In three prototypes were running;  all were lost during World War II , the last in a bombing raid in Stuttgart in The Type 32 was similar in design to the Type 12, but it had a flat-four engine. NSU discontinued car manufacturing, and the Type 32 was abandoned at the prototype stage.
In October , the first two Type prototypes, known as cars V1 , a sedan, and V2 , a convertible V for Versuchswagen , or "test car" , were ready. All cars had the distinctive round shape and the air-cooled , rear-mounted engine. Included in this batch was a rollback soft top called the Cabrio Limousine. The car was designed to be as simple as possible mechanically. The suspension design used compact torsion bars instead of coil or leaf springs. The Beetle is nearly airtight and will briefly float.
On 26 May , Hitler laid the cornerstone for the Volkswagen factory in Fallersleben. The model village of Stadt des KdF-Wagens was created near Fallersleben in Lower Saxony in for the benefit of the workers at the newly built factory. Volkswagen had only just started small scale production, building about Beetles, when civilian production was halted at the start of the war.
Hitler was given the very first convertible Beetle built in A handful of KdF-Wagens were produced, primarily for the Nazi elite from to , as the Typ It produced small numbers of Kommandeurswagen Typ 87 , with a Typ 1 body mounted on a four-wheel drive Schwimmwagen chassis; the fenders were widened to accommodate Kronprinz all-terrain tires reminiscent of the later Baja Bugs. Much of the essential equipment had already been moved to underground bunkers for protection, which let production resume quickly after hostilities ended.
Due to gasoline shortages late in the war, a few " Holzbrenner " Beetles were built, powered by pyrolysis gas producers located under the front hood. In occupied Germany, the Allies followed the Morgenthau plan to remove all German war potential by complete or partial pastoralization. As part of this, in the Industrial plans for Germany , the rules for which industry Germany was to be allowed to retain were set out.
Mass production of civilian VW cars did not start until post-war occupation. The Volkswagen factory was handed over by the Americans to British control in ; it was to be dismantled and shipped to Britain. In March , Herbert Hoover helped change policy by stating. There is the illusion that the New Germany left after the annexations can be reduced to a " pastoral state ". It cannot be done unless we exterminate or move 25,, people out of it. His first task was to remove an unexploded bomb that had fallen through the roof and lodged itself between some pieces of irreplaceable production equipment; if the bomb had exploded, the Beetle's fate would have been sealed.
Following the British Army-led restart of production and Hirst's establishment of sales network and exports to Netherlands, former Opel manager and formerly a detractor of the Volkswagen Heinz Nordhoff was appointed director of the Volkswagen factory in The engine fires up immediately without a choke. It has tolerable road-handling and is economical to maintain. Although a small car, the engine has great elasticity and gave the feeling of better output than its small nominal size.
There were other, less-numerous models, as well.
The Type 18A , a fixed-top cabriolet, was produced by Austro-Tatra as a police and fire unit; were assembled between January and March On 17 February Beetle No. Though extremely successful in the s, experiencing its greatest sales growth in North America between and , the Beetle was increasingly faced with stiff competition from more modern designs globally. The Japanese had refined rear-wheel-drive, water-cooled, front-engine, small cars including the Datsun and Toyota Corona , whose sales in the North American market grew rapidly at the expense of Volkswagen in the late s.
Honda introduced the N , based on the space-efficient transverse-engine, front-wheel-drive layout of the original Austin Mini , to the North American market in late , and upgraded the model to the Honda Civic in The Japanese "big three" would soon dominate compact auto sales in North America. In Ford introduced its Pinto , which had some market impact as a low cost alternative in the wake of the drop of the US Dollar against the Deutschmark that same year.
As the s came to a close, Volkswagen faced increasingly stiff competition from European cars as well. The Beetle was faced with competition from new designs like the Fiat and Renault 5 , and more robust designs based on the Austin Mini layout such as the Superminis. German competitors, Ford and Opel also enjoyed strong sales of modern smaller cars like the Ford Escort and Opel Kadett.
Volkswagen's attempts to boost the power of their air-cooled motor to meet the demands of higher highway speeds in the late s, then comply with new pollution control regulations, caused problems for reliability and fuel efficiency that impaired the reputation of the aging design.
Safety issues with the Beetle came under increasing scrutiny, culminating in the release of a rather scathing report.
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None of these models, aimed at more upscale markets, achieved the level of success of the Beetle. The over-reliance on a single model, now in decline, meant that Volkswagen was in financial crisis by It needed German government funding to produce the Beetle's replacement. Production lines at Wolfsburg switched to the new water-cooled, front-engined, front-wheel-drive Golf designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro in , sold in North America at the time as the "Rabbit".
