The Volkswagen (VW) Beetle, also known as the Bug, was produced by German automobile manufacturer Volkswagen from 1938 to 2003. Volkswagen manufactured over twenty-one million of these economy cars and distributed them to many countries. The Volkswagen Beetle originally gained production momentum during the Second World War, when Ferdinand Porsche envisioned an affordable automobile that the average German could purchase. Adolf Hitler shared and supported this vision based on the influential achievements of Henry Ford. Porsche made several prototypes before developing the original mass-produced “people's car” in 1933.
The Volkswagen Beetle was equipped with a rear-engine, and powered by rear-wheel drive. Its unusual design and durability made it one of the longest-running and manufactured automobiles in the world. In the 1950's, the VW Beetle provided a more comfortable and powerful driving experience than the majority of economical cars produced in Europe. During this time, Volkswagen equipped with the Bug with the Autobahn in order to obtain sustained high speeds. In the United States, customers flocked to buy a VW Bug, mainly because of its durable build and successful advertising. In fact, the VW Beetle's popularity allowed the manufacturer to produce many variants, such as the Karmann Ghia and the Type 2 bus that would also expand its profit margins.
The VW Beetle pioneered the economy car market, and later served as an iconic benchmark for all modern compact cars. According to an international poll surveyed in 1999, the Volkswagen Beetle ranks fourth, right behind the Ford Model T, the Mini, and the Citroen DS. The Beetle's unique four cylinder, rear-wheel drive, and air-cooled box engine provided enough power to transport four passengers. The owners of VW Bugs could store their luggage or groceries under the front bonnet or in the back behind the rear seat. The VW Beetle's bodywork was attached with 18 bolts to the flat chassis. Its front and rear suspension contained torsion bars and a front stabilizer bar, which equally distributed suspension to all four wheels. The VW Bug also featured mechanical drum brakes, rear-view windows, and direction-indicators. Its rear-engine and transmission was made of light-weight alloy. The rear-engine had an oil cooler that regulated its operating temperature, which provided prolonged engine life. The engine's air intake funneled through a metallic filter. Dense particulates traveling through the air intake were captured in an oil bath. The VW's interior design featured durable metal surfaces with a superior paint job. It also contained a metal dashboard with a binnacle, adjustable seats, swing-out windows, air exchange manifolds, and windshield washer system.
The Volkswagen Beetle outlasted the predictions beset by the critics of its era. In fact, the United States has referenced the Bug as a “cult” automobile, mainly because of its associations with the hippie movement and surf culture during the 1960s. The VW Beetle's remarkable design allowed it to perform functions unseen in modern vehicles, such as its ability to float on the open water due to its sealed floor pans. Many classic car enthusiasts, also known as “Dubbers,” frequent car shows to scope out the various models of the VW Bug. Many people still restore Volkswagen Beetles in hopes of reviving their youth. Some even paint their original VW Bugs psychedelic colors. The mainstream media participated in the advertisement of these compact cars. For instance, Disney produced the film Herbie The Love Bug, a comedy series starring a VW Bug that races as number 53. Other VW Beetle mainstream portrayals include Woody Allen's film entitled, Sleeper, and Transformers, a 1984 cartoon series that featured futuristic combat robots that resembled VW Bugs when they morphed into various shapes.
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