The motor car is an icon of the 20th Century, and few car manufacturers have produced
so many legendary cars as Volkswagen. The Beetle - the best-selling car of all time;
the Volkswagen bus - symbol of a generation; and the Golf - a modern masterpiece,
are automobiles that have become an indelible part of the cultural and personal lives
In an era of privilege for the few, the Volkswagen was conceived as
an affordable and reliable means of transport for the many. Ferdinand Porsche created
the concept of the first peoples' car for Europe in 1934 and a working protoype was
launched in just a year.
By the end of 1942, 70,000 Volkswagen's were produced and
in 1945, in a swift recovery following the war, Volkswagen produced almost 2,000
vehicles for Allied Forces and the new German Post Office. By 1948, 25,000 Volkswagens
had rolled off the production lines in Wolfsburg and the first two Beetles shipped
to the USA.
By 1949, another 25,000 Volkswagens were built, and the Volkswagen Karmann convertible
became the best-selling convertible in the world.
By 1955, a million Volkswagens were made and the company had grown into a world corporation,
building factories and working communities in the United States, Brazil and Canada
and in major centers in Western Europe.
Less than two decades later the concept that
had begun as a car for the many proved so appealing to so many that the Beetle became
the best-selling car of all time, overtaking Ford's famous Model T.
And in the last
fifteen years of the millennium Volkswagen has emerged as a true global force in
automobiles, with the acquisition and re-development of famous names such as Audi,
SEAT, Skoda, and Lamborghini.