The Golf eventually became Volkswagen's most successful model since the Beetle. It was periodically redesigned over its lifetime, with only a few components carried over between generations, entering its seventh generation in ; the Beetle had only minor refinements of its original design.
The Golf did not kill Beetle production, nor did the smaller Polo which was launched a year later.
Production of the Beetle continued in smaller numbers at other German factories until 19 January , when mainstream production shifted to Brazil and Mexico: After this shift in production, sales in Europe did not stop, but became very low. Beetle sedans were produced for U. The last Beetle was produced in Puebla , Mexico, in July Production in Brazil ended in , then started again in and continued until The Beetle outlasted most other cars which had adopted the rear-engine, air-cooled layout such as those by Subaru , Fiat , and General Motors.
Porsche's series which originally used some Volkswagen-sourced parts, continued to use the classic rear-engine layout which later became water cooled in the Porsche series, which remains competitive in the second decade of the 21st century. By , over 21 million Type 1s had been produced, but by , annual production had dropped to 30, from a peak of 1. Each car included the 1. A mariachi band serenaded production of the last car.
In Mexico, there was an advertising campaign as a goodbye for the Beetle. In one of the ads was a very small parking space on the street, and many big cars tried to use it, but could not. After a while, a sign appears in that parking space saying: Another depicted the rear end of a Beetle the year Volkswagen was established in Mexico in the left side of the ad, reading " Erase una vez There were other ads with the same nostalgic tone.
In , Volkswagen prototyped a 1. Volkswagen made only two of these naturally aspirated, air-cooled boxer diesel engines, and installed one engine in a Type 1 and another in a Type 2. The Beetle featured a rear-located, rear-wheel drive, air-cooled four-cylinder, boxer engine in a two-door bodywork featuring a flat front windscreen, accommodating four passengers and providing luggage storage under the front bonnet and behind the rear seat—and offering a coefficient of drag of 0.
The bodywork attached with eighteen bolts to its nearly flat chassis which featured a central structural tunnel. Front and rear suspension featured torsion bars along with front stabilizer bar—providing independent suspension at all wheels. Certain initial features were subsequently revised, including mechanical drum brakes, split-window rear windows, mechanical direction-indicators and the non-synchronized gearbox.
Other features, including its distinctive overall shape, endured. In fact, the Beetle was prized for its seemingly unchanged appearance and "marketed to American consumers as the anti-GM and Ford: We don't change a car for the sake of change. Its engine, transmission, and cylinder heads were constructed of light alloy. An engine oil cooler located in the engine fan's shroud ensured optimal engine operating temperature and long engine life, optimized by a thermostat that bypassed the oil cooler when the engine was cold.
Later models of the carburetor featured an automatic choke. Engine intake air passed through a metallic filter, while heavier particles were captured by an oil bath. After , steering featured a hydraulic damper that absorbed steering irregularities. Indicative of the car's utilitarian design, the interior featured painted metal surfaces, a metal dash consolidating instruments in a single, circular binnacle , adjustable front seats, a fold-down rear seat, optional swing-out rear windows, front windows with pivoting vent windows, heating via air-to-air exchange manifolds operating off the engine's heat, and a windshield washer system that eschewed the complexity and cost of an additional electric pump and instead received its pressurization from the car's spare tire located in the front luggage compartment which was accordingly overinflated to accommodate the washer function.
Throughout its production, VW marketed the Beetle with a four-speed manual transmission. From and almost exclusively in Europe ,  VW offered an optional version of the Saxomat semi-automatic transmission: Subsequently, beginning in in Europe and in the United States , VW offered an optional semi-automatic transmission marketed as Automatic Stick Shift and also called AutoStick , [ citation needed ] which was a 3-speed manual coupled to an electro-pneumatic clutch and torque converter.
It was in that Wilhelm Karmann first bought a VW Beetle sedan and converted it into a four-seated convertible. After successfully presenting it at VW in Wolfsburg, production started in The convertible was more than a Beetle with a folding top. To compensate for the strength lost in removing the roof, the sills were reinforced with welded U-channel rails, a transverse beam was fitted below the front edge of the rear seat cushion, and the side cowl-panels below the instrument panel were double-wall. In addition, the lower corners of the door apertures had welded-in curved gussets, and the doors had secondary alignment wedges at the B-pillar.
