The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

25 February 2005

With the Beetles

Writer Paul Schilperoord, in the Dutch magazine The Engineer, is claiming that Dr. Ferdinand Porsche's contribution to the development of the Volkswagen is greatly exaggerated, or so states this thread at AutoWeek's message board.

As early as 1928, Josef Ganz was showing off a fixed-chassis prototype with rear-wheel drive and a rear-mounted engine, which by 1931 he was calling Maikäfer — "May beetle". Adolf Hitler caught a glimpse of Ganz' bug a couple of years later, decided that some sort of "people's car" would be worth doing, and assigned the development to Dr. Porsche, who then basically swiped the Ganz designs. Ganz, a Jew, had fled to Switzerland and presumably was in no position to complain.

A few KdF-Wagens dribbled out under the auspices of the Third Reich, but it wasn't until after WWII that Vee Dubs, and Porsche's own "ass-engined Nazi slot cars," in P. J. O'Rourke's immortal phrase, began to appear in quantity.

Then again, Porsche's biggest seller these days is a farging SUV, which is plenty revisionist enough for me already.

(Via Jalopnik.)

Posted at 6:01 PM to Driver's Seat

TrackBack: 11:34 AM, 1 March 2005
» Porsche History Lesson from Fast Cars
Porsche makes some of the finest fast cars in the world. Here's a footnote to the Volkswagen Beetle, widely attributed to Mr. Porsche....[read more]

Not to mention a roadster available with A/C.


Posted by: The Prop at 11:04 AM on 26 February 2005

I'd still like to find a 69 Bus. That design is no less revolutionary than the Beetle, and none of it is traceable to Ganz.

Posted by: Fûz at 6:08 PM on 27 February 2005

I'd like to see one of those again myself; I learned to drive in a '69 VW Bus, which is probably where I picked up my one vestige of patience.

Volkswagen, incidentally, seems to have killed off plans for a new retro-styled Microbus. More's the pity.

Posted by: CGHill at 6:19 PM on 27 February 2005