Volkswagen Beetle - The Car of the 20th Century

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					Volkswagen Beetle - The Car of the 20th Century




                                                               Contents




Key: The location of separate text/data panels within                            1949 ...................................................................... 39
the chapters is shown by blue type. The location of                                Feature: 1950 - Deluxe ..................................... 41
featured cars is shown by italic type.                                             The Beetle attempts another American
                                                                                      landing ........................................................... 43
Introduction .................................................... 6              1950 ...................................................................... 43
Acknowledgements ........................................ 7                        Feature: 1951 - Deluxe ..................................... 44
    Bibliography .......................................................... 8    1951 ...................................................................... 45
                                                                                 1952 ...................................................................... 48
Section One: History - The People and                                              Paint colours 1945 - 1953 ................................. 50
 the Policy ...................................................... 9               Landmarks of the ‘Split’ era ............................ 51
 An unlikely duo creates a masterpiece ...... 10                                The Oval-Window Beetle, 1953 - 1957 ........ 52
 Hooray for the British! ................................ 14                     1953 ...................................................................... 52
 A golden age ............................................... 18                   The Beetle invades Britain ............................... 53
 The challenge from within .......................... 22                           If at first you don't succeed ... try another
 A long and happy exile in South America,                                             Beetle onslaught ........................................... 55
   but hardly a retirement ............................ 25                         Feature: 1954 - Deluxe ..................................... 56
 The official pretender to the throne ........... 27                               'Eine millionen' ................................................. 58
                                                                                 1954 ...................................................................... 58
Section Two: Evolution - The Creation                                            1955 (January 1955 - July 1955) ........................ 59
 of 'Der Weltmeister' ................................... 28                       Feature: 1955 - Deluxe American
 By way of an explanation, for those who                                              Specification .................................................. 61
    haven't yet caught 'The Bug'! ................. 29                           1956 (August 1955 - July 1956) .......................... 62
 The Split-Window Beetle, 1945 - 1953 ....... 31                                 1957 (August 1956 - July 1957) .......................... 63
   The KdF-Wagen ................................................... 31            Paint colours 1953 - 1957 ................................. 63
   1945 - 1948 ........................................................... 31      Feature: 1957 – Deluxe American
   The early post-war Beetles ................................. 32                    Specification .................................................. 64
     Another cog in the VW wheel ......................... 32                      The Latin connection ....................................... 66
     ‘Pon my word - The Beetle goes Dutch .......... 34                            Landmarks of the ‘Oval’ era ............................ 67
     ‘Here comes Baber in his Beetle’ .................... 35                   The Classic ‘Link-Pin’ Beetles,
     Feature: 1949 - Standard ................................. 37               1958 - 1964 .............................................. 68

