By on February 2, 2014
Ben Pon (left) and the first VW Beetle imported to the United States

Ben Pon (left) and the first VW Beetle imported to the United States

In one of those weird coincidences, Volkswagen of America is celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Beetle in the United States just as the last VW Type 2 (aka the Volkswagen bus) ever made, which was assembled in Brazil on December 20, 2013, arrived at the vintage vehicle museum in VW Commercial Vehicles’ headquarters in Hanover, Germany. The coincidence is that importing VW Beetles to America and building the VW bus were both ideas that originated in the mind of one man, someone who didn’t even work for Volkswagen, Dutch car dealer Ben Pon.

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Ben Pon Sr, the father of the VW Microbus and Volkswagens in America

Ben Pon’s father Mijndert opened up a shop in Amersfoort selling sewing machines in 1898. A few years later he added Opel bicycles, both pedal operated and motorized, to the store’s lineup and in the 1920s the firm started selling Ford and Opel automobiles along with Continental tires. In 1931, Ben and his brother Wijnand took over the shop and renamed it Pon’s Automobielhandel. After the end of World War II, in need of transportation the British occupation forces put the Volkswagen works in Wolfsburg back into production. Impressed with the quality of the VW Type 1 sedan, aka der Käfer, the Beetle, Ben Pon arranged a meeting with the British authorities running Volkswagen in April 1947, hoping to import VWs to the Netherlands. Later that year, in August, that country became VW’s first export market when the Pons were named general importer for the brand, bringing in 51 Beetles in that first year, selling the first Volkswagens to be sold outside of Germany. The following year, they also started importing Porsches.

vw-plattenwagen

VW “Plattenwagen” factory utility vehicle

By 1949, the postwar American economy was starting to boom and the farsighted Ben Pon decided to try his hand at selling cars in the United States. He exported the first Beetle that was shipped to the U.S. and accompanied it, hoping to make a distribution deal. Unfortunately he could not find a partner. While it cannot be proven that Pon sold the first Volkswagen in the U.S., part of VW lore is a story that he used the Beetle that he had imported as payment to cover an unpaid hotel bill. Pon returned to Holland where selling Beetles and eventually Microbuses to the Dutch made him one of the richest people in the Netherlands. Following up on Pon’s idea, New York based Max Hoffman started to import Beetles to the U.S. in earnest in 1950, being successful enough in establishing the brand that Volkswagen of America was set up, and the factory took over importing and distributing Beetles here.

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Ben Pon’s original April 1947 sketch for what became the VW Microbus

Going back to that April 23, 1947 meeting with the Brits running Volkswagen at the time, while at the VW works, he noticed a “Plattenwagen”, an odd looking utility vehicle with a flatbed, based on Type 1 mechanicals. As he was negotiating an import deal, he took out his notebook and started sketching. Europe was rebuilding and there was a need for commercial vehicles. Suitable for a rebuilding economy, a small van would be perfect for companies just getting off the ground. Pon drew out a box shaped cabin over the rear engined Beetle chassis, putting the driver and passenger in a cabover position at the extreme front of the vehicle. While not a large vehicle, it could carry a large amount of cargo (or passengers) in the space in between the driver and the drivetrain. Pon specified that it should have an empty weight of 750 kilograms with an equal freight capacity. He gave the sketch to his contacts at VW. At the time it was just an idea, the Wolfsburg factory was operating at capacity building Beetles.

p6

VW Type 2 prototype blueprint

By 1949, Heinrich Nordhoff was running Volkswagen. Nordhoff and technical director Alfred Haesner liked Pons’ idea of a Beetle based van. Development costs would be low because it would share many components with the Type 1 and they gave the project a green light. When some capacity was freed up a prototype known at the Type 29 was fabricated in just three months. It proved to be a little more expensive to make than anticipated since the stock Type 1 platform chassis was not strong enough and a new ladder chassis based unibody was developed. To allow the stock 25 horsepower VW flat four to power a 3,000 lb vehicle, VW engineers re-purposed the reduction gear used in the Type 81, the wartime Kubelwagen.

Wind tunnel testing made the first Type 2 more aerodynamic than the Beetle

Wind tunnel testing made the first Type 2 more aerodynamic than the Beetle

Though the early prototypes had terrible aerodynamics, with wind tunnel testing that resulted in body changes like the split “vee” windshield, the production Type 2 had a cd of 0.44, better than the Beetle’s 0.48. Nordhoff signed off on production in May of 1949 and the first Type 2 rolled off the assembly line on November 12, 1949, making this year also the 65th anniversary of VW’s first production small van.

