VW Beetle History

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VW BeetleVW Beetle
1934 On June 22, the Automobile   Manufacturers' Association of the German Reich commissioned Ferdinand Porsche   to design a "People's Car”.
1935 The first prototype was   powered by an air-cooled 700 cc flat-four engine developing 22 hp. Two   further cars of this type were built.
1936 The three prototypes were   designated Series VW 3. On February 24 sedan/saloon and convertible versions   were demonstrated to the Automobile Manufacturers' Association of the German   Reich in Berlin.   Between October 22 and December 22, each Series VW 3 car covered   approximately 50,000 kilometres in a practicability test.
1937 The prototypes underwent   further testing, in particular for their ability to withstand "autobahn”   speeds. After this the Association of Automobile Manufacturers issued an   order for 30 cars to be built (the "Series 30” cars). These were tested   over a total distance of 2,400,000 kilometres.
1938 After further design   revision the Series 38 cars were built, the first to have running boards,   bumpers and the characteristic "pretzel” rear window. The air-cooled   flat-four engine had a displacement of 986 cc and developed 24 horsepower.   The car's weight was 750 kilograms. Three versions were developed:   saloon/sedan with fixed and roll-back roof and a convertible.
1939 On February 16 the cars   developed by Ferdinand Porsche, for which Adolf Hitler created the name   "KdF-Wagen” ("Strength-through-Joy Car”) were exhibited at the   Motor Show in Berlin.   The outbreak of the Second World War and the gradual involvement of the   Volkswagenwerk plant in production for military purposes prevented the car   from going into volume production. By the end of the war 630 saloon/sedan   cars had been built.
1945 Under the supervision of   the Allied forces, the factory restarted production. In the summer the   British military government commissioned 20,000 saloon/sedan cars from the   Volkswagenwerk, which was being managed at the time by the British soldier   Major Ivan Hirst. Series production of the VW Beetle began in December 1945,   and 55 cars were assembled by the end of the year.
1946 The 10,000th Volkswagen was   produced on October 14.
1947 Of the 8,987 sedan/saloon   cars produced in this year, a quantity was exported to the Netherlands.
1948 In May the 25,000th   Volkswagen left the assembly line. Monthly vehicle output rose from 1,185   cars in May to 2,306 in December.
1949 On January 8, the first two   sedan models were shipped from the Netherlands   to the USA.   Production reached 50,000 since the end of the war on May 13, and on June 1   the "Export” model was announced, with more luxurious interior trim and   greater use of chrome on the body than the Standard model. This was also the   day on which the Karmann company announced its special four-seat Type 15   convertible body, based on the Export model of the Volkswagen.
1950 From April onwards the   Volkswagen is available with a folding sunroof at extra charge. Hydraulic   brakes are also introduced.
1951 The Volkswagen is already   being exported to 29 countries. In October, total output reaches 250,000. The   basic model is given ventilation flaps in the front side panels. The Export   model now bears the Wolfsburg   coat of arms as a badge on its nose. Telescopic shock absorbers take the   place of the lever type.
1952 In October, various significant   changes were made to the Export model including triangular vent windows in   the doors, a gearbox with synchromesh 2nd, 3rd and 4th   gears, and 15-inch wheels.
1953 On March 10 the typical   "pretzel” rear window was replaced by a single oval window of larger   area. On July 3 the 500,000th Volkswagen left the assembly line. Cars were   now being exported to 86 countries.
1954 In January a 30 hp 1192 cc   engine was announced, giving the car a top speed of 68 mph.
1955 On August 8 the   one-millionth Volkswagen was produced. The car acquired a number of new   features: a PVC sunroof. twin exhaust pipes and new rear lights.
1956 In addition to tubeless   tyres, the car was given improved engine-compartment insulation, and more   powerful windscreen wiper and starter motors.
1957 The Volkswagen's front and   rear windows were again increased in size and its dashboard redesigned.
1958 A large outside mirror was   mounted on the driver's side.
1959 The doors were given fixed   handles with an inner release catch. In August the new VW 1200 Export model   was introduced with a 34 hp engine and an all-synchromesh four-speed gearbox,   plus a new steering wheel design which remained until 1971. In addition, both   the Standard and Export models received flashing turn indicators instead of   trafficator arms, a 65 percent larger luggage compartment, a windscreen   washer and asymmetric-dip headlights.
