By on August 4, 2010

“As West Germany debated last week whether it should have an army, East Germany was unmasking one.

Five thousand jackbooted, blue-uniformed toughs swarmed into the border districts to put down disturbances by farmers trying to save their homes as the Reds bulldozed a three-mile-deep isolation corridor between East and West Germany. The blue-uniformed men, part of a 100,000-man force, are called the People’s Police (Volkspolizei, or Vopos, for short).”

Oh, just the tone of that article (from TIME) makes me nostalgic for the days when American journalists kind of, you know, liked baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and freedom. Nowadays, the Times would probably “embed” somebody with the Vopos and he would enthusiastically shoot farmers while talking about the need for social justice.

But I digress. The car in the photo above is also a “VoPo” — a Volkswagen-Porsche. Styled by the consumer-goods design firm Gugelot, who were the folks responsible for the Kodak “Carousel” slide projector, it was assembled by Karmann in Germany. In Europe, it was sold as a Volkswagen; in the United States, as a Porsche. Although I’m personally a bit of a 914 fan, the car has to be understood as an aesthetic, critical, and commercial failure for Porsche. Most importantly, it was yet another episode in the strange “Inside Baseball” relationship between Volkswagen and Porsche. From the day Ferdinand Porsche started thinking about the “People’s Car” to the very last who-bought-whom stock manipulation of 2009, Porsche and VW have been engaged in a bizarre, operatic, and occasionally fraudulent relationship — and Porsche always loses. Every. Single. Freaking. Time.

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