The first Beetle: 1938-1953
The first Beetle: 1938-1953
In 1933, Adolf Hitler ordered Ferdinand Porsche to develop a people's car -- literally "volkswagen" in German. Porsche, who would go on to design the sports car that bears his name, produced a two-door car with an upright windshield and a distinctive round shape, powered by an air-cooled engine mounted in the rear. A few prototypes were developed before World War II, but mass-production did not begin until 1946. Performance was not a priority. The 34-horsepower engine required 27.5 seconds to reach 60 mph, and the car had a top speed of 71 mph.

Last updated November 02 2011: 5:49 AM ET
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