Myth Buster

Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Richard Gunn

1 IT WAS DE­SIGNED BY HITLER

Let’s deal with the evil ele­phant in the room first. Yes, the Bee­tle was a re­sponse to Adolf Hitler’s re­quest for a Ger­man peo­ple’s car and be­ing both dic­ta­to­rial and a mo­tor­ing en­thu­si­ast, he fol­lowed its de­vel­op­ment ex­trememly closely. He also re­port­edly said that it should be Bee­tle-shaped be­cause one should look to na­ture for stream­lin­ing. But the en­gi­neer­ing in­no­va­tion and ac­tual hard de­sign graft was done by Fer­di­nand Porsche and his team.

2 IT NEVER CHANGED

Put a 1938 Bee­tle along­side a 2003 ver­sion and the two are clearly more or less the same. But al­though the gen­eral con­cept didn’t al­ter over eight decades, Volk­swa­gen con­stantly im­proved many as­pects, each and ev­ery year. One of VW’s many bril­liant ad­verts pointed out that just four lit­tle parts were all a 1948 and 1965 model had in com­mon. Of course, all those claims by Toy­ota and Volk­swa­gen that the Corolla and the Golf even­tu­ally out­sold the Bug patently ig­nore the fact that the var­i­ous gen­er­a­tions of those ma­chines were ut­terly dif­fer­ent.

3 THE BEE­TLE AND THE BEA­TLES

The 1968 Lo­tus White 1500 Bee­tle on The Bea­tles’ Abbey Road cover is par­tially re­spon­si­ble for one of rock mu­sic’s sil­li­est myths. In 1969, a ru­mour started that Paul McCart­ney had been killed, but re­placed by the other Fabs with a looka­like. Among the clues was the Bee­tle’s num­ber­plate, LMW 281F; sup­posed to stand for ‘Linda McCart­ney Weeps, 28 IF’, Macca’s age IF he’d still been around. Hey, he was 27, but who cares? The Bee­tle is now in VW’s Wolfs­burg Mu­seum, where it’s claimed it was owned by John Len­non. That’s also false; it just be­longed to some­one who lived on Abbey Road. Re­ally, Volk­swa­gen?

A later Bee­tle 1302 from 1972… no cryp­tic num­ber­plate mes­sages here.

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