The Stranger-Than-Fiction Backstory Of The Original ‘People’s Car,’ The Volkswagen Beetle: Video

It’s a virtually impossible task to walk the earth today and not know of the Volkswagen Beetle; it’s undoubtedly one of the most famous cars in automotive history. A little lesser-known, however, is just how the original Type 1 Volkswagen Beetle came to be.

That’s the story that Jalopnik Editor-In-Chief Matt Hardigree is here to share, in this video clip from Nat Geo TV.

In essence, the original intent of the Volkswagen Beetle was to function as a German equivalent to the Ford Model T: simple, compact, and affordable enough for the masses. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the job of designing the Volkswagen – or “people’s car” – went to the best automotive designer in the country: Dr. Ferdinand Porsche.

But what may surprise you is the historical figure who first commissioned the Volkswagen Beetle: Adolf Hitler. Within no time, prior to the start of World War II, the Beetle went from a sheet of paper to the roads of Germany – albeit in fairly limited supply, as the war necessitated a halt in production.

For the full history, be sure and watch Matt Hardigree and the entire Volkswagen Beetle origin story presented by Nat Geo TV:

Aaron Birch is an automotive enthusiast and writer/filmmaker from Detroit, MI. As a rule, he only buys cars older than himself.

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