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Volkswagen Company History

Published: 24th Mar 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!


Volkswagen Archive

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Initially intended to be an inexpensive ‘people’s car’, the Volkswagen ‘Beetle’ saloon was developed during the 1930s by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, with ‘encouragement’ from Adolf Hitler. The cars were ready for large-scale production when the Second World War intervened. Amidst the wreckage of the bombed-out Wolfsburg factory, the British officer in charge in 1945 (Major Ivan Hirst) saw the potential of the car. He and a small team from the British army organised the re-starting of production, and the famous air-cooled flat four cylinder ‘Beetle’ became popular around the world and famed for its rugged reliability. The commercial derivatives became equally well known and respected too. Production of the evergreen Beetle only recently ceased in South America, but in Europe these air cooled machines (also the similarly powered 411) were ousted by new, water-cooled models. The first was the NSU-derived front engined, front wheel-drive K70 saloon, which was launched in ‘69 but finally appeared in ‘71. Anther new water-cooled front drive model was the Passat (1973). During the early 1970s VW was in a parlous financial state, and a ‘lifesaving’ model was required. This turned out to be the Golf hatchback, introduced in 1974. The GTi versions proved to especially well respected in the developing hot hatch market. The sporty fastback Scirocco wasalso popular, and employed Golf running gear.

For those looking for a hatchback smaller than the Golf, the Polo was available from 1975. More recent VWs have included the Corrado, updated Passats and a succession of Golfs – to date there have been five successive series. Taken under the wing of Volkswagen, the Spanish firm of Seat and the Czechoslovakian company Skoda have prospered in the last few years, with revitalised product ranges which incorporate VW mechanical units. Ironically, the name which helped start Volkswagen six decades ago – Porsche – looks set to take over the empire, meaning that the wheel really has turned full circle!

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