Exactly 75 years ago, the first Volkswagen Beetle was launched and has become one of the most popular cars in the world.
Volkswagen is celebrating the 75th anniversary of one of the most important dates in its history. No matter what, the Type 1, known to us as the Beetle, went into series production on December 27, 1945, AutoBlog writes.
Prior to that, the factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, and the Beetle had a bleak future. Although the car was developed before the Second World War, only 630 units were built during the conflict as the factory shifted its focus to the war effort. As a result, the Allied forces bombed it several times in 1944. When peace restored, it would have been much easier to level the factory, dispose of the Beetle and do something else with the place.
That’s pretty much what happened, but the British government, which controlled the area where Wolfsburg was after the war, was desperate for vehicles to move its staff around.
Having studied an early Beetle, officials ordered a batch of 20,000 cars from the factory in August 1945, doubling that number a few weeks later. The original plan was to produce 1,000 cars per month, which meant that the order had to take over three years to complete. Most likely, the officials did not lose sight of the fact that a significant order would keep workers on the job until at least 1948. Claiming to start production was easier than actually doing it; raw materials and fuel were hard to come by, and finding ways to shelter and feed workers was a logistical nightmare.
Despite the obstacles, Volkswagen began series production of the Type 1 two days after Christmas 1945 and built a total of 55 cars by 31 December. The cars were largely assembled by hand, so the factory did not reach the 1,000 car mark. Exceeding this number was impossible at the time due to the aforementioned shortage, but production increased significantly as the situation improved. The introduction of the Beetle in the US in 1949 dramatically increased its popularity and helped turn the model into an icon.
Wolfsburg was not the only factory to build the Beetle; production also took place at several other German factories, including a plant in Audi’s hometown of Ingolstadt, in Australia, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and other countries. While the model was gradually replaced by the first generation Golf in Europe and North America, it remained relatively popular in other global markets and did not go out of production until 30 July 2003, when the last of the original Beetles was built in Mexico, where VW also produced the 1998-2010 New Beetle and 2012-2019 Beetle. A total of 21,529,464 units were built in 56 years of operation, and that’s nothing short of exceptional. VW has made thousands of changes to the car, but no changes to the basic design or mechanical layout.