Volkswagen is doing a cool partnership with America’s Car Museum this spring, and since we’re not in Tacoma, Washington to see the vintage VW’s ourselves, we thought that we would highlight a few of the coolest models here on our blog.
First up is this all-black 1943 KdF-Wagen, also known as the earliest version of the Beetle ever produced. Designed by a fellow named Ferdinand Porsche—yes, that Porsche—in conjunction with the German automobile industry and national government, it’s a stellar model of efficiency, design, economy, ease of repair and performance, nearly everything people look for in a car.
Believe it or not, the size was intended to suit two adults and three children. It aimed to handle highway speeds of around 60 miles per hour—plenty for that day—and get about 22 miles per gallon, which was a great goal for the time. It also seems shocking that modern cars have not doubled or tripled that figure for the majority of our family vehicles, but that’s a different topic.
Amazingly, the goal was for this vehicle to cost as much as a motorcycle did in that time, and it’s not like motorcycles were super-expensive luxury items. Rather, they were modest, simple purchases, which meant that the KdF-Wagen was meant to be a low-cost vehicle that a family of five could afford. Also crucial was the choice to use parts that were widely available, which would help make repairs quick and inexpensive. Many people have cited the VW bus for also embracing this philosophy.
Most of us know that what lies beneath the bonnet of our automobiles is a complex enmeshing of computer-controlled systems that we couldn’t begin to fix ourselves. It’s nice to think that a car was once designed where not only things like the wiper blades or air filter could be replaced by the average user.
What do you think of the KdF? Would such a vehicle work for your lifestyle? What are the needs of the family of five today, and what would their ideal vehicle look like? Let us know, and stop by Leith Volkswagen of Raleigh to compare the family vehicles of today. If nothing else, it would be an interesting historical experiment.