- The Volkswagen was a small, low-priced car designed by Ferdinand Porsche.
- In 1933 Adolph Hitler proposed a small car intended for the masses.
- Porsche and Hitler discussed their common ideas and Hitler backed the project.
- In 1936 three prototypes were produced.
- Major production began after WWII.
With the Model T, Henry Ford had built a seemingly unchanging car that was inexpensive, simple, sturdy and easily understood by repairmen in many nations -- a “people’s car.” The same can also be said of the Volkswagen, which in German literally means “people’s car.”
The car was designed by Austrian-born Ferdinand Porsche, one of the world’s greatest automobile engineers. Porsche designed many of the famous racing cars produced by Austro-Daimler, Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union in the 1920s, but his own personal determination to build a small car continued to meet resistance with his employers. He established his own design office and started working on such a car. At first, his small-car idea found no support in the German motor industry.
In 1933, in his first major speech after taking power, Adolph Hitler proposed that his country build a network of good highways; that the people will be encouraged to own and drive automobiles; and that a small car intended for the masses will be designed and built. When Hitler and Porsche were brought together shortly thereafter, and Porsche spoke about his design approach, Hitler backed the project entirely and in 1936 the first three prototypes were ready.
It was not until the end of WWII that major production would become a reality and over the years since then, the Volkswagen has been continuously modified and improved. Volkswagen took away the notion that big is best and gave us a reason to love simplicity.