People's Car

Ferdinand Porsche      Beetle  1939         

Conceived as a ‘car for everyone’ in Germany, this limousine was promoted by the government of the Third Reich as the ‘people’s car’, which is the literal translation of the manufacturer’s name. Due to the Second World War, it was never delivered in larger quantities to the many families that had started to collect money with a coupon based system. However, as soon as the war was over, it became not only the most popular car in Germany, but soon the most sold car in the entire world, which it still is today. The shape tried to be aerodynamic, much in the spirit of the era. It became really outstanding only after many years, because the manufacturer stuck to that form language whereas competitors moved on. Somehow, the cuddly form with the big ‘eyes’, the headlights, evoked parental instincts in the owner. Technically, it was an exercise in frugality and practicality at the same time. It sported an air-cooled engine which made it famously reliable. As for the moniker, a New York Times journalist wrote about the new car after it was launched that it compared to a ‘little shiny bug’, and the nickname ‘beetle’ stuck.

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