Wednesday 15th September 1965
The 10,000,000th Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the production line. Ferdinand Porsche and Zündapp began developing the “Auto für Jedermann” (car for everybody) in 1931. In the followinf year, three prototypes were running, all of those cars were lost during the war, the last in a bombing raid over Stuttgart in 1945. In 1933, Adolf Hitler gave the order to Ferdinand Porsche to develop a “VolksWagen”. The name means “people’s car” in German, in which it is pronounced [ˈfolksvɑːgən]. Hitler required a basic vehicle capable of transporting two adults and three children at 100 km/h (62 mph). The “People’s Car” would be available to citizens of the Third Reich through a savings scheme at 990 Reichsmark, about the price of a small motorcycle (an average income being around 32RM a week). Erwin Komenda, Porsche’s chief designer, was responsible for the design and style of the car. But production only became worthwhile when finance was backed by the Third Reich. War started before large-scale production of the Volkswagen started, and manufacturing shifted to producing military vehicles, the best known was the Kubelwagen. Until 1946, the Volkswagen plant (called “Strength Through Joy Town”) was owned by the Nazis and was not a commercial company, rather a political creation. The factory was bombed intensively towards the end of the war. A group of British Army personnel were sent to the plant to salvage what they could and re-establish car production. One single Beetle survived the wreckage of the bombed factory, upon showing this Beetle to Military Government, they were rewarded with an order for 20,000 Beetles, with a target of 1,000 Beetles a month. A german management team, headed by Heinz Nordoff, was assembled during the latter part of 1947, and in 1949 the factory was handed over to the regional government of saxony. The Beetle as we know it was truly born.