Belt up and enjoy this 365-day ride as you cruise past the most momentous motoring events in history. Packed with fascinating facts about races, motorists and the history of the mighty engine, this is a must-visit web site for any car enthusiast.
A chronological day-by-day history of Volkswagen.
The British Royal family took delivery of its first motor vehicle, a Daimler Mail Phaeton. There is no proof that King Edward VII or King George V could drive, but later monarchs King Edward VIII and King George VI could. The Queen's State and private motor cars are housed in the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace. For official duties - providing transport for State and other visitors as well as The Queen herself - there are eight State limousines, consisting of two Bentleys, three Rolls-Royces and three Daimlers. Other vehicles in the Royal fleet include a number of Volkswagen 'people carriers'. State cars are painted in Royal claret livery. The Bentleys and Rolls-Royces uniquely do not have registration number plates, since they are State vehicles.n technical terms, the special Bentley cars have a monocoque construction, enabling greater use to be made of the vehicle's interior space. This means the transmission tunnel runs underneath the floor, without encroaching on the cabin. Technical details show how different the Bentleys are to standard cars. The Bentleys are 6.22 metres long, nearly a metre longer than a standard Bentley Arnage. At 3.84 metres, its wheelbase is 1.3 metres longer than that of an average family sized saloon. The engine drives a standard, four-speed GM 4L80-E gearbox, which directs power through up-rated driveshafts to the rear wheels. Although they have a powerful engine, the Bentleys, like any other cars, are subject to normal speed restrictions. On processional occasions, they travel at around 9 miles per hour, and sometimes down to 3 miles per hour. The rear doors are hinged at the back and are designed to allow The Queen to stand up straight before stepping down to the ground. The rear seats are upholstered in Hield Lambswool Sateen cloth whilst all remaining upholstery is in light grey Connolly hide. Carpets are pale blue in the rear and dark blue in the front.
1900 Daimler 6hp SandringhamShow Article
A motor car "Horsepower Tax" was imposed in Great Britain, based on the RAC formula, at the following rates: to 6½ HP 2 guineas 12 HP 3 guineas 16 HP 4 guineas 26 HP 6 guineas 33 HP 8 guineas 40 HP 10 guineas 60 HP 21 pounds The Royal Automobile Club formula for horsepower assumed a mean effective pressure of 90 pounds per square inch, a mechanical efficiency of 75% and a mean piston speed of 1000 feet per minute. Their calculation uses bore area times number of cylinders over a constant. The system introduced a somewhat progressive way of taxing higher-value cars more than low-cost ones but was also introduced to protect the domestic British motor industry from foreign imports, especially the Ford Model T. Henry Ford's mass production methods meant that the Model T was competitively priced with British-built cars despite being a much larger, more durable and more powerful car than any similarly-priced model. In 1912 Ford opened a factory to build Model Ts in Manchester, to circumvent the import tariffs that, up to that point, had increased the effective price of foreign cars. Under the RAC's formula the Model T was now a 22 'tax horsepower' car, making it much more expensive to run than its British-built rivals on sale for the same price. At first the RAC rating was usually representative of the car's actual (brake) horsepower, but as engine design and technology progressed in the 1920s and 1930s these two figures began to drift apart, with an engine making much more power than its RAC rating (and the car's model name) suggested: by 1924 the Austin Seven's 747cc engine produced 10.5 brake horsepower, 50% more than its official rating. It was common for the name of a model to include both its RAC tax horsepower and its actual power output, such as the Wolseley 14/60 and the Alvis 12/70 of 1938 - note that the Alvis's engine makes more brake horsepower than the Wolseley but makes less power under the RAC system and thus would be taxed less. By 1948 the Standard Flying Twelve, a typical mid-size saloon, produced 44 bhp from a 1.6-litre engine or nearly four times as much horsepower as the RAC system suggested, even though manufacturers were still restricted to making slow-revving engines with narrow bores and long strokes to keep abreast of the tax structure. To minimise tax ratings British designers developed engines of a given swept volume (capacity) with very long stroke and low piston surface area. Another effect was the multiplicity of models: Sevens, Eights, Nines, Tens, Elevens, Twelves, Fourteens, Sixteens etc. each to fit with a taxation class. Larger more lightly stressed engines may have been equally economical to run and, in less variety, produced much more economically. The system discouraged manufacturers from switching to more fuel-efficient overhead valve engines as these generally required larger bores, while the established sidevalve layout could easily use very narrow bores. Despite OHV engines having significant benefits in economy, refinement and performance the RAC system often made these engines more expensive to run because it placed them in a higher tax class than sidevalve engines of identical power output. British cars and cars in other countries applying the same approach to automobile taxation continued to feature long thin cylinders even in the 1950s and 1960s, after taxation had ceased to be based on piston diameters, partly because limited funds meant that investment in new models often involved new bodies while under the hood/bonnet engines lurked from earlier decades with only minor upgrades such as (typically) higher compression ratios as higher octane fuels slowly returned to European service stations. The emphasis on long strokes, combined with the nature of British roads in the pre-motorway era, meant that British engines tended to deliver strong low- and mid-range torque for their size but have low maximum speeds. The long stroke also meant that piston speeds and the load on the big end bearings became excessive at higher cruising speeds. Many smaller British cars did not cope well with sustained cruising at 60 mph or more, which led to reliability problems when the vehicles were exported to other markets, especially the United States. Cars such as the Austin A40, the Morris Minor and the Hillman Minx all achieved notable sales in the USA in the late 1940s (after the RAC horsepower formula had been withdrawn but when car designs were still influenced by it) until the short service life of the engines when asked to routinely drive long distances at freeway speeds became clear. Other imports, notably the Volkswagen Beetle, which originated in countries with different fiscal horsepower rules and existing high speed road networks, proved more reliable and achieved much greater success. The distortive effects on engine design were seen to reduce the saleability of British vehicles in export markets. While the system had protected the home market from the import of large-engined low-priced (because produced in such high volumes) American vehicles the need for roomy generously proportioned cars for export was now paramount and the British government abandoned the tax horsepower system with effect from 1 January 1947 replacing it at first with a tax on cubic capacity, which was in turn replaced by a flat tax applying from 1 January 1948.Show Article
Ettore Bugatti first proposed designing the super car that would eventually emerge as the Bugatti Type 41 Royale. Eventually called the "car of kings," Bugattis were huge hand-crafted luxury cars that were affordable only for Europe's elite. The death of Ettore Bugatti in 1947 proved to be the end for the marque, as the company struggled financially after his death. It released one last model in the 1950s before eventually being purchased for its airplane-parts business. Volkswagen revived the brand in the late 1990s.
