These days, German companies direct what’s happening at several classic British car manufacturers – Rolls Royce, Bentley, Mini. There was a time when a Brit directed a German car manufacturer – Volkswagen. It was just after World War II. Germany had been divided into Allied sectors, and it happened that the Volkswagen plant was in the British sector. There was a factory, albeit 75% destroyed by Allied bombing, people who needed jobs, and machinery; and the Allies needed vehicles for the occupying troops. When Major Ivan Hirst was assigned to see what could be done with the factory, he didn’t have a lot of support, but he had enough to take up the challenge and start producing automobiles.
The Beetle’s Origins
Two people have to be credited with the ultimate production of the Volkswagen Beetle – Dr. Ing. Ferdinand Porsche and Adolf Hitler. There has been speculation that the car was based on a 1920 design by Josef Ganz, and Tatra did finally win a suit against Volkswagen that it violated the patent they held on Hans Ledwinka’s T97 design. But the car would likely never have happened had it not been for Porsche and Hitler. Even while working for firms like Mercedes and designing high end cars, Porsche had an interest in the design of a small car available to the average working person. In 1931, Porsche designed Project 12 for Zündapp, known primarily for their motorcycles. The car was called the “Auto für Jedermann” – “Everyman’s Automobile.”
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