It’s one of the most popular cars in automotive history – the Volkswagen Beetle.
Few cars have a history as long-standing, diverse, and perhaps dubious history as the original Volkswagen – the “people’s car”. Of course, you and I know it as the Beetle, a rear-engined, air-cooled car built from 1938 to 2003. The need for a “people’s car” was calculated by Adolf Hitler – hence its dubious distinction as one of the most popular cars in history. He wanted a simple, cheap car to mobilize his people along the newly built German Autobahn road network. It had to carry two adults in the front and three children in the back at 100 km/h while using no more than 7 liters/100km. In other words, it had to be able to cruise at 62 mph and manage roughly 32 mpg all day long with no issues.
At the time, it was a tall order, and one that fell, in part, on the back of Ferdinand Porsche. He was the lead engineer on the project until 1938. What resulted was the first Volkswagen, and one of the most well-sold cars of all time. Over its 65-year run, Volkswagen produced 21,529,464 Beetles – the longest-running, most-produced passenger car in history. The design layout also went on to be the foundation of Porsche’s eponymous 911 range, as well as the prototypes that preceded it. What was the Volkswagen Beetle’s most popular year? 1971, when Volkswagen produced 1.3 million units.
Taking a Super Beetle on the Ike Gauntlet?
Welcome to the Beetle Diaries, a new video series! We’re actually taking TFL’s newly-purchased 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle on every challenge we have. That means it will at least attempt to take on Gold Mine Hill, it will run an MPG loop and the Ike Gauntlet. No small task for a 47-year-old car, especially as the Beetle isn’t the most powerful car imaginable. Nevertheless, throughout the series we’ll see just how well the original design vision for the Volkswagen has been realized.
Stay tuned to TFLcar.com as we document our adventures with “Felix”, our long-term Super Beetle. Watch the video above to find out more about the car, and subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow for more news, views and real-world reviews!