Ettore BugattiShow Article
Bentley Motors was established in London, England by W. O. Bentley and his brother H. M. Bentley. W.O. started dreaming about building his own cars bearing his name shortly after the brothers opened the UK agency for the French DFP (Doriot, Flandrin & Parant) cars in 1912. Soon, he fulfilled his dream and founded what would become one of the most desirable luxury car brands in the world. After the victory of Bentley 3 Litre Sport at the 24 Hours of Le Mans of 1924, W. O. Bentley’s cars became a major hit among the wealthy British motorists, however, his company was faced with serious financial difficulties as early as 1925. Woolf Barnato, a fan of Bentley cars and a member of the so-called Bentley Boys helped the company with financing which, however, gave him control over the company and made W.O. an employee. The new models that were introduced under Barnato’s chairmanship repeated the success of the Bentley 3 Litre Sport and won Le Mans in 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930. Despite that, the company was severely hit by the Stock Market Crash of 1929 that was followed by the Great Depression which dramatically reduced the demand for luxury cars such as Bentley. In 1931, an agreement was reached about takeover of Bentley by Napier & Son, however, Napier was outbid by the British Central Equitable Trust. Thus the company was taken over by Rolls-Royce that was behind the British Central Equitable Trust. The real identity of the new Bentley owner, however, was revealed only after the deal was closed. Rolls-Royce formed a new company, while the production was moved to Rolls-Royce’s production facilities in Derby. Bentley factory in Cricklewood was closed. W. O. Bentley who was at the time of Rolls Royce’s takeover still working and designing Bentleys left the company as soon as his contract has expired in 1935. He joined Lagonda where he helped create a line of cars which were “Bentleys in all but name”.By the end of the 20th century, Bentley and its parent company changed owners twice. After the financial collapse of Rolls-Royce as a result of its development of the RB211 jet engine, the company was nationalised by the British government. The Rolls Royce car division was made an independent business – Rolls-Royce Motors Limited which was acquired by Vickers plc in 1980. Meanwhile, Bentley sales dropped alarmingly low. But under Vickers, Bentley restored its former reputation as a luxury sports car and the sales started to rise. The so-called Bentley renaissance, however, started only in 1998 when Rolls-Royce Motors Limited was acquired by the Volkswagen Group. Bentley cars are sold via franchised dealers worldwide.Most Bentley cars are assembled at the Crewe factory, but a small number of Continental Flying Spurs are assembled at the factory in Dresden, Germany and bodies for the Continental are produced in Zwickau, Germany.
The Bentley badge and hood ornamentShow Article
The first DKW production automobile was completed. The company and brand is one of the ancestor companies of the modern day Audi company as one of the four companies that formed Auto-Union. In 1916, Danish engineer Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen founded a factory in Zschopau, Saxony, Germany, to produce steam fittings. That year he attempted to produce a steam-driven car, called the DKW. Although unsuccessful, he made a two-stroke toy engine in 1919, called Des Knaben Wunsch – "the boy's wish". He put a slightly modified version of this engine into a motorcycle and called it Das Kleine Wunder – "the little wonder" the initials from this becoming the DKW brand: by the late 1920s, DKW was the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer. In 1932, DKW merged with Audi, Horch and Wanderer to form Auto Union. After World War II, DKW moved to West Germany, with the original factory becoming MZ. Auto Union came under Daimler-Benz ownership in 1957 and was purchased by the Volkswagen Group in 1964. The last German-built DKW car was the F102, which ceased production in 1966. Its successor, the four-stroke F103, was marketed under the Audi brand, another Auto Union marque. DKW-badged cars continued to be built under license in Brazil and Argentina until 1967 and 1969 respectively. The DKW trademark is currently owned by Auto Union GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of Audi AG which also owns the rights to other historical trademarks and intellectual property of the Auto Union combine.
Dr Ferdinand Porsche founded Porsche KG, a company of "designers and consultants for land, sea, and air vehicles". One of the first assignments was from the German government to design a car for the people, that is a "Volkswagen". This resulted in the Volkswagen Beetle, one of the most successful car designs of all time. The Porsche 64 was developed in 1939 using many components from the Beetle.
Dr Ferdinand PorscheShow Article
The Rover prototype called Scarab was displayed at the 1931 London Motor Show. Scarab was rear-engined and air-cooled, and designed to sell at £85, but in the end, did not go into production. It attracted the interest of Ferdinand Porsche, however, who came over to England to look at the prototype - before going on to design the Volkswagen Beetle. The 15/18 Lanchester was hailed as one of the most interesting cars at the Olympia Motor Show. Priced at £565, this 2504 cc six kept a lot of the Lanchester innovations along with Daimler's fluid flywheel. It was so appealing that the Duke of York took delivery of one in 1932. The same type of car was the first ever winner of the RAC Rally, a 1000 mile touring event ending in Torquay.
