The Volkswagen History
In 1930s Germany, when cars cost more than most people earned in a year, Hitler came up with this idea of having a “People’s Car” (the literal English translation of Volkswagen), which will be affordable for the average individual. This was one of Hitler’s political promises to the German people.
So, in 1933 Hitler asked engineer Ferdinand Porsche (also creator of the Mercedes-Benz SS/SSK and Porsche automobiles) to design and manufacture the first Beetle, called the KDF-Wagen – using the initials of the Nazi motto “Kraft durch Freude” meaning Strength through Joy. It is believed that this use of Nazi propaganda upset Ferdinand Porsche, as he was not a member of the Nazi party.
Sadly, WWII broke loose and Hitler stopped the production of Beetles to produce military vehicles such as the Kübelwagen (later to be known as the Kurierwagen or the Thing in the United Sates)and the Schwimmwagen (amphibious). Beetles mass production was resumed after the war, when the British Military took charge of Volkswagen to later give it back to the Germans. The Volkswagen Type 2 van and the Karmann Ghia were later introduced. By 1972 the VW Beetle was the most popular car ever made.
Form more on the history of Volkswagen, see this info-slideshow
What about the Hippie Bus?
The Type 2 VW; also known as the Volkswagen Bus, the Transporter, the Kombi (derived of the German Kombinationskraftwagen), Westfalia, Westy, HippieBus, Bully, among others, was designed by a Dutch VW importer named Ben Pon and it was originally created as a work vehicle. The earlier models were called Split window buses because they had 2 windshields. In 1951 the Westfalia camper model was introduced. Later on (1972), the Hippie van’s engine grew from Type 2 to Type 4.
As everyone should know, the hippie movement of US and Canada were the first ones to popularize the Volkswagen van, and this became one important hippie symbol (just like Woodstock and piece signs). But the hippies weren’t the only ones! Surfers from the 1960s had also a lot to do with making the van famous. Beds, kitchen and lots of storage space, what else could they ask for?
To read more about the VW bus, check out Happy Birthday: VW Hippie Van turns 60
Type 4 – 411 and 412, Another Favorite
The 411 was introduced in 1968 as Volkswagen’s largest passenger vehicle with the company’s largest engine and designed by Italian car design firm Pininfarina (also designers of Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Ferrari cars), which at the time had an advisory contract with Volkswagen.
For more on 411s, check out type4.org
Also, check out this site dedicated to Karmann Ghias