The top was cabriolet-style with a full inner headliner hiding the folding mechanism and crossbars. The rear window was tempered safety glass, and after , heated. Due to the thickness of the top, it remained quite tall when folded. To enable the driver to see over the lowered top, the inside rearview was mounted on an offset pivot. The convertible was generally more lavishly equipped than the sedan with dual rear ashtrays, twin map pockets, a visor vanity mirror on the passenger side, rear stone shields, and through , wheel trim rings.
Many of these items did not become available on other Beetles until the advent of the optional "L" Luxus Package of After a number of stylistic and technical alterations made to the Karmann cabriolet,  corresponding to the many changes VW made to the Beetle throughout its history , the last of , cabriolets came off the production line on 10 January During this period, a myriad of changes were made throughout the vehicle beginning with the availability of hydraulic brakes and a folding fabric sunroof in The rear window of the VW Beetle evolved from a divided or "split" oval, to a singular oval.
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The change occurred between October and March The brake light function was transferred to new heart-shaped lamps located in the top of the taillight housings. In , the separate brake lights were discontinued and were combined into a new larger taillight housing. The traditional VW semaphore turn signals were replaced by conventional flashing directional indicator lamps for North America.
For , the Beetle received what would become one of its more distinctive features, a set of twin chrome tailpipes. Models for North America gained taller bumper guards and tubular overrider bars. For , the Beetle received a revised instrument panel, and a larger rectangular rear window replaced the previous oval design. For , significant technical advances occurred in the form of a new engine and transmission. The single-barrel Solex carburetor received an electric automatic choke and the transmission was now synchronized on all forward gears.
The traditional semaphore turn signals were replaced by conventional flashing directional indicators worldwide. For , the Beetle received a mechanical fuel level gauge in place of the former fuel tap. The Standard model continued without a gas gauge until the end of the model year. At the rear, larger tail lights were introduced incorporating a separate amber turn signal section to meet new European standards these turn signals remained red in the US market until The former hand-pump style windscreen washer was replaced by a new design using compressed air. The largest change to date for the Beetle was in The result was a more open, airy, modern look.
Models so equipped carried a "" badge on the engine lid. The cc engine was standard for North America. For , a yet-again larger- displacement engine was made available: North America received the engine as standard equipment, but did not receive front disc brakes. These models were identified by a "Volkswagen" badge on the engine lid. The rear suspension was significantly revised including a widened track, softer torsion bars and the addition of a unique Z-configuration equalizing torsion spring.
The clutch disc also increased in size and changes were made to the flywheel. New equipment included a driver's armrest on the door and locking buttons on both doors. Safety improvements included two-speed windscreen wipers , reversing lights in some markets , and a driver's side mirror. In accord with the newly enacted US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard , North American models received a dual-circuit brake system, the clear glass headlamp covers were deleted; the headlamps were brought forward to the leading edge of the front fenders, and the sealed-beam units were exposed and surrounded by chrome bezels.
Throughout the rest of the world markets the model sold in Europe et al. Another oddity of the North American market Beetle is the rear bumper overriders towel rails — the overriders have a different shape unlike the older models besides the one-year only engine decklid. The most noticeable of which were the new larger, higher mounted C-section bumpers. At the rear, new larger taillamps were adopted and were able to accommodate reversing lamps, which were previously separate bumper-mounted units.
Beetles worldwide received the '67 North American style vertical headlamp placement, but with replaceable-bulb headlamps compliant with ECE regulations rather than the US sealed beams. Other improvements were a new outside gas filler with spring-loaded flap, eliminating the need to open the trunk to refuel. The fuel gauge was integrated with the speedometer and was now electrically actuated rather than cable-operated. A number of safety improvements were made in order to comply with new American safety regulations: US models received a padded instrument panel that was optional in other markets.
To meet North American head restraint requirements, VW developed the industry's first high-back bucket seat. A new 3-speed semi-automatic gear box with torque converter and vacuum-operated clutch became available mid-production year. The semi-automatic models received a vastly improved semi-trailing-arm rear suspension also known as "independent rear suspension" although the earlier swing axle Beetles were also independent and eliminated the need for the equalizing torsion spring.
This new rear suspension layout would eventually become an option on later models. Beetles equipped with the automatic were identified with a "VW Automatic" badge on the engine lid and a matching decal in the rear window. For , the only exterior change was the fuel filler flap no longer had a finger indentation due to a new interior-mounted fuel door release. In other markets, manual transmission models retained a swing axle independent suspension which would continue until the end of German Beetle production.
