History of the Volkswagen Beetle: Everything You Need to Know

May 31st, 2018 by

Golden VW Beetle at sunset in front of a diner

Can you think of many vehicles as iconic as the Beetle? Throughout the history of the Volkswagen Beetle, it’s been the car you can pick out at a glance, and it’s been around for close to 80 years — a used Beetle is one of our most popular pre-owned cars.

Who Designed the Volkswagen Beetle?

While Ferdinand Porsche has received the bulk of the recognition for the design of the original Beetle, recent documents have been discovered that attribute many of the iconic design elements to an engineer named Josef Ganz. Whether Ganz designed the first Beetle or merely a car that inspired Ferdinand Porsche to design the Beetle we may never know, but we do have a very detailed history of this world-famous vehicle from production until the modern era.

Your Quick History of the Beetle

  • 1934: The Birth of a Star: Development first started way back in 1934, but it wasn’t until 1938 that the first models were rolled out.
  • 1946: From KdF Wagen to Type I: Not yet called the Beetle, the “Type 1” started to take shape as the Allies put Germany back together following WW2.
  • 1949: The Cabriolet: The VW Beetle makes its first export! At the same time, the very first civilian VW Beetle cabriolet was built.
  • 1950: The American VW: The first VW was officially exported to the U.S. They were cheap and reliable, and dealers quickly found them very easy to sell.
  • 1952: The Classic Rear Window: Talk to any VW collector and they’ll tell you how widely sought the original split-rear-window design remains. It was phased out way back in 1952 for the classic single oval.
  • 1955: The Millionth Model: It took till 1955 or the Wolfsburg factory to produce its one-millionth Beetle. Dealerships were springing up across America, with about 9,000 making their way to our shores.
  • 1971: The Super Beetle: The ‘Super Beetle’ utilized a larger front trunk, strut-type suspension, and plenty of added horsepower.
  • 1973: The Record-Breaker: By the Seventies, the VW Beetle was firmly established – in fact, it matched the Ford Model T’s worldwide sales record when the 15,007,034th Bug rolled off the assembly line.
  • 1977: The Convertible Revolution: By 1976, the car’s appeal had started to wane, and no new sedan models were sold in the U.S. after 1976. Of course, the Volkswagen continued to sell the cabriolet.
  • 1998: The Remastered Icon: VW breathed new life into the Beetle in 1998 by totally reinventing this legendary model. With redesigned body work, a cutting-edge powertrain, and modern features and fittings, it quickly became a hugely influential success.

See the Latest Evolution of the Volkswagen Beetle at Auffenberg Volkswagen

Whether you want to check out the Volkswagen Beetle in person or talk through financing, the team here at Auffenberg Volkswagen  is ready to be of assistance – simply contact us today. Or feel free to come into our O'Fallon dealership to view our current inventory or shop for VW Beetle accessories!

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