Rover ScarabShow Article
Ferdinand Porsche signed a contract with the Automobile Manufacturers Association of Germany (RDA) to build three prototype "people's cars" over a 10-month period. The contract was a direct result of Hitler's personal request to Porsche that he design such a car. The result, of course, was the Volkswagen. But it would take years for Porsche to accomplish his dream of bringing a small, affordable car to the market. In 1899, at the age of 24, Ferdinand Porsche became one of Europe's most famous automotive engineers with the introduction of his Porsche-Lohner electric car. It was his first offering to the world, and it was characteristically ingenious. Ferdinand Porsche is the automotive world's answer to "the Natural"; his designs have always been incomprehensibly ahead of their times. At a time when all automotive designers focused all their energies on mustering speed, Porsche's car came with two separate braking systems, one mechanical and one electric, while still supplying competitive speed. For the next 35 years Porsche would strive, often under the auspices of Daimler Motors, to produce the smallest, fastest cars in the world. So recognizable was Porsche's genius that his quest was sadly hindered by outside interference. Consider that in 1932, while first working on the design for a "Volksauto" for Zundapp Motors in Germany, Porsche was approached by a group of Russian engineers with a remarkable offer. Having studied his work, the Russian engineers had deemed Porsche the greatest automotive engineer, and as such offered to take him back to Russia to show him the state of their country's industry. Porsche didn't know what they wanted but, flattered by the invitation, he went along. He was received like royalty, an honored guest of the state. The offer from the Russians was inconceivable: they offered him the position of state designer of Russia, a position in charge of all automobile, tank, and electric vehicle production. Every one of his designs would be realized by the country's vast sources of material wealth. All he had to do was sign a contract. Porsche respectfully declined, but such was his prowess that only two years later Adolf Hitler approached Porsche with the project of designing a people's car for the state of Germany. Since Porsche’s dream was to produce a small and affordable car, he jumped at the offer. The Volkswagen prototype was completed in 1936. But war in Europe erupted before production could begin. Porsche was asked to supply tank designs, which he did, creating the Tiger, Ferdinand, and Mouse tanks for the German army. Hitler moved Porsche from Stuttgart to the remote Austrian town of Gmund, in order to keep him away from Allied bombing. At the end of the war the U.S. Army captured Porsche, interrogated him, and released him to his villa in Gmund. Then French officials arrested him for his participation in the war, and Porsche served a two-year sentence at the Renault estate in France. He was finally released in 1947, and he returned to Gmund. There he undertook, with his son Ferry, the project of building a small performance car with his own name. Meanwhile, the Volkswagen had gone into mass production. The first Porsche, the 356, was a convertible sports car version of the Volkswagen with much improved suspension.
Ferdinand Porsche in front of a VW prototype W30, 1937Show Article
The Reich Government decided to build a separate plant for the new Volkswagen, the Volkswagenwerk. The "Company for Preparation of Deutsche Volkswagen Ltd" was established in May 1937.Show Article
The first test-drives of the Volkswagen vehicle began, and employees drove the VW 3-series model over 800 kilometers a day, making any necessary repairs at night. After three months of vigorous testing, Porsche and his engineers concluded, in their final test verdict, that the Volkswagen "demonstrated characteristics which warrant further development." In 1938, the first Volkswagen in its final form was unveiled, a 38-series model that The New York Times mockingly referred to as a "Beetle". The ‘Beetle’ would serve as an instrument of Nazi propaganda to help a shattered nation’s economic recovery and would later be a symbol of 1960s counter-culture.
VW Beetle Type 1 (1949) interiorShow Article
The government of Germany--then under the control of Adolf Hitler of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party--formed a new state-owned automobile company, then known as Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH. Later that year, it was renamed simply Volkswagenwerk, or "The People's Car Company". The government allocated 480,000 reichmarks as start-up capital for the construction of a new factory, and on 26 May, 1938, Hitler laid the foundation stone in the Stadt des KdF-Wagens – renamed Wolfsburg in 1945, and still the home of Volkswagen today. After WWII, the factory found itself in the British occupied sector of Germany and was handed over to Major Ivan Hirst to run on behalf of the British military government. He persuaded the British Army to order 20,000 cars for its occupying personnel, effectively saving the company from ruin. The business, now renamed just Volkswagen was offered to various US and British car companies, who all rejected it. So in 1949, the company was made into a trust controlled by the West German government, and administered by the state of Lower Saxony, which still owns 20%. The German federal government floated its stake on the German stockmarket in 1960. The company went from strength to strength, becoming a potent symbol of German post-war regeneration. It suffered problems in the 1970s, but came back stronger to become the world’s second-largest vehicle-maker, behind Toyota.
1937 Volkswagen prototypeShow Article
Ferdinand Porsche was issued a United States patent for his torsion-bar suspension. Most of the credit for the wide acceptance of torsion bars in Europe goes to Dr. Ferdinand Porsche who made it standard on most of his cars, beginning with the 1933 Volkswagen prototypes. By 1954, 21 makes of European cars were equipped with torsion bars. By contrast, in America, only Chrysler went the torsion bar route on its large-sized cars. Despite its excellent ride qualities, high cost has limited its acceptance in this country.Show Article
Adolf Hitler laid the cornerstone for the Volkswagen factory in Fallersleben, Germany. He gave a speech, in which he named the car Kraft durch Freude-Wagen ("Strength Through Joy Car", usually abbreviated to KdF-Wagen). The name refers to Kraft durch Freude ('Strength Through Joy'), the official leisure organization of the Third Reich. The model village of Stadt des KdF-Wagens was created near Fallersleben in Lower Saxony in 1938 for the benefit of the workers at the newly built factory. The factory had only produced a handful of cars by the start of the war in 1939; the first volume-produced versions of the car's chassis were military vehicles, the Type 82 Kübelwagen (approximately 52,000 built) and the amphibious Type 166 Schwimmwagen (about 14,000 built). The first Beetles were produced on a small scale in 1941.
