Volkswagen was founded by the German Labor Front under Nazi rule on this day in 1937 at the command of Adolf Hitler. In an 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.
Austrian automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche was hired to head the endeavor in 1934 after he showed a keen interest in small cars with air-cooled engines, which is what Hitler desired. Prototypes began to appear in 1938 and a small handful of production vehicles were manufactured before WWII broke out the next year. The Volkswagen Type 1 would begin mass production following the end of the war, with its factories being an integral building block in post war Germany.
The Beetle would eventually surpass the Model T as the most produced car ever, all while remaining relatively unchanged until the final one rolled off the assembly line in 2003. Though it no longer holds the title of most produced, newer vehicles that have certainly did not maintain the same body style and engineering for multiple decades.