The first VW Bus, the Type 29 prototype

The first VW Bus, the Type 29 prototype

Two models were initially offered, the Kombi, which had side windows and removable seats in the hold, and the Commercial, which had no side glass and was strictly a cargo van. The Microbus was added in May 1950, joined by the Deluxe Microbus and an ambulance model the following year, along with a single cab pickup version in 1952.

History_Transporter-1949_def

Early air-cooled Volkswagens have been getting serious money in recent auctions, with “barndoor” Type 2s and the 21 and 23 window Samba versions of the Microbus fetching truly silly six-figure prices. Ben Pon would probably smile at the prices the economical vehicles that he championed can demand today. He was just trying to provide simple transportation to the people and businesses of postwar Europe and later the United States. In doing so he’s justifiably credited with two of the best automotive ideas of the 20th century. Appropriately, this spring the first Barndoor Gathering & Vintage VW Show will be held in Ben Pon’s hometown of Amersvoort.

volkswagen-bus-microbus-kombi-last-edition-brazil-lade-1200-special-factory-collection-museum

The last VW Type 2, made in Brazil, arrives at VW’s commercial vehicle museum in Hanover, 67 years after Ben Pon sketched the first.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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48 Comments on “65 Years Later VW, Beetle, & Bus Enthusiasts Should Thank Ben Pon...”


  • avatar

    Lore also has it that The British could pick and choose what they wanted of the VW facory as it was in their ocupation zone. Stiry goes that they laughed at the Beetle. In hindsight, probably the worst automotive decision ever (if this story is even true, that is).

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      Although the first postwar Bristol was a repurposed BMW and maybe the prettiest car they ever made (though that is a low bar) so all was not lost.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The Brits were technically correct that the Beetle was an outdated, underpowered death trap, even in the late ’40s. Or, as the Rootes commission put it:

      “the vehicle does not meet the fundamental technical requirement of a motor-car”

      But, in the aftermath of WWII, an outdated, underpowered death trap is what Europe wanted. And was also what a number of developing countries wanted later in the 20th century.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        Reg; ” an outdated”_ And yet “out dated” cars still sell new, in the form of a 911.

        I cured the “under powered” issue with Okrasa/EMPI parts and later for my 57′ convertible a Porsche ‘Super 90′ engine. And even later, SCAT and others, really raised the performance bar for air cooled VW’s.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          I’m not referring to the basic layout, which is flawed (the reason people cannot get the good engines in a Cayman), but things like cable brakes a decade after every American manufacturer had switched to hydraulic.

          • 0 avatar
            3Deuce27

            Good point, but most American VW owners were not exposed to those early cable brake
            VW’s.

            My earliest VW was a early 55′, it still had the Semaphore signals, but had hydraulic brakes.

          • 0 avatar
            3Deuce27

            ?_ “I’m not referring to the basic layout, which is flawed (the reason people cannot get the good engines in a Cayman)”

            Explain, Please.

            The reason the Cayman’s are not offered with ‘the good engines’ is because they would eclipse the performance of the 911/997, or at least that is my take on the situation.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            Right, that is my point, the Cayman mid-engine layout is superior to the 911 rear-engine layout, so Porsche has to sandbag the Cayman engines to keep it from embarrassing the 911.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Ford also turned down VW, with Ford president Ernest R. Breech telling Henry II “Mr. Ford, I don’t think what we are being offered here is worth a damn!”

        • 0 avatar

          I had never heard that. If Ford had taken VW on, they probabky would’ve been the largest maker all through the second half of the 20th century and quite possibly into this one.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            Google:

            “Mr. Ford, I don’t think what we are being offered here is worth a damn!”

            With the quotation marks for various sources. Ford-VW would have been (and continue to be) interesting.

          • 0 avatar
            WildcatMatt

            I highly recommend the book _Small Wonder_ by Walter Henry Nelson which recounts much of the early days of VW’s history.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        The Brits do many things well, but, their cousins do cars better.

        I suspect the VW would have not done so well had the Brits taken over. Look at what the Germans have done w/ Rolls, Bentley and Mini. Not much left of the indigenous Brit auto business actually owned by them.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      One of those Brits was Lawrence Hartnett who was examining what was left after the war. He went onto work for GM in Australia and helped found Holden cars in 1948.

      • 0 avatar
        Ron B.