Hitler's KDF 'people's car' projectShow Article
Czech automotive pioneer, co-founder of what is now Škoda Auto, Václav Klement (70), died. The story of founding the Laurin & Klement Company , which would become Škoda Auto started on the day when Klement bought a bicycle made by the German company Seidel & Naumann. Upon finding a problem with the bicycle Klement sent a letter in the Czech language to the company, requesting repair. The company replied that they would deal with the request only if the letter were written in a "comprehensible" language. Klement was so indignant that he decided together with Václav Laurin, to start repairing bicycles themselves. Later in 1895, propelled by Klement's modesty, excellent people skills and business acumen, together with Laurin's technical expertise, the two decided to found the Laurin & Klement Company, producing their own bicycles. These were known as Slavia bicycles. The company took off, and soon had 12 employees, later going up to 40. In 1899 they went on to produce motorcycles which were an immediate success not only at home but also abroad, even in sport competitions. In 1902 Laurin & Klement motorcycles were successful in the famous Paris - Vienna race. This race covered 1430 km and the only motorcycles that made it to the finish line without any breakdowns in 31 hours were the Laurin & Klement motorcycles. Soon these motorcycles became so successful that the company decided to stop bicycle production in order to devote itself fully to motorcycles. In 1903 the company had already about 200 employees producing around 2000 motorcycles annually. In 1905 the company started making cars and in 1907 it expanded, registered on the stock exchange, and stopped motorcycle production. In 1925 the Laurin & Klement Company joined the Pilsner Škoda Concern and the name of the factory was changed to Laurin & Klement - Škoda, later only Škoda which produced hugely successful automobiles and became one of the great brand names, recognized worldwide, in the history of the Czech Republic. Václav Laurin kept the position of technical director. In 1991 the Škoda Factory became a member of the Volkswagen Group.
Václav KlementShow Article
Powell Crosley, who in his own words had 50 jobs in 50 years, produced America's first miniature or "bantam" car. Mass production of the car was stalled until after World War II, but, in 1948, he produced 28,000 cars. The Crosley was a foot shorter and a 100 pounds lighter than the pre-war Volkswagen Beetle and far smaller than anything offered by American manufacturers. Unfortunately Crosley was never able to lower the price of his cars to his intended sticker of $500. His $800 price tag wasn't low enough to convince consumers when they could by a full-size car for a few hundred dollars more. The Crosley Car Company failed badly and Crossley sold his interest in the venture.
The 1,000,000th Volkswagen Kubelwagen was produced. The "Tub" car, previously mostly used for rail, industrial or agricultural hopper cars) was a light military vehicle designed by Ferdinand Porsche and built by Volkswagen during World War II for use by the German military (both Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS). Based heavily on the Volkswagen Beetle, it was prototyped as the Type 62, but eventually became known internally as the Type 82. Kübelwagen is an abbreviation of Kübelsitzwagen, meaning "bucket-seat car" because all German light military vehicles that had no doors were fitted with bucket seats to prevent passengers from falling out. The first VW test vehicles had no doors and were therefore fitted with bucket seats, so acquiring the name VW Kübelsitzwagen that was later shortened to Kübelwagen. Mercedes, Opel and Tatra also built Kübel(sitz)wagens. With its rolling chassis and mechanics built at Stadt des KdF-Wagens (renamed Wolfsburg after 1945), and its body built by US-owned firm Ambi Budd Presswerke in Berlin, the Kübelwagen was for the Germans what the Jeep and GAZ-67 were for the Allies.
The Kübelwagen on the Eastern Front in 1943Show Article
Under the threat of Allied bombing during World War II, the German car manufacturer Volkswagen halted the production of the “Beetle”. Ten years earlier, the renowned automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche had signed a contract with Germany’s Third Reich to develop a prototype of a small, affordable “people’s car.” During the war years, the German army’s need for a lightweight utility vehicle took precedence over the production of affordable passenger cars. The result was the Type 62 Kubelwagen, a convertible vehicle with a modified Beetle chassis, four doors and 18-inch wheels (compared with the Beetle’s 16-inch ones) to give it better ground clearance. Volkswagen (under British control) began turning out Beetles again in December 1945. By 1949, the company (now called Volkswagen GmbH) was back in German hands, and in 1972 the Beetle passed the iconic Ford Model T as the top-selling car in history.
Ferdinand Porsche was arrested by U.S. military officials for his pro-Nazi activities, and was sent to France where he was held for two years before being released. Meanwhile, the Allies approved the continuation of the original Volkswagen program, and Volkswagen went on to become a highly successful automobile company. As his brainchild Volkswagen grew, Porsche himself returned to sports car design and construction, completing the successful Porsche 356 in 1948 with his son Ferry Porsche. In 1951, Ferdinand Porsche suffered a stroke and died, but Ferry continued his father's impressive automotive legacy, achieving a sports car masterpiece with the introduction of the legendary Porsche 911 in 1963.