In , a new "L" Luxus Package was introduced including, among other items, twin map pockets, dual rear ashtrays, full carpeting, a passenger-side visor vanity mirror, and rubber bumper moldings. There were two Beetles for the first time in , the familiar standard Beetle and a new, larger version, different from the windscreen forward.
All Beetles received an engine upgrade: The ventilation system was improved with the original dash-top vents augmented by a second pair aimed directly at the driver and passenger. For the first time the system was a flow-through design with crescent-shaped air exits fitted behind the rear quarter windows. Airflow could be increased via an optional 2-speed fan. The standard Beetle was now badged as the VW ; when equipped with the engine, it was badged S, to avoided confusion with the Type 3, which wore VW badges.
The new suspension layout allowed the spare tire to be positioned flat under the trunk floor. Although the car had to be lengthened slightly to accomplish this, it allowed a reduction in turning radius. To gain additional trunk volume, the under-dash panel [ clarification needed ] was lowered, allowing the fuel tank to be shifted rearward. From the windscreen back the big Beetle was identical to its smaller progenitor, except for having the also new semi-trailing arm rear suspension as standard equipment.
Both Beetles were available with or without the L Package. The convertible was now based on the body. While it lacked the front disc brakes that normally accompanied the larger motor, it was fitted with brake drums that were slightly larger than the standard Beetle. With the Super Beetle being sold as the premium model in North America, the standard Beetle, while retaining the same cc engine, was stripped of many of its earlier features in order to reduce the selling price.
An engine compartment socket for the proprietary VW Diagnosis system was also introduced. The rear luggage area was fitted with a folding parcel shelf. A limited-edition Commemorative model was launched in celebration of the Beetle's passing the record of the Ford Model T as the world's most-produced automobile. In the engine bay, the oil-bath air cleaner gave way to a dry element filter, and the generator was replaced with an alternator.
The changes to the cowl and windshield resulted in slight redesign of the front hood. The instrument panel, formerly shared with the standard Beetle, was all-new and incorporated a raised speedometer pod, rocker-style switches and side-window defrosters. Front and rear deck lids were finished in matte black, as was all exterior trim with the exception of the chrome headlamp bezels. Inside were corduroy and leatherette high-bolstered sport seats and a small diameter three-spoke steering wheel with padded leather rim and a small red VW logo  on the bottom spoke.
In some markets, the sport wheels in both 4. On the Super Beetle, the steering knuckle, and consequently the lower attachment point of the strut, was redesigned to improve handling and stability in the event of a tire blowout. A limited-edition Big Beetle was introduced based on the LS. Available in unique metallic paint colors, the car featured styled-steel 5.
Both were finished in metallic gold and featured styled-steel 4. Inside were brown corduroy and leatherette seats, loop-pile carpet, and padded four-spoke deluxe steering wheel. The Super Beetle Sun Bug included a sliding-steel sunroof. In , front turn indicators were moved from the top of the front fenders down into the bumper. At the rear, the license plate light housing was now molded of plastic with a ribbed top surface. The injected engine received a new muffler and in California a catalytic converter. This necessitated a bulge in the rear apron under the rear bumper and replaced the distinctive twin "pea shooter" tailpipes with a single offset pipe, making injected models identifiable at a glance.
The received rack and pinion steering. Mid-year, the Love Bug was introduced for North America: A price leader, the Love Bug retailed for less than a standard Beetle. To make up for the loss in North American markets, the standard Beetle was upgraded, regaining some of the features that were removed in In addition, the 2-speed ventilation fan was included, previously available in North America only on the larger Beetle.
The automatic stickshift option was discontinued as well. This was the final model year for the Beetle sedan in North America. The convertible was offered in a "triple white" Champagne Edition in Alpine White with white top and interior with the padded deluxe steering wheel, tiger maple wood-grain dash trim and 4. Approximately 1, Champagne Editions were produced. For , a new Champagne 2nd Edition convertible was launched, available in blue or red metallic paint with white leatherette interior.
Features included the 4. The only reason I can think is that Volkswagen aren't very good at niche models. They prefer badge engineering above everything else these days.
The Last Volkswagen Beetle Will Roll Off The Line Next Year « CBS Denver
It could have been so popular! At least this bay window has a water-cooled engine, hence I presume efficient heating and de-misting. No one told me when I innocently bought a s bay that you need a hugely expensive oil-burning heater module if you require warmth in the vehicle. Which kinda put it out of action for most of the damp and cool British year.
Did have some sunny Cornish beachboy days, but mostly ignored the beast, and long-since replaced by better wheels. A custom T5 is my current choice, and very good it is, too. The last VW camper.
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