        I never heard that Hartnett was in Germany at the end of the war . When in England in the 1920′s he resurrected Vauxhall and founded Bedford trucks . He went to Australia in the 1930′s when GM bought out Holdens,who were one of many coach building firms here .Cars were imported in Australia without bodywork to escape punitive import duties. Holdens did most of GM’s work and Chryslers along with Hudson,Essex and a whole bunch of others.
        His contribution to Australia’s war effort is forgotten today but beside setting up Pratt and Whitneys aircraft engine plants and aircraft building factories,he also got the 25 lb field gun manufacture underway.
        The only design plans they had was a photograph!.
        What is so sad today is that none of the expertise or enthusiasm exists in Australia today. A lot of the blame can be fairly and squarely laid at the feet of the union backed labor party who see business,regardless of type or size as an enemy.
        So..I would not be surprised to hear he was there to assist with the reconstruction . it must have been at this time he spotted the little lloyd Alexander cars which were to become the basis of his illfated Harnett cars.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          @Ron B
          It was in his Autobiography. In a sense it was good thing that the Lloyd-Harnett failed as like the Lightburn Zeta a horrible little car, they both seem to have originated from post World War European ideas of an “ideal car” that was totally wrong for Australia and as it turned out for Europe as well. British Leyland died in this country and later on in Europe, because it could not adapt. The country lanes of European countries not freeways is what they seemed to model the cars on. I had an opportunity recently to do some background search on Lightburn and his Zeta sedan and Zeta sports,vert funny in parts in seeing the “vision” of the man, but hw was a product of the 1950′s

    • 0 avatar
      Synchromesh

      I find it ironic that Hitler’s car really got a push in America from Max Hoffman whose father was Jewish.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    I was about four months old when Pon sketched his idea for the Type-2. I have loved and owned many Bugs, but never warmed up to the Type-2. Many years ago, a neighbor tried to give me a nice early Kombi/Camper van with bad engine and I turned him down.

    One of the scariest rides I ever had was coming off Mt. Hood after skiing in a Camper van a friend had. With all the noise it made and the side to side motion, I felt like I was over Berlin in a B-17 with anti-aircraft fire going off all around. Never rode in another one, again.

    I have been without a Bug now for too many years after my second Bug was destroyed in 1998 in a hit and run accident while it was parked. I bought that Bug, a 65′, when it was nine months old, everyone of my kids drove it while sitting in my lap. It is greatly missed and I still mourn its loss.

    Thanks for the post, Ronnie.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Yup, there’s nothing scarier than riding in a Kombi downhill at any speed over 30 mph. My last ride in a VW bus was down a 5% winding grade at 50 mph in a 35 zone. The girl driving finally slowed down when I showed her my notebook and asked her if there was any final message she wanted to leave for her next of kin.

      • 0 avatar
        3Deuce27

        LMA0ff!

      • 0 avatar
        MK

        Ha! Glad to hear two people say this about the vans, I’ve only ridden in the old style vw van once and it was coming off a mountain road… Scary as hell and I don’t frighten easily in vehicles.

        I’m not even sure what component frightened me most, sitting at the very front of the van, the excessive noise, the seeming lack of control the driver exerted over the vehicle all while looking around at the metal surfaces and imagining what it was going to feel like to bounce off that. Hard to say but clearly a simpler vehicle for a simpler time.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        Try crossing the Mackinac Bridge to the U.P. in MI on a breezy day. Between the crosswinds and the skittery sensation of riding over the metal grid deck, I was clenched pretty tight. I seriously considered returning via WI to avoid another pass.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Nice. With what the old vans are fetching at auction the story deserves to be told.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    Beetle cd of .48 is surprising.
    Check your dragmobile here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automobile_drag_coefficient
    Drag increases as the square of speed hence the double nickel.

    • 0 avatar
      3Deuce27

      The ‘coefficient of drag’ is not a constant, and it squares at around 55mph which is the reason why we had the 55mph limit, it wasn’t an arbitrary figure.

      The Bug at .48 is pretty high, but so is the MX-5 at .38. especially when you compare it to a W124 MB, which looks like a brick, but has a CD of .28, mostly due to its under tray and a lot of CD reducing details.

      Last year, I found a nice SLK for a friend of mine’s wife and he has a pristine 93′ 300e. A bunch of us were looking over the SLK and I mentioned that the 300e had a lower CD then the SLK, I had to go to the web to prove the statement. They were all shaking their heads at that one, looking at the two cars sitting side by side

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Nixon wanted a passenger car limit of 50 mph. The 55 limit was a compromise to get it through Congress.