Ferdinand PorscheShow Article
The 20,000th Volkswagen was produced.Show Article
Dr Ferdinand "Ferry" Porsche test-drove the hand-built aluminium prototype two-seater Porsche roadster, proudly bearing the chassis number 356-001, in Gmünd, Austria. In the spring of 1947 Ferry Porsche first expressed his idea to build a sports car using Volkswagen components which, initially code-named the "VW-Sports", received the construction number 356. The vision of the Porsche Junior Director was to "build the kind of sports car I liked myself". Ferry Porsche's engineers, at any rate, were fascinated by the idea of building such a sports car, completing a road-going chassis in February 1948 destined to take up a roadster body made of aluminium. The flat-four power unit, together with the gearbox, suspension, springs and steering, all came from Volkswagen. Weighing just 585 kg or 1,290 lb, this 35-bhp mid-engined roadster had a top speed of 135 km/h or 84 mph. Production of the first "regular" Porsche Type 356/2 coupés and cabriolets started in Gmünd in the second half of 1948 - and like Porsche 356 No 1, Type 356/2 also featured an aluminium body designed and constructed by Erwin Komenda, the Director of Body Development at Porsche. But unlike the No 1 mid-engine prototype, the horizontally-opposed power unit in Type 356/2 was fitted at the back in order to provide luggage space behind the front seats. When an investor in Zurich, Rupprecht von Senger, advanced money for a small production series and received a contract as the importer for Switzerland in return, Porsche once again had access to the VW parts and body panels the company needed so urgently. The contract Ferry Porsche concluded with the Managing Director of Volkswagenwerk on 17 September 1948 on the supply of VW parts and the use of VW's distribution network clearly shows that Ferry Porsche was not only an outstanding engineer, but also a far-sighted businessman and entrepreneur: Ferry Porsche and Nordhoff agreed that VW was to pay a licence fee to Porsche for every Beetle built, since, after all, the car had been developed by Porsche before the war. The second important decision was the foundation of Porsche-Salzburg Ges.m.b.H. as a central office for the management of Volkswagen imports, sales and customer service in Austria. These agreements with Volkswagenwerk, already a major manufacturer at the time, gave Porsche the security the young company needed, particularly in financial terms. And it set the foundation for the ongoing development of Porsche KG as a manufacturer of sports cars.
Porsche 356/1Show Article
The first Volkswagen Beetle, designed by Ferdinand Porsche at the request of Adolf Hitler, arrived in the US from Germany. The idea had been for a small saloon that could carry a German family of five flat-out at 100kph along the country’s new autobahns. It was to have cost 990 Reich Marks, which represented 31 weeks’ pay for the average German worker in 1936, making it cheaper than the £100 Fords being made in England (31 weeks pay for the average British worker in 1936 was about £100). To buy one, however, members of the Volk had to join a special savings scheme run by the organisation KdF (Kraft durch Freude, or Strength through Joy); from 1938, the Volkswagen was officially named the KdF Wagen. There was little joy, though, in rival engineering camps. The Czech car company, Tatra, claimed that Porsche had infringed several design patents, notably those by Hans Ledwinka, an Austrian engineer much admired by Hitler. Tatra took legal action, but Hitler invaded Austria, seized its factory and banned Ledwinka’s VW-like prototypes from public show. In 1961, however, VW made a substantial payment to Tatra through an out-of-court settlement. By then, though, Volkswagen had conquered the world. In 1945, factory and car had been saved by Major Ivan Hirst, a British army officer and engineer. Hirst had witnessed first hand the sheer quality of VW-based military vehicles during the war and believed that, once in production, a peacetime Beetle would have an appeal well beyond Germany. Sold to the United States in a brilliant ‘Think Small’ advertising campaign launched in 1959 and devised by the New York agency Doyle Dane Bernbach, the Beetle became the biggest selling foreign-made car in America throughout the ’60s. It went on to sell in various guises, as a soft-top, a sportscar – the svelte, if unhurried VW Karmann Ghia – and as an interminably fashionable Camper van. A ‘New Beetle’, based on the floorplan of the VW Golf, the Beetle’s replacement, went on sale in 1998, although this was always something of a mechanical dress-up doll rather than the real thing. These days, and despite global recession, there is a lot more money in the world, so the elemental nature of the honest-to-goodness Beetle will seem a little too severe for those who dream of buying, let’s say, a Bentley. But, in an almost comic turn of events, Volkswagen now owns Bentley. However impressive, an elite Bentley can never be a People’s Car. Few cars since have ever really lived up to the name, one devised by a brilliant Bohemian engineer and a brutal Austrian-born German dictator seventy years and more than twenty million air-cooled cars ago.
Volkswagen BeetleShow Article
The first car to carry the Porsche family name was introduced at the 19th International Automobile Show in Geneva, Switzerland. After serving a two-year prison sentence for his participation as an engineer in Hitler's regime, Ferdinand Porsche and his son Ferry went to work on a car that would carry the Porsche name. The Porsche prototype, named the 356, was a sports-car version of the Volkswagen that Porsche had designed at Hitler's request. Its rounded lines, rear engine, and open two-seater design set the standard for all Porsches to come. The classic design and the incomparable engineering of Porsche cars attracted loyal customers at a record pace. In 1950, Ferdinand Porsche celebrated his 75th birthday. He had risen to fame as an engineer for Mercedes; he had developed the Volkswagen; and he had finally put his name to his own automobile. One year later, Porsche suffered a stroke from which he would never recover. He died in January of 1952. Ferry Porsche, Ferdinand's son, built the Porsche Company into the empire it is today.
