17 Feb: From Hitler To Herbie: The VW Beetle

Between 1908 and 1927, the Ford Motor Company sold 15,007,033 Model Ts, making the car the best-selling automobile the world had ever seen. That record came to an end on the 17th February, 1972 when the 15,007,034th Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the production line.

The car was the brainchild of Adolf Hitler who commissioned it almost immediately after her became chancellor of Germany in 1933. His plan was that the German public, irrespective of whether they were a doctor or a factory worker could buy a car for just 1,000 Reichsmarks which would have been around 31 weeks’ pay for the average worker.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly consider whether the Beetle is more a triumph of engineering or advertising; discuss why Ford turned down the Volkswagen factory at Wolfsburg, which they could have had for free; and look at how the Führer’s car came to be loved by 1960s American hippies and flower children…  

Further Reading:

• ‘The VW Beetle: How Hitler’s idea became a design icon’ (BBC, 2014): https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20130830-the-nazi-car-we-came-to-love 

• ‘The world’s best-selling cars’ (Auto Express, 2022): 


• ‘The History of Volkswagen, ‘The People’s Car’ (Wall Street Journal, 2016):


#70s #Inventions #US