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.
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]