                         4
 1958 (August 1957 - July 1958) .......................... 68                    Supplementing sales requires something
   Feature: 1958 - Deluxe ..................................... 71                 a bit special .................................................. 130
   The marketing men belittle the Beetle: most                                   Feature: 1974 - 1303S 'Big Beetle' ................ 130
     successfully! .................................................. 72       1973 (August 1972 - July 1973) ........................ 134
 1959 (August 1958 - July 1959) .......................... 75                  1974 (August 1973 - July 1974) ........................ 134
 1960 (August 1959 - July 1960) .......................... 75                    Feature: 1974 - 1300 ....................................... 136
   Feature: 1960 - Deluxe ..................................... 76               Something a bit special for the States ......... 138
   Feature: 1961 - Deluxe ..................................... 78               The South African satellite ............................ 139
   Whatever became of the ‘KdF Savers’? ......... 80                           1975 (August 1974 - July 1975) ........................ 141
   Just who did own Volkswagen? ..................... 81                         ‘The time has come to say adieu ...’ - The
 1961 (August 1960 - July 1961) .......................... 81                      Last Edition Beetle ...................................... 143
   Feature: 1962 – Deluxe ..................................... 82               Four and a half million owners can’t all be
 1962 (August 1961 - July 1962) .......................... 84                      wrong ........................................................... 145
 1963 (August 1962 - July 1963) .......................... 85                    So, you thought the Beetle was German? ... 145
 1964 (August 1963 - July 1964) .......................... 85                    Paint colours 1968 - 1978 ............................... 146
   Landmarks of the years 1958 - 1964 ............... 87                       1976 (August 1975) to the end of German
   Paint colours 1958 - 1964 ................................. 88                Production (January 1978) ............................ 147
Setting the standard - The tale of the                                           Landmarks of the years 1968 to 1978 ........... 148
 Base-Model Beetle, July 1949 - December                                     'Hecho en Mexico', 1978 Onwards ........... 149
   1964 ....................................................... 89             1978 - 1985 ......................................................... 149
   Feature: Raising the Standard once more ..... 95                              A veritable deluge of limited edition
The last years of the 'Sloping Headlamps',                                         Beetles .......................................................... 151
 1965 - 1967 ............................................ 101                    Feature: 1984 - 1200L 'Velvet Red' Limited
 1965 (August 1964 - July 1965) ........................ 101                       Edition .......................................................... 152
   Feature: 1965 - Sun-roof ................................ 102                 The quirks of the Brazilian connection ......... 155
   Something of a challenge erupts in the                                        Feature: 1985 - '50 Jahre Käfer' .................... 159
     United States ............................................... 104           The company that produced the 20
 1966 (August 1965 - July 1966) ........................ 105                       millionth Beetle ........................................... 160
 1967 (August 1966 - July 1967) ........................ 106                   1985 to the End of the Century. ....................... 160
   A tale of mixed fortunes in Australia ............ 107                        ‘Car of cars’ ..................................................... 161
   Feature: 1967 - 1500 American                                                 Feature: The Beetle of Today ........................ 167
     Specification ................................................ 109          The Beetle in Europe in the 21st century ..... 169
   Feature: 1967 – 1500 European                                                 Paint colours 1978 - 1985 (to the end of
     Specifications .............................................. 110             exports to Germany) ................................... 170
   Paint colours 1965 - 1967 ............................... 112                 Landmarks of the years 1978 onwards ........ 170
   From assembly to manufacture in Mexico .. 113
   Landmarks of the years 1965 - 1967 ............. 113                    Section Three: A Beetle for the Elite .......... 171
The era of the 'Vertical Headlamp' Models,                                  The Evolution of the Cabriolet ................. 172
 1968 - 1978 ............................................ 115                 The dark days of the ‘Strength Through Joy’
 1968 (August 1967 - July 1968) ........................ 115                   car .................................................................... 172
   Farewell to Heinz Nordhoff ........................... 116                 A period of British ingenuity ............................ 173
 1969 (August 1968 - July 1969) ........................ 117                  The seeds of a 30-year life-span ...................... 173
   Feature: 1969 - 1300 ....................................... 119           The all-too-brief Hebmüller Experience .......... 173
 1970 (August 1969 - July 1970) ........................ 121                   Promoting the ‘Convertible’ .......................... 178
   ‘Der Weltmeister’ ........................................... 122          The Karmann Connection ................................. 178
 1971 (August 1970 - July 1971) ........................ 125                  The evolution of the Karmann Cabriolet ......... 179
   Feature: 1972 - 1302S ..................................... 127            Cabriolet production figures ............................ 184
 1972 (August 1971 - July 1972) ........................ 127
   'Hot property' - The ‘GT’ Beetle .................... 128               Index .......................................................... 189



