The Volkswagen Beetle proudly delighted the crowds for over 80 years, ultra-cute, super tiny, and oh-so-fun. Although its production years have come to an end, this little car won’t fail to steal your heart if you add it to your collection. Unlike other popular classic cars, it won’t take up much room either, leaving plenty of extra space in your garage. Ready to get geared up to find the VW Beetle of your dreams? Here’s a quick look at its history to help you get started.
A Winning Design by Porsche
Ferdinand Porsche led the way to greatness by developing the Volkswagen Beetle alongside Erwin Komenda and Karl Rabe in the mid-1930s. Although it was better known as the Type 60 back then, the Beetle’s iconic bubbly profile and rear-mounted, air-cooled 995 cc engine setup was born.
With its built-in oil cooler and mere 25 horsepower, the flat-four engine kept things super simple, establishing the car’s no-frills personality from the start.
For further emphasis, the design team:
- Used a basic rear-wheel-drive configuration
- Skipped the springs in favour of torsion bars
- Painted the interior the same as the exterior
- Built a simple cabin space with plain Jane seats
The split window at the rear was just about the fanciest thing about the car – and it only lasted until 1952.
Bumpy Start for the Beetle
Despite all the work that went into bringing the VW Beetle to life, World War II halted production in its tracks well before anyone could really get their hands on this simple masterpiece. In fact, mass production of the Beetle did not begin until after the war, starting with just over 1,700 produced in 1945.
Despite that, production hit one million cars by 1955, marked by the creation of the bright-gold, bejewelled model to celebrate the occasion. Early Beetles soared in popularity due to their ability to outperform the Citroen 2CV and Morris Minor.
That said, performance was not exactly the name of the game. In the first ten years, the engine grew to 1131 cc, but still only produced 25 horsepower. The little car could achieve a top speed of 115 MPH if you dared, although 0 to 62 MPH times sat in the 27-second range.
Civilian Beetles Swarm the World
While performance was never a driving factor in its success, the Volkswagen Beetle never failed to bring endless smiles to the world. The 60s and 70s were its golden era, spurred on by the Herbie the Love Bug franchise.
During that time, the Beetle arrived on showroom floors in many fun configurations, including convertibles and canvas-doored cabriolets. Volkswagen also had mercy on its simplistic design and made constant changes to its build. Year after year, they improved its performance, handling, safety, comfort, and so much more.
By the time production of the original model ceased in 1992, VW had made a stunning 78,000 changes. Official production numbers exceed 21 million cars worldwide, too, gifting every inch of the globe with its cheery design.
The VW Beetle Invades Motorsports
The Volkswagen Beetle made waves in the motorsports world throughout its long production run and well after. In its original configuration, this car performed surprisingly well in Formula Vee open-wheel racing. Modifications were later allowed to let it climb the classes, resulting in the need for fancy wings, better suspension, and meatier tires.
With its RR layout and weight well under 2,000 pounds, the Beetle also excels in drag racing events. Smart engine swaps invigorate the build considerably, allowing for easy sub-10 second ¼ mile times. Granted, it doesn’t take much to fill the car with the engine alone, so it’s best to stay reasonable with the upgrades if you still want room to ride in style.
Other popular motorsports for the Beetle include:
- Beetle Challenge
- Armstrong 500
- Trans-Am Series
- Baja 1000
- Uniroyal Fun Cup
Beetles can even make great rally machines, although the VW Rabbit quickly outshined its prowess on the dirt.
Ready to Liven Up Your Life with a Classic VW Beetle?
With over 80 years of Beetles on the road, you’ll have to look carefully if you want to add this fun collector car to your life. Otherwise, you could miss out on interesting finishes, features, and upgrades made along the way. So, be sure to do your research about all the different configurations before diving into the search for your ideal Volkswagen.
If you do add a Volkswagen Beetle to your stable, remember that collector car insurance is the way to go. With the right level of coverage, you can rest assured that your investment will stay protected for the long term.