        “…the third step will be the establishment of a maximum speed limit for automobiles of 50 miles per hour nationwide as soon as our emergency energy legislation passes the Congress. We expect that this measure will produce a savings of 200,000 barrels of gasoline per day. Intercity buses and heavy-duty trucks, which operate more efficiently at higher speeds and therefore do not use more gasoline, will be permitted to observe a 55 mile-per-hour speed limit.”

        http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=4051

        • 0 avatar
          3Deuce27

          Yes, that was the legislative process, then legal part of it, but it was based on the physics of bodies in motion through an atmosphere.

          Do you think the president and senators/representatives could come up with fuel saving velocity number without science.

          They don’t do their own research now, let alone, then. Most of our bills are written by lobbyists, or ideas for needed legislation are suggested to the president who calls for a committee to look at the merits of something, and based on that, might submit a presidential bill or proposal to congress.

          The erroneous idea that buses and heavy trucks are more efficient at a higher speed then a car, is just bogus. Bigger vehicles are subject to the same physical rules as any other body in motion.

          Gearing and torgue ranges and volumetric efficiencies do make a difference, but at 55mph, all vehicles run into wall of resistance. That is one reason my, now sold, Sevenesque with more hp then a Corvette(530hp versus 455/460hp) is drag limited to about 175mph and a 2014 Corvette with quite a bit less HP and a considerably lower CD will do over 195 to over 200MPH, despite the fact that the C7 weighs more then 1,700 pounds more then the Sevenesque.

          Today, a growing number of commercial trucking companies have adopted the 55mph limit regime for their fleet of trucks, and when coupled with easing up to speed, it saves a lot of fuel.

          Now those comments will generate some hits.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The Nixon adminstration wanted 50 mph, not 55 mph, as his speech made clear.

            At the time, several states had already reduced their own limits to 50 mph in response to the oil crisis.

            55 mph was a political compromise, not selected because it was an optimal figure.

          • 0 avatar
            3Deuce27

            @ PCh101, reg; “55 mph was a political compromise, not selected because it was an optimal figure.”

            ‘Political compromise’. As stated, I didn’t suggest other wise. Nor did I say that 55mph was ‘Optimal’, it’s not, it is the physical limit at which the CD squares.

            Nixon ‘proposed’ a 50mph limit for cars, and 55mph for buses and heavy commercial vehicles, congress worked out the details and compromised on 55mph because other legislators wanted 60mph. Nixon signed the final bill. Carter reaffirmed the law.

            The law didn’t apply to all roads and was only enforceable by the ‘Commerce clause’. States didn’t have to comply, but would lose federal funds if they didn’t. Several states side tracked the law by posting no speed limits. California essentially ignored the law.

            We got stuck with the 85mph speedometer which dates cars/bikes to the ‘NMSL’ era.

            My response to the NMSL was a new 1976 Beech A36 Bonanza. Later traded for an 80′ A36TC.

            Regards

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “it squares at around 55mph which is the reason why we had the 55mph limit, it wasn’t an arbitrary figure.”

            The Nixon administration wanted 50, not 55.

            For cars, 55 was a political compromise — the Nixon staffers thought that 40-50 was the ideal speed for saving fuel, and chose 50. In other words, 55 was somewhat arbitrary, contrary to your previous statement.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I grew up in those early VW Salad days , Pops was a cheapskate and didn’t like the waiting lines @ the Dealer back then (not to mention the outrageous $ markups) so in ’54 we went to Germany on ” vacation ” and brought home a DeLuxe Microbus , when stuffed wit us 6 kids , him and mom , it wasn’t overly cold inside even in New England .

    I made a very good living running an air cooled VW Inde. shop for many years and miss them all .

    Ford too was offered the entire VW plant but said it was worthless ~ typical American lack of future vision .

    ALL old air cooled VW’s were death traps but highway speeds were much slower well into the early 1980′s .

    the Typ II was a 3/4 Ton truck until 1961 when it became a 1 Ton truck , not bad for a crude thing .

    I still have a decent 1968 # 211 panel truck I’d love to sell , I wish it was a ’67 Kombi or DeLuxe for the re sale value .

    Driving any TYP II across the Plains or other high wind area was like flying a small aircraft ~ you had to constantly crab it or get blown right off the road and into the ditch .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      3Deuce27

      “Crab it” LOL! The thought of cross controlling a Type-2 at speed in high winds on a narrow high crowned country road, raises goose bumps. Add in wet or ice slick, and my hair stands on end.

