It’s easy to forget just how far back the history of this iconic car goes. Ferdinand
Porsche envisioned an affordable, reliable and simple car for the masses which first
took shape as the Porsche Type 12 in 1931, thought to be influenced by the design
of the Austrian Tatra. The distinctive shape can clearly be seen in these early cars
which also share the air cooled rear engine design.
After successful road testing of several prototypes and with the enthusiastic backing
of Adolf Hitler the opening of the first factory took place in 1938 and with it the
official launch of the Beetle.
The Beetle has changed very little in appearance over the years from 1938 to the
last car to be manufactured in 2003. The first obvious difference being the change
from a small split rear window to the more familiar larger single window in 1957.
Sales of the Beetle continued to grow and boomed in the 1960’s due to some clever
advertising campaigns. By 1972 the Beetle overtook the Ford Model T as the most popular
car ever made when No. 15,007,034 was produced.
In later years demand declined. Annual production dropped to 30,000 in 2003 from
a high of 1.3 million cars in 1971. The last Beetle, No. 21,529,464 rolled off the
production line in the Mexican Factory in Puebla on 30th July 2003, 65 years after
it’s original launch.
The Beetle is the longest running and most manufactured automobile of a single design
platform anywhere in the world.
The Transporter or Volkswagen Type 2 is the official name of the Bus or Camper. Introduced
in 1950 it has appeared in several forms:
Panel van, a delivery van without side windows or rear seats.
Walk-Through Panel Van, a delivery van without side windows or rear seats and cargo
doors on both sides.
High Roof Panel Van, a delivery van with raised roof.
Kombi, from German: Kombinationskraftwagen (combination motor vehicle), with side
windows and removable rear seats, both a passenger and a cargo vehicle combined.
Bus, also called a Volkswagen Caravelle, a van with more comfortable interior reminiscent
of passenger cars.
Samba-Bus, a van with skylight windows and cloth sunroof, first generation only,
also known as a Deluxe Microbus.
Flatbedpickup truck, or Single Cab, also available with wider load bed.
Crew cab pick-up, a flatbed truck with extended cab and two rows of seats, also called
a Doka, from German: Doppelkabine.
Westfalia camping van, "Westy", with Westfalia roof and interior.
Adventurewagen camping van, with high roof and camping units from Adventurewagen.
Semi-camping van that can also still be used as a passenger car and transporter,
sacrificing some camping comforts. "Multivan" or "Weekender", available from the
third generation on.