Is the Volkswagen Beetle British?

On December 27, 1945, the vehicle known as the Volkswagen Limousine went into production at the VW plant in Wolfsburg, Germany. The vehicle was internally known—and better known—as the “Type 1.”

(Images: Volkswagen)

But here’s an interesting aspect about the production of the vehicle that had been originally developed for the National Socialists (a.k.a., Nazis). The car, then known as the “KdF-Wagen,” wasn’t exactly built in quantity: By the end of World War II, only 630 had been manufactured. The Wolfsburg factory was used to build bombs, not Beetles.

While there had been plans to demolish the Volkwagenwerk GmbH following the end of hostilities, a factory that had been badly damaged but not destroyed, the British, which had trusteeship, decided that they could put the plant to work.

Under the direction of Senior Resident Officer Major Ivan Hirst, the factory was retooled to build the car. The British Military Government put in an order for 20,000 vehicles in August 1945.

Building Beetles (Type 1) in Wolfsburg

By the end of the year, 55 cars were built.

Starting in 1946 the production rate was approximately 1,000 per month. By 1947 the vehicles were being exported.

By the time the VW Beetle went out of production in 2003, 21,529,464 vehicles had been produced (15.8-million in Germany).

Were it not for British major Ivan Hirst, it could have been an entirely different story.

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