrial espionage charges from GM, VW executive Jose Ignacio Lopez resigns
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November 29, 1996 – Facing industrial espionage charges from GM, VW executive Jose Ignacio Lopez resigns

VW Jetta Volkswagen purchasing chief executive Jose Ignacio Lopez resigned on this day in 1996 amid charges of corporate espionage against General Motors. According to an November 30, 1996 LA Times article, "GM contends that Lopez and three of the seven GM executives he lured away to Volkswagen with him systematically stole boxes full of factory plans, component price lists, detailed new-car plans and other valuable documents and gave them to their new employer." The following article originally appeared in the New York Times on Jan 10, 1997. VW AGREES TO PAY G.M. $100 MILLION IN ESPIONAGE SUIT Bringing to an end a four-year feud between two of the world's largest companies, Volkswagen A.G. agreed to pay $100 million to the General Motors Corporation to settle accusations that ...
September 6, 1949 – VW is returned to German control
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September 6, 1949 – VW is returned to German control

On August 22, 1945, the British ordered Volkswagen to produce 20,000 cars for the British military administration. Here you see the very first limousines built after the war, sitting high on a bucket car chassis After being taken over by British forces following the end of World War II in Europe, Volkswagen was handed back to the Federal Republic of Germany on this day in 1949. Volkswagen was a project started by Adolf Hitler to put Germany on wheels. His plan was to manufacture an affordable and economical “People’s Car” that could be attained by all. In 1934 Ferdinand Porsche, who recently started an automotive consulting firm, was hired by the Nazis to design the vehicle. The result became one of the best selling cars of all time. Following WWII the allies were determined to put...
July 14, 1955 – VW Karmann Ghia debuts
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July 14, 1955 – VW Karmann Ghia debuts

Volkswagen publicly introduced the production version of its new Karmann Ghia on this day in 1955 at the Kasino Hotel in Westphalia, Germany. The KG hit the market as a 2+2 sports car coupe, or after 1957, available as a convertible. It combined the mechanicals and chassis of the Volkswagen Type 1 Beetle with styling by Italy's Carrozzeria Ghia and hand-built bodywork by German coachbuilding house Karmann. Above & Top: Images from the Kasino Hotel Karmann Ghia introduction The Type 14 prototype, the KG's internal label, originally debuted at the 1953 Paris Auto Show as a styling experiment. It garnered enough attention that executives moved it toward production. When the final design, as a 2+2, debuted at the Kasino Hotel, it received a grand welcoming. (Just look at these ...
May 24, 2002 – VW Golf R32 debuts
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May 24, 2002 – VW Golf R32 debuts

Volkswagen launched the Golf R32 in Europe on this day in 2002 as a 2003 model. The performance variant become hugely popular, leading VW to launch the car in the Australian and US markets as the 2004 Volkswagen R32. Each R32 featured every performance, safety, and luxury option Volkswagen offered. Under the hood one would find an all new 3,189 cc (3.2 L; 194.6 cu in) DOHC 4 valves per cylinder VR6 engine, which made 238 bhp at 6,250 rpm. The R32 also had a Haldex Traction-based 4motion on-demand four-wheel drive system and a new six-speed manual transmission. Other upgrades included independent rear suspension, Climatronic automatic climate control, sport seats from König with R32 badging, 18" OZ Aristo alloy wheels 13.1 in disc brakes with gloss blue painted calipers, sunroof (fo...
April 6, 1904 – VW Beetle & Porsche 356 designer Erwin Komenda is born
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April 6, 1904 – VW Beetle & Porsche 356 designer Erwin Komenda is born

Sure, Ferdinand Porsche often gets the credit for the Volkswagen Type 1, but let's not forget he had a huge team working for him during its development. Among his employees was Erwin Komenda, who first met Porsche while employed as a designer at Steyr in the late 1920s. When Porsche left Steyr and began his own automotive engineering and consultuation firm, Komenda followed him. He became the head of the the bodywork design department, a position he would hold until his death in 1966. Above: Erwin Komenda was a lead designer for the 1936 Porsche Type 60 prototype for the German "Volkswagen". By Ralf Roletschek -GFDL 1.2. Top: Erwin Komenda, left, with Ferry Porsche and Ferdinand Porsche and the first Porsche 356. Early in his career with Porsche, he designed the body of what wou...
February 17, 1972 – VW Beetle outsells Ford Model T
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February 17, 1972 – VW Beetle outsells Ford Model T

Introduced in 1908, the Ford Model T would set the record for the highest produced automotive model by the time production ended in 1927. Some 15,007,033 left the factory over those years. It'd be 45 years before another car matched, and then surpassed, that number. On this day in 1972 Volkswagen beat that record when the 15,007,034th Type 1 Beetle left the factory. Developed in Nazi Germany by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche and his team in the 1930s, the Beetle would go into full scale production following WWII. Dismal US sales in the early 1950s led to a massive marketing campaign launched in 1959 by advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach. The series of ads took playful jabs at VW while promoting the advantages owning a small car. The Bug, as it is informally known, underwent very littl...

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