                                                                                                                                 5
                                                                       An unlikely duo create a masterpiece
his own consultancy, 'Dr-Ing. h.c. Ferdinand Porsche,
G.m.b.H.', was a crucial step forward in the history of
the development of the Beetle. Finally free from
restrictions, Porsche could pursue both technical
projects and his ideas for a small car unhindered,
providing the prospects for the latter's adoption by a
manufacturer somewhere looked optimistic.
     The passing of the years had seen the introduction
of a number of small cars, including Fiat's diminutive
Topolino and models by Standard, Morris and Jowett.
To Porsche, however, many of the cars seemed not only
impractical, but also intrinsically flawed. His notebooks
and accompanying sketches, dating from 1930, indicate
that he favoured a car of unitary construction. The body
should fulfil the task of stiffening the chassis, whose
weight might in turn be reduced.
     As it seemed highly unlikely that road surfaces
would be improved in the foreseeable future, an
important criteria was the use of independent
suspension for a more comfortable ride, and the notion
of torsion bars, used in conjunction with trailing links,
was conceived.
     By December 1931, the small-car idea had
progressed sufficiently to either consider a prototype,
or to find a manufacturer who would be interested in
the design. However, what was on the drawing board
was far from conventional. The design was beetle-
shaped in appearance, had two doors, four-wheel
independent suspension, and a three-cylinder air-cooled
radial engine at the rear. Overall, the length was 8ft 1in,
and it had a nett weight of 1340lb, with an engine which            In all probability, despite Ferdinand Porsche's
produced 26.6bhp at 3500rpm.                                   acknowledged genius, the Beetle, or the KdF-Wagen as it
     Dr Fritz Neumeyer, owner of the Zundapp                     was renamed at the factory foundation stone laying
motorcycle works was the first to show interest. Pursuing       ceremony in 1938, wouldn't have become a reality if it
his aim to produce a 'Volksauto'; a cheap car the bike            hadn't been for the determination of Adolf Hitler.
                                                                                     (Courtesy VW).
owner of today might aspire to tomorrow, his only
objection to Porsche's design was the air-cooled engine,
which he believed would be too noisy and, with only           operated, overhead valve, horizontally-opposed-four-
three cylinders, unable to guarantee smooth                   cylinder engine, and a redesigned, but still
performance. So, on Neumeyer's suggestion, the                unconventional and recognisably beetle-shaped body.
prototype built in 1932 came complete with a water-           The air-cooled engine proved rough and noisy but was
cooled five-cylinder radial engine. Unfortunately, this       capable of a maximum speed of just over 72mph, which
unit proved unreliable and, when coupled with                 could be maintained for long periods without
suspension problems and economic conditions far from          overheating.
conducive to the financing of a production run, the two           Mystery still surrounds the project's demise.
men parted, albeit still the best of friends.                 Officially, the cause was an agreement signed in 1930
     Porsche took his 'Volksauto' to Zundapp's main           with Fiat, whereby NSU's sale of its car department
competitors of the day, namely NSU, rekindled his air-        would lead to Italian production under the name of
cooled engine option and was given a contract to              NSU-Fiat, while in turn the original company would
produce three prototypes. The result was a push rod           concentrate entirely on motorcycles. However, it seems

                                                                                                   11
                                                                    The Split-Window Beetle, 1945 - 1953




                                          1948 Beetle. (Courtesy: Gavin Doole).

the car was brought to a halt with cable-operated drum         panels, welded together and bolted to the chassis.
brakes. All Beetles manufactured prior to August '67           Fortunately, and particularly as they were prone to
had six-volt electrics, the battery being located under        accidental damage, the wings were separate from the
the rear seat on the right-hand side of the car.               main body and merely held in position by retaining
     Unlike some cars designed in the Thirties, and            bolts.
virtually all vehicles in production at the end of the 20th         With the exception of the few cars produced for the
century, the Beetle had a separate rolling chassis.            Pon brothers, the Beetle was totally devoid of any form
Comprising a central tunnel, housing such items as the         of trim. Items like bumpers, door-handles and hubcaps
fuel line and the clutch and choke cables, and forked at       were painted the same colour as the rest of the body.
the rear to support the gearbox, plus two floorpans            Only the driver's door was lockable with a key. In the
ribbed for rigidity, the overall construction was incredibly   early years the horn somewhat inelegantly protruded
sturdy. Suspension was fully independent; making full          from the left bumper mounting bracket. At the rear, the
use of transverse torsion bars, and lever-arm shock            single exhaust pipe was variously positioned, either to
absorbers. The cars ran on 16-inch wheels fixed by five        the right-hand side of the car, or centrally. Semaphore
bolts. Tyre sizes started at an incredibly narrow 4.50 x       indicators were housed in the 'B' pillars, while some,
16, which increased to a skinny 5.00 x 16 during the           but not all, running boards were rubber-covered. The
course of 1946.                                                'W'-shaped engine compartment lid carried a separate
     The body was made up of a number of individual            pressing for the number-plate mounting, and the bumper

