Originally founded by the German Labour Front and bolstered by the National Socialist party government under then-chancellor Adolf Hitler in 1937, Volkswagen’s original aims were to create an affordable and reliable car for German citizens. The name “Volkswagen” literally translates to “people’s car” and production of the infamous VW Beetle was subsidised by the National Socialist party (informally known as “Nazis”) in the aim of allowing more German citizens to afford a car. Before this sponsorship, the project floundered, struggling even to buy rubber for Volkswagen tyres without outside funding.
The concept of a “people’s car” is not a new one, but the Volkswagen Beetle is the most successful example, as more than 21 MILLION Beetles have been manufactured since its release. This is incredibly ironic when you consider that very few German citizens were able to buy a Beetle during the National Socialist regime, as the majority of units were adjusted for military use. Common modifications for military vehicles were mounted guns and off-road chassis with extra-large Volkswagen tyres.
Production of the Volkswagen Beetle (then renamed Volkswagen Type 1) skyrocketed after the war, as the British military were able to restore the main Volkswagen factory to working order. Extolling the functionality and economy of the Beetle design, Major Ivan Hirst encouraged the British Army to order Beetles, and the main factory was producing 1000 cars a month by March of 1946.
Volkswagen have since shaken off their socialist benefactors, but still focus on affordable and reliable motors, with the Golf and Polo being shining examples of this. You’ll have to go to a specialist auction to find a Volkswagen Type 1 Beetle, but their modern models are far more practical. These hard-working German motors will drive perfectly fine with budget Volkswagen tyres, but if you want a “wunderbar” Volkswagen, put some performance tyres on that Golf GTI and blitz the car park like there’s no tomorrow!