Probably everyone at some time or another has been exposed to a Volkswagen Beetle. The people's car was produced from 1938 until 2003. The car was originally known as the "Kafer", which is German for "beetle". In 1933, Adolf Hitler gave the order to Ferdinand Porsche to develop a "Volks-wagon, and production began in 1938. Yes, the Third Rich was responseable for the development of the Beetle. War broke out before large scale production could commence and manufacturing capacity was switched over to war production. The car was designed to be as simple as possible mechanically, so less could go wrong.
After WWII, this car ultimately became the longest running and most produced automobile of a single design with over 21 million produced. The Beetle was produced in a number of countries. In Britain, it was known as the Type 1 or by engine size 1100, 1200, 1300, 1500 or 1600.
The Beetle was a benchmark for American compact cars such as the Chevrolet Corvair, Chevrolet Vega and Ford Pinto. It is also considered a German equivalent of the Austin/Morris Mini. The Beetle also was voted the fourth most influential car of the twentieth century. The original Beetle was rear drive with an engine in the rear.
Show below is a version of the New Beetle, which was introduced in 1998. It is not the same car since it is based on the Volkswagon Rabbit and has front wheel drive. Strong public reaction to a concept car persuaded Volkswagon to produce the new Beetle. The New Beetle was designed by J. Mays and Freeman Thomas at the company's California design studio. The New Beetle is related to the original only in name and appearance.