70 years ago this week in fact! Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – Dec. 27, 2015 In 1949, a Type 1 “Beetle” arrives in the U.S. This cool release is a throwback to a very interesting period in world history. Volkswagen was founded in Berlin on May 28, 1937 with a factory set to be built at the site of what would eventually be the City of Wolfsburg. The factory was built in 1938/39 as a facility for series production of the Volkswagen car designed by Ferdinand Porsche. Realization of this "People's Car" vision was interrupted by World War II, which brought with it a demand for armament production and the Nazi regime's policy of forced labor. It was shortly after the first post-war Christmas in 1945 when the first Volkswagen Type 1 – later to be known as the iconic the Beetle – rolled off a German production line. By the end of 1945 only 55 vehicles had been produced as the start of mass production was an improvised undertaking with post WW-II German material shortages hampering manufacturing operations over the next few months. Even so, the first early vehicles were visible symbols of hope for a country that had rightfully been destroyed almost to a building. It was a new beginning for the car plant under British control. By the end of the Second World War in 1945, just 630 of the People's Car known as the 'KdF-Wagen' had been built. The state-of-the-art factory, present-day Wolfsburg, was integrated into Germany's wartime armaments industry. The site was occupied by US troops on 11th April 1945. In June 1945, the British Military Government took over trusteeship of the factory with its workforce of some 6,000 people. On 22nd August 1945, the recently appointed 29-year-old Senior Resident Officer Major Ivan Hirst acquired an initial order for 20,000 cars that provided the factory and its workforce with a future. The vehicles were intended mainly for use by the occupying Allies, but also to help provide health-care services in rural areas. Production mostly remained stuck at around 1,000 vehicles a month through 1946/47. It was only after the currency reform in June 1948 that significant numbers of private buyers emerged. Volkswagen's British roots remain discernible still today. It was the British who converted the factory to civilian manufacturing, and who focused on the quality of the vehicles. They paid great attention to service and meeting customers' needs, and set up a dealer network which was already covering all three western zones of Germany by 1948. The launch of exports in October 1947 marked a first step onto the international stage. The first elections to the Works Council in November 1945 – barely six months after the end of the war – introduced the principles of democratic employee participation into the plant. When the Volkswagenwerk GmbH company was placed in German hands in October 1949, it was in pole position for the start of Germany's Economic Miracle. By 1955, the factory was celebrating completion of the one-millionth Beetle in Wolfsburg. By the time production was discontinued in 1974, a total of 11,916,519 Beetles had been built in Wolfsburg. 2013 VW Beetle with a real first gen In Malibu 2 years ago. Dr. Manfred Grieger, Head of the Volkswagen AG Corporate History Department: The Beetle was a key factor in the development of democracy and mobility in post-war Germany, and subsequently found a home in many other countries, acting as an important ambassador in promoting a more positive image of Germany. Production at the Beetle's last manufacturing location in Puebla, Mexico, was discontinued at the end of July 2003. With over 21 million vehicles built, the Beetle had become an automotive icon, loved by many millions of people and its characteristic shape is recognized the world over. 65 Years of Beetle in the U.S. It started with the iconic Beetle in 1949. $1,280 to start and equipped with an air cooled 25 hp 1.1L engine with a 4-speed MT. The first Beetles like most vehicles of their day were equipped with mechanical cable-driven drum brakes and a non-synchromesh gearbox. The first Beetle was shipped to New York City businessman.