      • 0 avatar

        Driving my ’72 Bus across the Mackinac Bridge was always an interesting part of our annual camping trip to the Upper Peninsula. A bit of a handful on those windy days when 18-wheeler drivers were asking for escorts. I’m glad I never had to take my ’67 split window over the Bridge. With swing axles I’m guessing it would have been even worse in cross winds.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        @ 3Duce27 ~

        You have _NO_IDEA_ ~ for many years I had a cheap auto painter way up the mountain in Hesperia , Ca. and we’d tow used Beetles up there with an old single port 1600 CC Micro bus , always a link pin , swing axle one from the early 1960′s , more than once my partner would be drunk , high or simply full of hate with his current main squeeze and fly down that 10′ wide road @ 50 + MPH four wheel drifting both the bus and the towed Beetle through most of the corners .

        The last time , he’d removed the rear seat to haul some cargo then tossed it back in so Billy Bob and I could ride along for fun , the *instant* we hit the road back down he pulled one of his infamous Mr. Hyde bullshit acts and we were tossed from side to side in an unattached bench seat so badly (Billy Bob weighed 240 #) that we ruined all the side trim panels and bent the double doors ~ I was terrified I’d get pitched out and over the cliff , never again no matter how much he whined and complained .

        Those old steel deck bridges , -YIKES- ! truly ‘ E – Ticket ‘ rides , not for the faint of heart but routine back then , part of why I loved my tiny 36 HP engines ~ you could run them 24/7 flat out with no worries and only when no wind and dead flat could they make any VW go fast enough to really be dangerous .

        Like the time by drama-queen ex wife caused a near fatal accident in my split window Beetle ‘ Zwitter ‘ , going 85 MPH when I spun it and hit a curb on the freeway , rolling it _up_ the embankment .

        No seat belts of course because I STUPIDLY didn’t want to drill holes into my pristine Vintage VW .

        I’m sitting here now wearing a neck brace because of that accident in 197? .

        BE SAFE ! BE SMART ! .

        Don’t ask me to drive a safe , modern car ’cause I won’t .

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          3Deuce27

          Nate, sounds like you have as storied a history in VW’s as I do in VW’s.

          My first VW a 57′ sunroof, engine modified with dual carbs, Okrasa heads, cylinders, pistons, crank, Bosch ’010′ distributor, and cam, with stinger exhaust, riding on Cragar GT’s with Firestone ‘Red Line’ wide ovals, had a lot of adventures and was some what famous around my area.

          I had several incidents with it. One day as school was being let out I came around the corner at Stadium HS full tilt to do a bit of showing off.

          The curve from N_E’ St. to N_ 1st St. is a wide 95 degree slightly up hill clipped corner, sweeper. I took this corner a lot on two wheels, and thought I had down to perfection. I didn’t, well maybe I did?.

          As I came around the corner I checked for pedestrians and sighted a tall beauty crossing the quadrant, I looked too long at this magnificent creature while committed to the corner and put my Bug against the curb while on two wheels. The two curbside wheels broke off and end up under the car as it slid a few feet down the side walk. Embarrassing. Did I mention stupid.

          I did meet the beauty, and coincidentally, later, did date her as beautiful, older sister.

          Total incident damage after my ego, two Cragar GT’s, and one transaxle, though, later, I was able to put on two wheels and drive her home.

          In another incident, I was driving down So. Tacoma way, when I sighted another beauty walking down the side walk in her sun outfit all legs and dreamy, my buddy jumped up standing and whistling(the top was down on a rare sunny day in the NW).

          The guy ahead of us was in a 600 Fiat coupe, he slowed to take a look too, and I tapped him lightly in the rear bumper. I didn’t run a front bumper and had nerf bars so I had some damage to the right front fender as I had swerved a bit to the left as I braked.

          Though, there was no damage to the Fiat, it wouldn’t start after I tapped it. I took a look at the engine and discovered that the distributor was very loose and must of rotated a bit on impact. A bit of playing with it as he cranked and we found the sweet spot locked her down and sent him on his way.

          I wonder how many guys have rear ended car looking at pretty grrl’s. Damn near did it Friday afternoon when I took my 328 to the cruise-in at the local hamburger joint.

          And yes, driving old cars doesn’t concern me one bit, and driving old Bugs/Ghia’s/Type-3′s, is a treat.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            Oh yeah ~

            I grew up in them and by the time I was 14 I began my life as an Air Cooled VW Mechanic .

