Just what was the original VW "Beetle" called?

Flicking back through a pile of old car magazines I came across an article about the up and coming new Beetle and VW’s attempts to cash in on the retro look etc. Then it raised a question about the name. The original VW Beetle was the only VW produced so noone worried about a name, it was simply a Volkswagen. The article asked if VW were going to leave their new model nameless and let people nickname it instead. So what was the original Beetle officially called? What was it sold as? Did salesmen simply sell you a VW? Was there some sort of simple factory code that noone mentioned because it was too boring or something along those lines?

I knew it as a Type I. Type II was the microbus, Types III & IV were the fastback and squareback (I forget which was which). Obviously, there was no need for these designations until there actually was a model other than the Beetle, and the Type I included the Kharmann Ghia (sp?). I don’t recall hearing any other official names, though.

What about the Thing?

Gary T is right on about the nomenclature for postwar VW products.

The Nazis called the car we knew as the Type I the KdF-wagen. KdF stood for “Kraft durch Freude”[sup]*[/sup], the National Socialists’ recreational organization which was to handle distribution of the vehicles and offered a savings-stamp plan so ordinary Germans could put money aside for a car.

Many Germans joined the program and dutifully pasted savings stamps into books in anticipation of the day when a KdF-wagen would grace their driveway. However, few if any civilian cars were distributed through the plan, as the KdF works was soon producing military versions of the vehicle.

[sup]*[/sup]This is my memory of the phonetic spelling of the name of the organization; I know absolutely no German whatsoever.

The title to a 66 Bug I owned listed the car as a 1966 Volkswagen 1600.

I believe it was also a Type I. It was the German equivalent of the Jeep during the war, then was marketed twenty-some years later as a niche vehicle.

It was built in and intended only for Mexico. As the story goes, a big-time VW dealer went to Mexico to take a tour of the plant in Pueblo, saw the Thing and asked when it would be coming to the US. The plant manager told him it wasn’t intended for US consumption. A few phone calls later, and voila!

The original “Beetle” was called… volkswagen. That was the name given to the car built by Dr. Porche (his son went on to found the car-company called Porche). The Volkswagen as a company name came after the war when the “Peoples Car” was put into production to try to employ workers and help promote their shattered economy. During the war the car was made in only limited quantities due to supply shortages, bomb damage, bureaucracy, war production priorities, etc.

There were several factory designations for the car as it went through various changes before the design was finalized for full-scale production after the war, but the NAME of the car was volkswagen (German for “People’s Car”).

My father, who used to always drive a Ghia, recently said VW Beetles used to retail (have a MSRP) equal to the year of the model.

i.e. A 1968 Beetle sold for $1,968.

That seems way too cheap to me. Is he becoming senile or can anyone confirm that?

In Disney’s The Love Bug, they referred to Herbie as “an old ‘D’ class”. This wouldn’t be an unreasonable model name for a German car.

If this was what it was sold as, even if it was just during the late '60s, I assume it’s a reference to the shape.

Actually, that sounds about right, maybe even a bit high

I still kinda miss that unique bug sound. Just the sound, nothing else. :wink:
mangeorge (and the headroom)

I grew up in Volkswagen Beetles. My brother and I used to fight over who got to “hide” out in the Well behind the back seat when we were waiting curbside for someone,etc.

Daddy owned a 1959 VW. He drove it until it literally fell apart. The motor was fine, but due to a battery that tipped over on the floor of the back seat, the floorboards rotted away eventually.

Mom’s first car was a 1971 SuperBeetle, the first year they were offered in Ameria. I loved those cars, we took the SuperBeetle to Florida on the AutoTrain !

Mom and Dad moved on to both owning VW Rabbits as well. My first car was an orange Rabbit. These things run deeply. I must admit however, that to my mind and body now, there is NOTHING more miserable than riding in a Jetta. It’s like a cheap rollercoaster, IMHO.

This Volkswagen Beetle History site is pretty fulfilling, if curved lines are your thing. :wink:


I had an '86 diesel Jetta and I loved it!! :stuck_out_tongue:

We’ve got a 2001 diesel New Beetle - well, it’s the Perfect Child’s[sup]TM[/sup] car in 2 years, and she drives it more than anyone else at the moment. It’s a great little car.

When my Aerostar dies, I want a Jetta wagon. I like VW products.

Curious as the '66 had a 1300cc engine. IIRC mine even had 1300 on the bonnet. The engine wasn’t increased to 1600 until a few years later.

While there was a passing resemblance the thing was not the same as the WWII Kubelwagen.

Herbie’s “class D special” designation was just the sports car category he was racing under, not the vehicle name.

There’s an old joke about a worker in the kdf wagen factory stealing parts so he could build his own car. When he assembled them in his garage late one night he was shocked to find he had built a tiger tank :smiley:

What hasn’t been mentioned is that while approximately 100,000 put down deposits or full payments on the first pre-WWII Beetles, NONE of them ever actually got the car and they never got their money back, it was just swallowed up by the Nazi military machine.

I hear the sound of a VW engine virtually every day. I have a neighbour whose brother bought a VW new in 1970. He gave it to his sister, my neighbour, a year later and she’s had it ever since.

I was driving through northern Washington, could’ve been around Lyndon – we were coming back from Canada, when I saw a great VW. It was painted grey and had rhinocerous horns on the bonnet. IIRC, it also had little ears and a tail. I wish I had gotten a photo.

I’ve always wanted a “Bug”.

I was told long ago that this isn’t technically true. All these people received a sort of work credit that when they accumulated enough they could turn them in for a new volkswagen. When Volkswagen started making cars after the war (they were at least partially government owned) they would accept the credits as partial payment towards the price of a new VW. I was told that people were saving them (and VW was still accepting them) into the late 50’s or early 60’s. So they at least got SOMETHING back. Does anyone have a site for this (being right or wrong)?

There is someone in the next town over who chose to paint a classic Beetle bright yellow, and adorn it with custom formed fiberglas pieces to make it look like Pikachu from the Pokémon series.

Seriously. My kids saw this a few years ago, when that trend was at it’ peak, and I had to turn the car AROUND for them, and go back so they could oooh and ahhh…

Me, I just want a Love Bug… :wink:

“Herbie” sounds a little to clese to “herpes”. “Herpes the Love Bug.”