• Jul 26, 2006
The Volkswagen Company turned sixty years old last week. In July 1946, German dealerships Gottfried Schultz in Essen and Raffay & Co. in Hamburg, Germany received their first Beetle sedans (saloons).

The Beetle's history reaches as far back as the 1930s. However, the first one built under the Volkswagen name came shortly after the end of World War II. British army officer Major Ivan Hirst, who controlled what would be the first Volkswagen factory, obtained an order of 20,000 sedans for the British military. The now-named Volkswagen factory shipped eight Beetles to Gottfried Schultz while sending one to Raffay & Co. Both continue to be large Volkswagen dealerships today.

The military approved the establishment of 10 major distributors and 28 dealerships later that year. Volkswagen would go on to sell millions of its Beetles world wide. In the U.S., Volkswagen sold the turtle-shaped car until 1978. The car would not return to the world's largest automotive market until 1998 as the New Beetle.

Related:
UFOs beamed out of Roswell as VW New Beetle 2K Car Show begins
Volkswagen hoping buyers stick around for New Beetle styling gimmick
VIDEO: Jet-powered VW New Beetle


[Source: DueMotori and Wikipedia]


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  • 13 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      The beetle was on sale into 2003 not 1978... Just not in the states.

      --Noah
      • 8 Years Ago
      When I was in Germany years ago, I made a pilgrimage to the VW museum in Wolfburg. When I was talking to Germans about the VW, most don't view it with the same reverance many Americans do. To the Germans, it has an almost negative image because it was the car they *had* to use after the war. They bought it in droves because it was the only car they could afford. It was a symbol of the austerity their defeat brought. Kinda like we view the Chevette, only with more shame.

      Still, it's one of the most amazing cars ever built from an engineering point of view, and the musuem was very, very cool. I only wish they'd brought the 4x4 Micro Buses to the US...
      • 3 Years Ago
      The Volkswagen Beetle is also known as the Volkswagen Type 1, was an economy car produced by the German auto maker Volkswagen from 1938 until 2003.
      http://www.autolinemag.com/627-test-failed-volkswagen-beetles.html
      • 8 Years Ago
      #1. For related reasons, this is why the New Beetle has largely not sold well in Europe. (but not the only reason)

      The US and Mexico have always had far more nostalgia for the car than in Germany.
      • 8 Years Ago
      In the early 60s there were four beetles parked in our driveway behind the parents' Buick, one for each teenager. They were revered for their longevity and gas mileage. Looking back they weren't that great. No heaters, had to change the oil every 1,000 miles because there was no filter, the kingpins seized up even if you greased the front end every oil change, but they did get great gas mileage. At 29¢ a gallon it was an important consideration!
      • 8 Years Ago
      I had the privilege of being the second owner of a 1973 1303 (aka "Super Beetle") back in the late 80's and early 90's. What a great car. I miss it to this day. Wonderfully engineered. I used to call my scheduled maintenance "analog therapy" ( I work in Information Technology) as I viewed the ritual of oil change, valve-adjustment, etc as a welcome certainty in my otherwise computer-driven life.

      I sold it (350k miles!) when I was transferred overseas in 1997, and had the unfortunate accident of finding it parked on the street in Seattle 3 years after my European sojourn ended... the bozo who bought it had allowed it to entropy beyond belief. My trusty little Sumatra Grun Beetle was trashed, dented, faded, torn, splattered in bondo and primer...

      I literally cried.

      While I'm sure it still ran (it was after all, a VW Beetle!) it was a crying shame to see it abused like that, after all my (and the previous owner's) care from '73 to '97.

      --chuck

      • 8 Years Ago
      The only decent thing Adolph Hitler ever did.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wait a minute. The article calls these things sedans. Sedans have four doors. I've never seen a Beetle with more than two.
      • 8 Years Ago
      From AnnDee: "#1 There are 4x4 Buses here"

      I think they brought the later wasserboxer AWD Vanagons here, but I don't think they ever brought the air-pumper Microbuses with the outboard reduction-gear units. Talk about ground clearance!
      • 8 Years Ago
      In the US, 1980 was the last model year. The sedan ended in 1978, but the convertible was built for 2 more years.


      #1 There are 4x4 Buses here
      • 8 Years Ago
      1979 was in fact the last model year for the Beetle Convertible in the US. 1977 was the last year for the Sedan in the US.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #1 As a german I can assure you that many here see the original beetle convertible still as one of the most admirable cars ever been built. Convertibles in good shape cost a fortune here... Especially better educated people try to grab one as a second/third car and enjoy their trips on sundays (actually I live in Osnabrueck where nearly 400000 beetle convertibles have been built).

      Regarding the regular beetle (sedan) you're right. It's the people's car, nothing special. And it's always been.
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