History error


The British in 1946 could transport the Volkswagen plant to their island. Declassified intelligence materials explain why this did not happen.


The decision of the sub-committee "Intelligence Service" (British Intelligence Objektives Sub-Committee - BIOS) was military brief and categorical: "This car can not be recommended as an example of a first-class modern design, to be replicated by the British industry." So in 1947 they rated The Beetle, and later - the worldwide bestseller, published in more than 20 million copies! We flip through the yellowed pages of a declassified intelligence document that became available to find out why the British did not want to dismantle the Wolfsburg plant and transport it to their native land, having the full right of the winners.

So, on the instructions of the BIOS, several selected companies (a Ford subsidiary, as well as the Humber and Solex) dismantled the trophy beetles "under the bones" to conclude that the car is suitable for driving along London streets and Welsh lanes . And the deeper they became acquainted with the Volkswagen, the greater doubts reflected on the faces of experts. “The engine of the car is too noisy and does not work smoothly, its power is not impressive. Brakes are weak, cornering tends to oversteer … A stiffer suspension leaves a bad impression on both flat and bumpy roads and does not give passengers a sense of comfort … ” The trunk under the hood threw experts in complete bewilderment, “where a normal car should have an engine”. Really in the "Beetle" did not find anything positive? Well why. Please: "Progressive should be recognized as an independent suspension of all wheels and low fuel consumption." And now we come to the final verdict: "As a car for the armed forces is undoubtedly acceptable." The Subcommittee couldn’t imagine driving a Volkswagen peaceful English gentleman … “In the end, the car looks just disgusting!” Was the last sentence of the report.

The Wolfsburg plant was ultimately lucky: if it had been a few kilometers to the east, it would have befell the fate of the Horch and Audi enterprises in Zwickau dismantled in August 1945. Or the Beetle would share the fate of the Opel Blitz truck, whose production equipment was taken from Brandenburg and lost forever in the vast expanses of Siberia.

The Germans, however, believed in their "people's dream" and were not mistaken. Moreover, the winners from the foggy island decided to revive the production of civil vehicles in Wolfsburg. The 29-year-old Major Ivon Hirst took up the case (in the photo on the left he is driving a “hero of the day”), and today we can judge how talented manager he turned out to be. So, with its second birth on October 8, 1949, when the management of the concern was transferred to the German government, Volkswagen owes it to the British. (Hirst himself died recently, in the spring of 2000; he was 84 years old.) One of the former leaders of the concern, Karl Khan, once remarked: “Fau-Ve is the most successful automobile company ever founded … by the British.” Who would argue: ironically, the current super giant of the global automotive industry, Volkswagen, paternally takes care of the British pride - Rolls-Royce and Bentley.

It was such a "Beetle" - all-wheel drive, they wanted to use 877 models in the British army. When the project was buried, the sample became the official machine of A. Hirst, and is now stored in the museum of the company.

For a long time (from the clearing of rubble after the bombing), platforms with Zhuk units served as internal transport in Wolfsburg. They were built until the 70s.

This convertible model 15A received numbers on October 30, 1949, and faithfully served the owner until 1977. Then it was owned by the oldtimer seller O. Weimann, who in 1984 handed over the car to the museum of the company. Convertibles based on the "Beetle" produced over 330 thousand units.

Type 18A: police cars with a doorless body built 482; later they were equipped with doors. This model until 1981 belonged to E. Krause, the head of the Volkswagen-Intermerikan branch, and since 1983 - in the museum of the company.