Ferdinand Porsche and the Beetle
On the 22nd of June 1934 the Reichvserband der Automobilindustrie (National Association of the Automobile Industry) commissioned the design office of Ferdinand Porsche to develop a Volkswagen prototype. The first cars were assembled in the garage of his Feuerbach villa.
The first prototype was roadworthy in the autumn of the following year; a short time later Porsches team drove the car 200 kilometers from Stuttgart to Berchtesgaden and Obersalzberg to present Hitler with the car. During the war the Volkswagen plant at Fallersleben built amphibian vehicles and jeeps for the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces). The economic foundation for the incredible success of Ferdinand Porsche’s “Beetle”, producing more than 21 million units, was finally laid with a large order from the British military government.
How it all started…..
There are automobiles that are destined to be classics. Because of their design, their racing success, because their engineering was before their time or because famous drivers in real life or even just in the movies took the car to the highest realms. The majority of those vintage cars rank among that archetypal group of “classics”. Only very rarely does history play a trick or swim against the current and lets an automobile already mature during its construction, become more attractive, win over people until it is no longer possible to imagine life without it. Simply because it is a part of automotive history. Or better yet, co-wrote it. Because it is the foundation for the success of a company that unites many strong brands and determines future mobility.
The Volkswagen Type 1, better known as the VW Beetle, is one of these rare examples.
So much has been written about this car, this classic, this bestseller; it is pointless to explain here. Type 1s path through history started out differently to the one it finally took. The political midwives in the 1930s had something else on their minds other than the post-war economic miracle. Unlike many others of its time, the Volkswagen Type 1, the VW Beetle, was not the icon for high earners but a reward for those who had made it big. It was a symbol for a country looking into the future but falling back on earlier virtues such as German workmanship and engineering. Although many other countries also manufactured automobiles, the most produced car in the world comes from Germany. Irony of fate – it was pushed from this pedestal by its own successor.
The basic concept of the VW Beetle outlasted four decades: a central tube frame, independent suspension, a Boxer engine in the back. It benefited from many improvements during its long period of construction and was representative of “Made in Germany “. Thanks to the economic recovery in post-war Germany, the successful car was driven and loved by three generations.
What better way to live the VW Beetle myth than behind the wheel of a VW 1303 Beetle Convertible on a quiet country road passing a sleepy village, visiting a Castle of King Ludwig or the Obersalzberg in Berchtesgaden. Check out our fantastic Beetle trips: Berchtesgaden Tour, Zugspitz Tour or King Ludwig Tour.
Our VW Beetles
In our classic car fleet you will find the following VW Beetles:
VW Beetle 1200
- Even in the days of Ferdinand Porsche, cabriolets were among the first prototypes being planned. In 1945 the first discussions were held with the company Hebmüller in Wülfrath about the manufacture of a cabriolet version; a year later also with Karmann in Osnabrück. A major fire on the 23rd of July 1949 meant the end for Hebmüller; the body manufacturers could only deliver 696 of the 2,000 units ordered by Volkswagen. Karmann in Osnabrück henceforth led the way and supplied up until January 1980 all VW Type 1s with fresh air. Already in 1946 Karmann converted a sedan by removing the roof and installing transverse and longitudinal struts. At first the roof structure corresponded to that of the Horch cabriolet with outer folding top bow but was later discarded. Unlike the Hebmüller cabriolet, Karmann’s open top rested on the car body, whereby the rear luggage compartment and motor cover retained the shape of the sedan. In 1949 VW ordered a preliminary series of 25 vehicles to undergo the usual rigorous tests. Karmann passed with flying colors and received an order of 1,000 units from Wolfsburg; three years later the 10,000th Karmann Beetle Cabriolet rolled off the assembly line. The 1200 Series impresses esthetically with lots of chrome and stylish interior details. The dashboard panel was painted in the same body color; the original price at the beginning of production in 1955 was DM 6,525. What better way to live the VW Beetle myth than behind the wheel of a VW 1200 Beetle Convertible on a quiet country road passing a sleepy village, visiting a Castle of King Ludwig or the Obersalzberg in Berchtesgaden. Check out our fantastic Beetle trips: Berchtesgaden Tour, Zugspitz Tour or King Ludwig Tour.
Technical data Model variants / production period: 1965 – 1966 Engine: Four-cylinder boxer, air-cooled Engine position: rear, longitudinal Drive: Rear-wheel Wheelbase (mm): 2,400 Length / width / height (mm) 4,070 / 1,540 / 1,500 Motorversionen Type: 1200 (from 1960) Displacement (cm3): 1,191 Output (kW / HP – at RPM): 25 / 34 / 3,600 Max. torque (Nm – at RPM): 82 / 2,000
VW Beetle 1303
- Those who remember the history of the VW Beetle, understand why connoisseurs gush over the 1303 model; it is the only classic car that could have been bought as a new car. The 1303 was, according to the contemporary car aficionado Claus Peter Becker in “Motor Klassik”, “the natural denizen of elegant neighbourhoods and the cool second car in exclusive residential areas.” The colour palette is in line with the current trend of the late seventies with a focus on metallic colours: in addition to the popular brazil brown, these include diamond white, hummingbird green, river blue, Indiana red, platinum and pearl metallic. If the graceful wife or daughter preferred pastels, she could select lemon yellow, Mars red, Florida blue or alpine white. Despite a basic price of DM 13,000 the Beetle cabriolet sold the most in the latter years of its production. According to ” auto motor und sport” 16/1977, “in fine society it is not a faux pas to be seen driving to the theater in this car.” The open-top VW Beetle of the late seventies was the one of the very few cabriolets with four full-size seats. Whether the trunk of almost 400 liters volume, divided into the space behind the rear seats and the forward trunk, is, as Clauspeter Becker writes, sufficient for a multi-week vacation in Tuscany with the family depends on how spartan your holiday luggage is packed. The chassis is so good after all, that Porsche used the same suspension later for the 924 and 944 models, the steering rack bar corresponds to that of the VW Golf I and it is state-of- the-art in 1974. All in all 30 years of development time and 300,000 built cabriolets made the 1303 the most sophisticated cabriolet in the world at that time: striking differences to its predecessors were the domed windscreen, the 1.6-liter engine, the new dashboard, standard front disc brakes, high-quality synthetic roof , large three-chamber taillights and many small details . On the 10th of January 1980 the last copy of the VW 1303 with the chassis number 152 044 140 was built by Karmann in Osnabrück and placed in a museum. What better way to live the VW Beetle myth than behind the wheel of a VW 1303 Beetle Convertible on a quiet country road passing a sleepy village, visiting a Castle of King Ludwig or the Obersalzberg in Berchtesgaden. Check out our fantastic Beetle tours: Berchtesgaden Tour, Zugspitz Tour or King Ludwig Tour.
Technical data Model variants / production period: 1970 – 1972 Engine: Four-cylinder boxer, air-cooled Engine position: rear, longitudinal Drive: Rear-wheel Wheelbase (mm): 2,420 Length / width / height (mm) 4,080 / 1,585 / 1,500 Motorversionen Type: 1303 LS Displacement (cm3): 1,584 Output (kW / HP – at RPM): 37 / 50 / 4,000 Max. torque (Nm – at RPM): 106 / 2,800