                                                                                                   33
Setting the standard - The tale of the Base-Model Beetle, July 1949 - December 1964




  This Pearl Grey Standard model dates from 1950 and is resident nowadays in the USA, although cars of this type were
      never officially exported to America. Steve Hammonds from Massachusetts drove the car to Germany in 1999.
                                                   (Author’s Collection).

assembly line could be appropriately described as               evidence on the Export. A delicate coach-line painted
'standard' models; the only exception being the minority        down either side of the car at waist level was a further
destined for the likes of Ben Pon in Holland, true              identifying mark. It almost goes without saying that
precursors of the launch of an uprated car. Even then,          when the attractive Wolfsburg crest badge was added
these Volkswagens benefited from little more than               to the bonnet trim on the Export model in April 1951 it
extra chrome and a better paint finish. As such, to             did not become part of the Standard's specification!
illustrate the initial differences between the new Deluxe            The horn on the Export model was concealed behind
model and the original car, now given the less than             the left front wing and decorative grilles appeared
flattering title of 'Standard', it is easier to note what was   below the headlamps, one being a blank for aesthetic
added to the specification for the Export car, rather than      reasons, while the other allowed the sound of the
to concentrate on any omissions.                                guttural horn to have its full effect! The Standard's horn
     Externally, the Deluxe could be distinguished by its       continued to sit in an obtrusive manner on the bumper
chromed bumpers, hubcaps, door and bonnet handles,              bracket just as it had always done.
aluminium trim on the bonnet and running boards, and                 Inside the car, the Export came with an elegant
a VW insignia mounted close to the windscreen on the            ivory-coloured two-spoke steering wheel, while the
bonnet. The trademark of a Standard, in terms of                Standard retained the three-prong black version as
appearance, was painted bumpers, hubcaps and all the            fitted from the very earliest of days. Internal trappings
other trappings where chrome or bright-work was in              such as the gear-knob and door handles followed the

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Volkswagen Beetle - The Car of the 20th Century




    Until October 1952 the Standard model’s horn was
attached to a bracket behind the front bumper, making the
need for the Export model’s grille in the wings unnecessary.
   On this car, which dates from 1950, and all others, it
               looked decidedly incongruous.
                    (Author’s collection)


same pattern; ivory for the Export and black for the
Standard. More noticeable at a casual glance were
features such as a dash-mounted clock, complete with
ivory surround, and a full woollen headlining for the
Export. The Standard had a blanking panel where the
radio would have fitted and resorted to a diminutive
headlining which neither extended around the rear nor
down the surrounds of the side windows. This would be
another Standard trademark throughout its life-span,
and to the end of German Beetle production with all
base models. Of course, less padding, and the                  superior to that on the Standard and, for a time, even
consequent lack of insulation, made all such cars noisier      boasted somewhat superfluous bolsters at each side of
than their Deluxe counterparts.                                the rear seat. Sliding rails to adjust fore and aft seat
    With regard to the seating arrangements, the               positions were a distinct improvement over the
specification of the upholstery on the Deluxe was              Standard's relatively cumbersome wing-nuts; another

                  92