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Volkswagen - History 2

As far as construction techniques are concerned, Porsche already has something in mind. At least, he has worked for NSU and Zündapp on this subject. All these constructions including the Auto-Union type C have a similar chassis. The central tubular frame is already to be found with Hans Ledwinka, the famous Czech car constuctor. The rear engine was already since long decided upon, but how should it look? For Zündapp it is a five cylinder radial engine because of the available motorcycle-manufacturing equipment.

If one could only fall back on the two-stroke engine because of the enormously tight calculation! The tests however prove its lacking highway firmness. It is incredible how many engines this small team has designed, built and worn out. Maybe this is one of the reasons for the later success. The final result, an air-cooled four cylinder boxer engine, clearly shows that one can crack the chains of calculation against all odds.

What about the competitors? Various argumentations and statistics are used to convince them that the purchase prize of this car is so far below their own prize range that it rather attracts new customers than to poach existing ones. They remain distrustful, as one can imagine and the posibility to undermine Porsche`s project still exists. After all, he depends on the suppliers and has high time pressure because Hitler grants only very short time for the construction of experimental cars.

The first three cars are built in the workshop Feuerbacher Weg in Stuttgart. Everything is very modest and the designers except Porsche and his son Ferry number only a few, assemblers not taken into account. The initially granted time limit is already exceeded by nearly one year. Presenting two of those three vehicles to the financier, the imperial association of the German car industry, becomes one of Porsche`s most difficult tasks.

Not only a perfectly functioning, completely new car is to slip out of the egg. Also the calculation is checked thoroughly, only to prove that it doesn`t work. Apparently the gentlemen intend to accept Hitler`s will and prevent the development of a 'people`s car', or 'Volkswagen' in german. This would have been the end of the project if Porsche had not been that committed to it.

The authoritarian regime simply goeas ahead as wel. Mercedes-Benz whose board of directors Porsche did not leave amicably has to build 30 test cars. Enough drivers are provided who bring the cars to their limits daily and it is unclear who in the end suffers more from it. At least, one can call an average highway speed of nearly 100 km/h by a car with 17 kW (23.5 HP) full-power-driving. Adding to it are the country roads driven at high speed and of course mountains.

50,000 test kilometres per vehicle with all the damages that happen may be the second reason for Porsche`s coming success. At least, tests and damage repair take place also under supervision of the university of Stuttgart. Porsche asserts himself with Hitler's support. The latter believes in the draught so firmly that he simply turns away when the new Opel P4 is introduced during the IAA (International Automobile Show) 1937. This already existing car can be purchased for a mere 1500 RM, but the problem is that Opel by that time belongs to an american group!

Thank God the Nazi regime has not survived. If it had, one may doubt whether the Beetle had ever had such a success. In Germany at that time the number of the people who can afford such a car is limited. Nevertheless, the impossible becomes reality. The regime confiscates trade union money of the German working front to build a gigantic plant in Wolfsburg for the 'KDF car' production. (Kraft Durch Freude : 'Strenght By Joy', a Nazi holiday and tourism organization for the common people). The laying of the foundation stone in 1938 and the presentation of the Volkswagen throughout Germany leads to an incredibly number of saving agreements. 02/19

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