Porsche 356Show Article
Allied military authorities relinquished control of the former Nazi regime's assets, including the Volkswagen factory - marking the final transition back to everyday life. At the end of World War II, Germany's Volkswagen factory was in shambles, along with much of Europe. The machines stood silent, the assembly lines lay still, and rubble littered the hallways. It was in this state that the British occupation forces took control of the Volkswagen factory and the town of Wolfsburg. The next four years were spent in an attempt to return to normal life, and the wheels of industry eventually began to turn in the old Volkswagen factory. With Heinrich Nordhoff as managing director and the German economy rejuvenated by currency reform, Volkswagen had become the largest car producer in Europe by 1949.Show Article
The British military government placed the trusteeship of the Volkswagen factory in German hands. Acting on the orders of the British military government, Major Ivan Hirst ensured that civilian production of Volkswagen saloons could be started in December 1945, a move akin to the British founding the factory a second time. Initially aimed mainly at the occupational forces, Volkswagen cars built in Wolfsburg soon attracted interest among private customers and people abroad.Show Article
The first Volkswagen Type 2, later named the Transporter, rolled off the assembly line. Only two models were offered: the Kombi (with two side windows and middle and rear seats that were easily removable by one person), and the Commercial. The Microbus was added in May 1950, joined by the Deluxe Microbus in June 1951. In all 9,541 Type 2s were produced in their first year of production. An ambulance model was added in December 1951 which repositioned the fuel tank in front of the transaxle, put the spare tire behind the front seat, and added a "tailgate"-style rear door.These features became standard on the Type 2 from 1955 to 1967. 11,805 Type 2s were built in the 1951 model year.These were joined by a single-cab pickup in August 1952, and it changed the least of the Type 2s until all were heavily modified in 1968. Unlike other rear engine Volkswagens, which evolved constantly over time but never saw the introduction of all-new models, the Transporter not only evolved, but was completely revised periodically with variations retrospectively referred to as versions "T1" to "T5" (a nomenclature only invented after the introduction of the front-drive T4 which replaced the T25). However, only generations T1 to T3 (or T25 as it is still called in Ireland and Great Britain) can be seen as directly related to the Beetle (see below for details). The Type 2, along with the 1947 Citroën H Van, are among the first 'forward control' vans in which the driver was placed above the front roadwheels. They started a trend in Europe, where the 1952 GM Bedford CA, 1958 RAF-977, 1959 Renault Estafette, 1960 BMC Morris J4, and 1960 Commer FC also used the concept. In the United States, the Corvair-based Chevrolet Corvan cargo van and Greenbrier passenger van went so far as to copy the Type 2's rear-engine layout, using the Corvair's horizontally opposed, air-cooled engine for power. Except for the Greenbrier and various 1950s–70s Fiat minivans, the Type 2 remained unique in being rear-engined. This was a disadvantage for the early "barndoor" Panel Vans, which could not easily be loaded from the rear because the engine cover intruded on interior space, but generally advantageous in traction and interior noise. Like the Beetle, the van has received numerous nicknames worldwide, including the "microbus", "minibus", and, because of its popularity during the counterculture movement of the 1960s, Hippie van/wagon, and still remains iconic for many hippies today. Brazil contained the last factory in the world that produced the T2. Production in Brazil ceased on December 31, 2013, due to the introduction of more stringent safety regulations in the country. This marks the end of an era with the rear-engine Volkswagens manufactured (after the 2002 termination of its T3 successor in South Africa), which originated in 1935 with their Type 1 prototypes.
Volkswagen Type 2Show Article
Volkswagen, maker of the Beetle automobile, expanded its product offerings to include a microbus. Known officially as the Volkswagen Type 2 (the Beetle was the Type 1) or the Transporter, the bus was a favourite mode of transportation for hippies in the U.S. during the 1960's and became an icon of the American counterculture movement. The VW bus was reportedly the brainchild of Dutch businessman Ben Pon, an importer of Beetles to the Netherlands, who saw a market for a small bus and in 1947 sketched out his concept. Volkswagen engineers further developed the idea and on this day, the vehicle, with its boxy, utilitarian shape and rear engine, went into production.
Volkswagen Type 2Show Article
The Volkswagen was officially introduced into the United States as New York City imported car dealer Max Hoffman unveiled his first shipment of 20 cars in his showroom at 487 Park Avenue.Show Article
Ferdinand Porsche, the legendary Austrian-German automotive engineer, died in Stuttgart, Germany aged 75. In 1898, he was employed by Lohner, a manufacturer of electric cars and, at the age of 23, he designed the Lohner-Porsche. This car was exhibited at the most prestigious car exhibition of the time, L'Exposition Universelle De Paris in 1900. Porsche won the opportunity to design another prototype, a four wheel drive with an electrical motor in each wheel. During the next 25 years, he worked for many different companies. One of his most important achievements was the design of a road train used in the First World War. Porsche joined Daimler Germany in 1923. In 1926, Daimler merged with Benz, providing the opportunity for Porsche to work on the Mercedes S and SSK projects. As well as race cars, he designed a diesel powered truck and a popular automobile. He opened his own engineering office in Stuttgart in 1930. In 1934, the order from Hitler to design and build the first "peoples car" was received. Porsche designed the Volkswagen Beetle, as well as many military vehicles used by the Nazis during World War II. After the war, Porsche spent twenty months in a French prison, and his son took control of the business. Dr. Porsche (he received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Stuttgart) was certainly the most prolific automotive designer of first half of the 20th century.
Ferdinand PorscheShow Article
Volkswagen adopted an oval rear window for its standard sedan, replacing the original split rear window. The Volkswagen Transporter added a rear bumper as standard equipment.
Inauguration of SEAT’s Zona Franca plant, Barcelona, Spain. Following SEAT's acquisition by the German automotive giant Volkswagen Group, the plant no longer produces actual cars, but is instead now solely used as a press shop, stamping out metal body panels. It currently employs 1,269 people.
