Friday, April 20, 2007

When Adolf Hitler asked Ferdinand Porsche to build a "People's car"

Adolf Hitler had a keen interest in cars, says Wikipedia, even though he did not drive. He demanded that Ferdinand Porsche make changes to his original 1931 design to make it more suited for the working man. It was called the VW Käfer - or Beetle.

Changes included better fuel efficiency, reliability, ease of use, and economically efficient repairs and parts. The intention was that ordinary Germans would buy the car by means of a savings scheme ("Fünf Mark die Woche musst Du sparen, willst Du im eigenen Wagen fahren" — "Save five Marks a week, if you want to drive your own car") which around 336,000 people eventually paid into.

Prototypes of the car appeared from 1936 onwards (the first cars had been produced in Stuttgart). The car already had its distinctive round shape and air-cooled, flat-four, rear-mounted engine.

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