            I ran an indie VW shop in a college town in the early 1970′s wow what a blast that was .

            Me , I’m always interested in getting there so the Hot Rod aspect of VW’s didn’t really interest me as you could run a stock single port incredibly hard and rely on it , as you well know the modifieds not so much although you prolly got the better parking spots than I , getting there earlier =8-) .

            Driving those old things across America was always fun for me , when I got married in 1976 I bought a junked ’66 TYP III Squareback and built up an engine and drove to Guatemala with my young bride , what a fun trip .

            Before the stupid kiddies got into vintage VW’s and destroyed most of them , it was a fun hobby and a decent living .

            I used to import right hand drive VW’s from Japan and England , some had the big canvas slide back sun roofs and we’d put on a tiny steering wheel then drive down the freeway in dense traffic with someone standing up out of the open roof holding a stock steering wheel and yelling for help as the driver weaved around ~ _VERY_ childish and stupid I know but we had fun and no one ever got hurt or crashed .

            -Nate

  • avatar
    Joss

    Seems Pon saw potential where few others did or refused to go. Kind of surprising to see a Dutch fellah keen to promote German steel so soon after the occupation. As for the Brits, later on air VW was definitely better put together than BL or Rootes gone Chrysler.

  • avatar

    If you think about the fact that both Ford and British automakers turned down the chance to own the Wolfsburg factory and the VW Type 1 design, it was probably the smart decision then. At the time, American automakers were putting money into developing new postwar body designs, high compression V8 engines and automatic transmissions (along with new factories to build them). British automakers were recovering from war and transitioning back to consumer manufacturing in an economy that was still under quite a bit of government control. What did VW offer? A design that dates to the early 1930s (Ganz, Ledwinka, Porsche) and a war damaged factory that by the late 1940s was over a decade old.

    Compare an early 1950s VW Beetle to a 1954 Rambler and tell me which is the more modern car?

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    1950 VW_ Opposed compact engine mounted low(FRS/BRZ-Subaru)_ Syncromesh 4-speed transaxle _ Independent Torsion bar suspension at all four corners _Platform construction.

    1950 Nash ‘Rambler’_ Hydraulic brakes _ Envelope body _ Uni-body construction.

    I don’t know, Ronnie. I consider the 1948_60 Nash/American modern Airflyte styling(design language) to be one of the most beautiful automotive designs ever created, as does Jaguar designer Ian Callum, but underneath, it was just more of the same.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    RE: Ben Pon ;

    Instead of wasting time worrying about ignorant racially motivated hate filled nazis in the recent past , he looked forward and saw a terrific business opportunity ~ a true genius .

    ” The primary business of business is of course , _BUSINESS_ ” .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    VW did well because of continuous improvement of basic car, versus annual styling changes.

    When people complain of today’s look alike, yet tech savvy cars, look to VW, etc.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I had the good fortune of encountering not one, but two 66 Buses in the same campground as we were staying in Massachusetts last summer. One was from California (hippies), and the other was a local school teacher with Right Wing stickers on his car. All very nice people.

    They were camped only 1 site apart from each other, and shared Bus stories with each other – time stood still for me as I listened reverently close by. The CA car had an entire replacement engine on the floor inside plus numerous spare parts just in case. The day before, they had changed the generator in a parking lot.

    While fun to drive, repair, and reminisce about, such cars really break down cultural barriers as well. It was a special treat to be in the company of these owners and their storied cars.

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    In many ways, the Volkswagen Type 1 and Type 2 were ahead of their time: watercooled motors overheated whereas aircooled did not; rear engine placement gave excellent legroom; unibody construction was lighter and stronger than body on frame; the boxy shape of the VW “Van” was copied by virtually every other automaker, and fuel economy of 25-30 mpg was prescient, as we learned during the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Great story.

    I really like it when someone takes a gamble and succeeds.

    I wonder if we will ever have another vehicle that is not technologically advanced and yet make a positive impact for so many.

    • 0 avatar
      Ron B.

      Thats the thing Al,It was very advanced …for 1934, when Porsche,looking over the shoulder of his compatriot,Ledwinka ,Stole his ideas. I have a mate in Sydney who has two Tatraplans. Working on those is like working on a Giant beetle,and the wheels from a beetle will bolt straight onto a Tatra.
      if you were to look at a beetle now ,and then compare it with the construction of a mazda 2 or hyundai,Kia or what ever similar size small car,you can see that simpler is better and just because a car comes with aircon and air bag doesn’t really make it advanced.


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