SEAT’s Zona Franca plantShow Article
The 500,000th Volkswagen was produced.Show Article
The 100,000th Volkswagen Transporter was produced.Show Article
Although it had been using the name for years, Volkswagenwerk G.M.B.H finally registered Volkswagen as a trademark.Show Article
Volkswagen of America, Inc. was established in Engelwood, New Jersey, as a sales division for the German car company. 1955 was a banner year for Volkswagen as the company produced its 1,000,000th car and exceeded, for the first time, the production benchmark of 1,000 cars per day on average. 1955 also saw the introduction of the Karmann Ghia Coupe, a joint venture between Volkswagen and Karmann. The sporty Karmann Ghia enjoyed great success in the United States. It wasn't until almost a decade after the formation of Volkswagen of America, that Volkswagen provided serious competition for Detroit's Big Three. The establishment of an American sales group paved the way for the success of the VW bug in America. By the mid-1960s, the VW Bug had almost single-handedly ended the years of "virtual monopoly" that Detroit manufacturers had previously enjoyed.Show Article
Volkswagen introduced the Karmann-Ghia coupe at the Kasino Hotel in Westfalia, Germany. The car's sleek lines and hand craftsmanship attracted the attention Volkswagen had hoped for. Nevertheless, as sporty as the Karmann-Ghia looked, it suffered from its 36 hp flat four engine in the area of power. Still, the Karmann-Ghia sold 10,000 units in its first full production year, and with the release of the convertible in 1958, production reached 18,000 units for one year. Sales climbed steadily through the 1960s, peaking at 33,000 cars per year.
Karmann-Ghia coupeShow Article
The 1,000,000th Volkswagen, a standard Beetle painted gold to commemorate the occasion, was produced. Although designed in the 1930s, the Beetle was only produced in significant numbers from 1945 on (mass production had been put on hold during the Second World War) when the model was internally designated the Volkswagen Type 1, and marketed simply as the Volkswagen (or "People's Car"). Later models were designated Volkswagen 1200, 1300, 1500, 1302 or 1303, the former three indicating engine displacement, the latter two derived from the type number. The model became widely known in its home country as the Käfer (German for "beetle") and was later marketed as such in Germany, and as the Volkswagen in other countries. For example, in France it was known as the Coccinelle (French for ladybug). The original 25 hp Beetle was designed for a top speed around 100 km/h (62 mph), which would be a viable speed on the Reichsautobahn system. As Autobahn speeds increased in the postwar years, its output was boosted to 36, then 40 hp, the configuration that lasted through 1966 and became the "classic" Volkswagen motor. The Beetle ultimately gave rise to variants, including the Karmann Ghia and Type 2. The Beetle marked a significant trend, led by Volkswagen, Fiat, and Renault, whereby the rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout increased from 2.6 percent of continental Western Europe's car production in 1946 to 26.6 percent in 1956. The 1948 Citroën 2CV and other European models marked a later trend to front-wheel drive in the European small car market, a trend that would come to dominate that market. In 1974, Volkswagen's own front-wheel drive Golf model succeeded the Beetle. In 1994, Volkswagen unveiled the Concept One, a "retro"-themed concept car with a resemblance to the original Beetle, and in 1998 introduced the "New Beetle", built on the contemporary Golf platform with styling recalling the original Type 1. In the 1999 Car of the Century competition, to determine the world's most influential car in the 20th century, the Type 1 came fourth, after the Ford Model T, the Mini, and the Citroën DS.
One millionth VWShow Article
After the sales of Volkswagen on the US market began increasing by leaps and bounds, "Volkswagen of America, Inc." was formed.Show Article
Dr Heinz Hordhoff of Volkswagen announced that his company has dropped its plans to assemble cars at the former Studebaker factory in New Brunswick, New Jersey, US.Show Article
The Renault Dauphine, designed mostly by Fernand Picard, was introduced at Le Palias de Chaillot in Paris, France. The rear-engined economy car was manufactured in a single body style – a three-box, four-door saloon – as the successor to the Renault 4CV; more than two million units were sold worldwide during its production run from 1956 until 1967. Along with such cars as the Volkswagen Beetle, Morris Minor, Mini and Fiat 500, the Dauphine pioneered the modern European economy car. Renault marketed variants of the Dauphine, including a sport model, theGordini, a luxury version, the Ondine, the 1093 factory racing model, and the Caravelle/Floride, a Dauphine-based two-door coupé and two-door convertible.
Renault DauphineShow Article
The first Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia convertible was produced. Coachbuilder Karmann came up with the idea of producing a new Beetle-based coupe. The new small Volkswagen had a wonderfully simple and adaptable floorpan, and the German specialist realised that it would be comparatively easy to built special bodies for it. Volkswagen, of course, jumped at the chance when it saw the pretty coupé body that Ghia designed for Karmann. It was a logical extension of the Volkswagen range, which was going from strength to strength throughout the 1950s - as Porsche had the more expensive end of the sports car market sewn-up with the 356, Volkswagen ensured that its Karmann-Ghia coupe and convertible would have more modest performance. The public certainly agree that the 1955 Karmann-Ghia was a very good thing, and this sleeker Beetle went on and sold well. However, it wasn't as quick as its lovely looks promised, for its underpinnings and drivetrain were pure Beetle - and that meant less than sparkling performance. In 1958, Volkswagen and Karmann came up with a convertible version. Extra strengthening made the convertible heavier and therefore slower than the coupé, but that didn’t matter to those who admired this fresh-air fashion statement; America loved it, of course. The original 1192cc engine was increased in capacity in parallel with the Beetle up to 1584cc by 1974.
