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The History Of Volkswagen Essay Research Paper

The History Of Volkswagen Essay, Research Paper Tom Stephenson The History of Volkswagen In 1937, the German government founded Volkswagen to mass produce a low priced “peoples car.” A Nazi organization called the German Labor Front operated the company originally. They brought in Ferdinand Porsche to design the car.

The History Of Volkswagen Essay, Research Paper

Tom Stephenson

The History of Volkswagen

In 1937, the German government founded Volkswagen to mass produce a low priced “peoples car.” A Nazi organization called the German Labor Front operated the company originally. They brought in Ferdinand Porsche to design the car. He used elements from his type 32 prototype NSU that he designed in 1934. Such elements were an air cooled horizontally opposed four cylinder rear mounted engine and torsion bar suspension. Production was supposed to start at the Kdf-Stadt factory in September 1939, but this turned out to be the same month that world war two was declared and the car was put off. As the war raged on, the factory was used to produce military vehicles. By 1943 the factory had 12,000 prisoners of war repairing aircraft inside it. Near the end of the war, the factory was used to manufacture the V1 buzz bomb. For most of the war the factory was not bombed because it was so new it was not on many allied maps. However, several daylight allied attacks finally took it out. After the war, West Germany help rebuild itself with the Volkswagen. In merely a decade, nearly half the cars on the West German roads were Volkswagens.

By the 1950’s Volkswagen exports were strong to all the world except the United States. This was because of its unusual rounded shape, small size, and historical connections to Nazi Germany. In 1953, out of 6.6 million new cars sold in the US, 330 of them were Volkswagens. This figure was partially caused by the lack of foreign service stations. So by the turn of the century, Volkswagen had 807 dealerships scattered across America. In the spring of 1959, a full page advertisement appeared in The New York Times with a picture of a man drinking coffee while his VW was being serviced. In 1959 an American advertising agency began a landmark campaign using phrases such as: “Why do people buy Volkswagens faster then we can build them?” ; “A Volkswagen only needs water when you wash it” ; “Think small” ; “There are shapes you simply can’t improve on” ; and “The VW runs… and runs… and runs.” This campaign was very successful, and for some years after that the beetle was the top import car sold in the US.

While domestic cars grew fins and got larger and larger, the beetle was also improved, but you would not know it by looking at it. In 1953 the beetle had its first major physical change when the famous split rear window was replaced by an oval window which increased view by twenty five percent. This was the first big change in twenty years. However, this window was replaced in 1958 by an even larger one. These were not the only changes. In 1955 the wing like turn signals were replaced with lights on the top of the front fenders. In the same year the designers also gave the bug a new dashboard. In 1966 safety became an issue, and Volkswagen installed a safety steering column and dual circuit brakes.

Volkswagen‘s success reached its peak in the US in 1970 when total sales reached 569,696, which blew away all the other imports. However, by 1975 the sales of the beetle dropped to 90,000, and by 1977 it had dropped another 70,000 to 20,000 which brought the end of the beetle in the US in 1979 with the convertible model. The slump of sales in the seventies was temporary because Volkswagen released the Dasher in 1974 and the Rabbit and the Scirocco in 1975. They continued to build the beetle in Mexico and sold it in some South American countries. It has remained a popular car in Mexico where production totals 21,500,000 (through 1998). That figure helped make it the best selling car of all time.

Late in the 1970’s Volkswagen opened a factory in Westmoreland County Pennsylvania where they began building Rabbits. The Volkswagen Rabbit was known as the Golf to the rest of the world. It was considered a revolutionary hatchback compact car. It had a front wheel drive front transversely mounted engine. Fourth generation Golfs are the best selling car in Europe in this day and age. In the mid 1990’s the Golf outsold the Ford Model-T and became the third most popular car of all time.

In 1984, Volkswagen introduced the Rabbit convertible and the Jetta, a sedan based on the Golf. The GTI was also introduced in this decade. The GTI was a two-door Rabbit. In the mid 80’s the GTI won Motor trend’s “Car of the year” award. In the late 80’s the Volkswagen Fox was released. The Fox was small, spacious, durable, and affordable. In 1990 Volkswagen released the Passat as a family sedan. The Corrado was introduced as a sports car with a four cylinder engine but three years later it rocked the automotive world with the first ever Volkswagen V-6 called the VR-6. In 1995 the VR-6 was named one of the top ten engines by Ward’s Auto World. In 1998 Volkswagen introduced the New Beetle. It was quickly named the most original car in the world.

The Volkswagen holds a unique place in automotive history. It started from next to nothing after the war, and grew into a world class car company through introducing many new innovations to is various models.

Auto World, “Volkswagen Celebrates 50 years on American roads,” [WWW

document],no date,(accessed 3-6-01) URL:

http://www.autoworld.com/news/volkswagen/vw50years.htm

Barber, Chris, “VW in history, early design,” Dune Buggies and Hot VWs, April

2000, pp. 56-57,104.

Seume, Keith, VW BEETLE Custom Handbook, Bideford, Devon, Bay Veiw

Books Ltd., 1989, 1992, pp. 6-35.

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