1960 The five millionth   Volkswagen left the factory on December 5.
1961 The Export model was   equipped with pneumatically activated windscreen wipers. The Standard model   received hydraulic brakes.A 34 hp engine was also   introduced
1963 The folding sunroof was   replaced by a crank-operated sliding steel panel.
1964 In November the Standard   model received the all-synchromesh gearbox and was designated VW 1200 A.   Series production started at Volkswagen's Emden plant on December 1.
1965 The Standard 1200 A model's   power output was increased to 34 hp. The new VW 1300 Export model with 40 hp   engine was launched, and redesigned front suspension introduced. On September   15, the ten-millionth Volkswagen was built.
1966 The VW 1300 A Standard   model replaced the 1200 A and was available with either a 34 hp or a 40 hp   engine. One-key operation of the ignition and driver's door lock was   introduced. Production of the VW 1200 A ceased in July, and in August the VW   1500 was introduced with a 44-hp engine and disc brakes at the front. Safety   locks were introduced, along with locking front seat backrests. 12V   introduced as an optional extra.
1967 The VW 1200 "Economy   Beetle” with 34-hp engine became available in January. Safety was enhanced by   adopting a safety steering column and lap-and-shoulder seat belts. The VW   1500 model is also available with automatic transmission and semi-trailing   arm rear suspension. Dual circuit brakes and 12V become standard.
1969 Introduction of the VW 1300   L with a special equipment specification.
1970 Introduction of the 1302 (   34 and 40 hp) and 1302 S (50 hp) models with strut-type front suspension and   double-pivot rear axle. A convertible version of the VW 1302 is also built.   Production of the VW 1500 ceased in July.
1971 The rear window is enlarged   again.
1972 On February 17 the   15,007,034th Beetle is produced, thus breaking the production record   previously held by the Ford Model T. Production of the "Panorama”   Beetle  (the VW 1303) with 44- or 50-hp   engine begins in August, taking the place of the previous VW 1302. The VW   1300 S is introduced with a 1.6-litre engine. The GT Beetle is launched – the   first and only Beetle sold in the UK to be called Beetle.
1973 Volkswagen launches several   special-edition models: the Jeans Beetle, the Big Beetle, the "Black and   Yellow Racer” and the City Beetle. Production of the VW 1300 ceases in July.   The VW 1303 A model is announced in August, and also the 1303 Convertible.
1974 At 11.19 a.m. on June 1, the last Beetle to be   built at Volkswagen's main plant in Wolfsburg   left the assembly line. Production of the VW 1303 A ceased in August.
1975 The last VW 1303 was   produced in July.
1978 On January 19 the last   Beetle to be built in Germany   left the line at the Emden   plant. Altogether, 16,255,500 Beetles had been produced in Germany. At overseas locations,   however, Beetle production was still running at more than a thousand cars a   day. The "Mexican Beetle”, for instance, is a VW 1200 L with 34-hp   engine.
1980 Karmann produced the last   Beetle Convertible at its Osnabrück factory on January 10. Total production   volume was 330,281 convertibles.
1981 On May 15, Volkswagen de   Mexico produced the twenty-millionth Beetle in Puebla. To celebrate this anniversary, a   "Silver Bug” edition is introduced.
1984 Mexico produces its 100,000th Beetle for export.
1985 On August 12, the last ship   carrying Beetles tied up in Emden   docks. The Beetle celebrated its 50th anniversary on October 17.
1992 The Beetle from Mexico   acquires exhaust emission control by closed-loop, three-way catalytic   converter and an oxygen sensor. The 21-millionth Beetle is built on May 23 in   Mexico.
2002 On June 25, Golf production   figures pass the Beetle, with 21,517,415 units. The Golf takes over the title   of most-built Volkswagen model from the Beetle.
2003 The last Beetle   manufactured by Volkswagen rolls off the line at "Volkswagen de   México" in Puebla/Mexico in July.