Volkswagen Karmann-GhiaShow Article
The 2 millionth Volkswagen left the production line in Wolfsburg, Germany. Begun 30 years earlier by the Nazi regime, the German car maker and its economical Beetle overcame their unpleasant pasts and began selling in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Toyota and Datsun make their first appearances in the United States at the Imported Motor Car Show in Los Angeles, California. The first Nissan products were sold in the U.S. under the trade name“Datsun” and the first Toyotas were “Toyopets”. Unofficially, a few Datsuns and Toyopets had arrived in the United States with the return of servicemen stationed in Japan in the mid 1950s. Officially, the first two Toyopets arrived in September of 1957 for testing in the American market. It turned out that the cars were totally unsuitable for North American terrain and roads. While the Toyopets were perfect Taxis in Tokyo, they couldn't handle the hilly Los Angeles roads. Not only that, but the head of the Toyota USA division didn’t like the name “Toyopet”. He complained that the name “Toy” sounded like a toy, and “toys break”. pet, meantime, brought to mind dogs. Datsun’s premarketing test went considerably better. A Datsun 210 was brought to Los Angeles and tinkered with. The test included an uphill drag race with a Volkswagen Beetle. The Datsun won. Later, the Datsun was damaged in a traffic accident. All told, the Nissan engineers told their Japanese bosses that Datsuns could be sold in the U.S. if they were modified with stronger engines and drivetrains. The vehicles selected for the L.A. Import Show included A Datsun-1000 (PL210) four door sedan. The Toyopet sedan was a slightly larger vehicle. Both vehicles were given “passing” scores on body quality but were judged lacking in the engine departments. It turned out that Datsun had the advantage of showing a smaller car plus a pickup model. The prices and performance were competitive with the top import of the day, the VW Beetle. Dealerships soon were opened as Datsun cars and pickups began appearing on the streets. Meanwhile the Toyopet was given high marks for sturdiness and quality, but it was considered to be overpriced and underpowered for the American market. Sales were lackluster, so Toyota withdrew from the U.S. market in 1960. In 1965, Toyota began anew with a completely redesigned Toyopet Crown that featured a larger engine and more luxury features. The car also came back with a new name, Toyota Corona. The vehicle was the first of a successful line for the company that, years later, renamed the model “Camry”, the Japanese word for “crown”.
Los Angeles Imported Car Show - 1958Show Article
After sharp recession that hit the U.S. in the fall of 1957 led to steep declines in the sales of big, glitzy, middle-market cars like Ford’s new Edsel, the soaring sales of Nash’s compact Rambler and small imports like the Volkswagen Beetle, Henry Ford II approved the development of a compact Ford car. The new car, developed under the codename XK Thunderbird, underwent several changes of nomenclature before being dubbed “Ford Falcon” in April 1958. (That name was originally owned by Chrysler, but Ford obtained it through a bit of inter-corporate quid pro quo.)
Ford Falcon 1960Show Article
The Trabant, that started out as East Germany's answer to the Volkswagen Beetle as the people’s affordable car, went into regular production. It was simple design that could easily be maintained and repaired by its owner using a few basic tools. Most owners carried a replacement belt and sparks plugs at all times. The first Trabant, a P 50, was powered by a smoky two-stroke generator that maxed out at 18 hp; the P was stood for plastic and the 50 signified it’s 500cc engine that used only 5 moving parts. To conserve expensive metal, the Trabant body was manufactured using Duroplast, a form of plastic containing resin strengthened by recycled wool or cotton. Surprisingly, in crash tests the Trabant actually proved to be superior to some modern small hatchbacks. Refueling the Trabant required lifting the hood to fill the six gallon gas tank and then adding two-stroke oil and shaking it back and forth to mix it. But that didn’t deter folks from enjoying the main selling points of the car in it had room for four adults and luggage, it was compact, fast, light and durable. The lifespan of an average Trabant was 28 years, probably due to the fact that it could take over ten years for a one to be delivered from the time it was ordered and people who finally received theirs were very careful with it. Subsequently, used Trabants often fetched a higher price than new ones, as they were available immediately. East German designers and engineers created a series of more sophisticated prototypes through the years that were intended to replace the original Trabant, however each proposal for a new model was rejected by the GDR leadership for reasons of cost. Instead subtle changes came in 1963 with the P 60 series including improved brakes and electrical systems.The Trabant P 60 (600cc) still took 21 seconds to get from 0 to 60 with a top speed of 70mph while producing nine times the amount of hydrocarbons and five times the carbon monoxides of the average European car. It was in a Trabant that thousands of East Germans drove over the border when the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989. This made the Trabant a kind of automotive liberator and one of the most recognizable symbols of the failed former East Germany and the fall of communism. As German reunification began, demand for the Trabant plummeted. Residents of the east preferred second-hand western cars and the production line closed in 1991. Out of the 3,096,099 Trabants produced, there are over 100K reported to be still on the road. Today these little cars have a huge following of young drivers because they are so easy to repair and customize. There are several Trabant enthusiast clubs all over the world which is amazing for car that rarely left the communists states.
Dr Heinz Nordhoff, President of Volkswagenwerk AG, and the late Dr Ferdinand Porsche were given the 1958 Elmer A Sperry Award for the design of the Volkswagen Beetle.Show Article
The 3,000,000th Volkswagen was produced.Show Article
British Motor Corporation (BMC) launched its newest car, the small affordable Mark I Mini. The diminutive Mini went on to become one of the best-selling British cars in history. Ford reportedly purchased a Mini and, after dismantling it, determined that BMC must have been losing around £30 per car, so decided to produce a larger car – the Cortina, launched in 1962 – as the Mini’s competitor in the budget market. The story behind the Mini began in August 1956, when President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in response to the American and British decision to withdraw funding for a new dam’s construction due to Egypt’s Communist ties. The international crisis that followed led to fuel shortages and gasoline rationing across Europe. Sir Leonard Lord, head of BMC–formed by the merger of automakers Austin and Morris in 1952–wanted to produce a British alternative to the tiny, fuel-efficient German cars that were cornering the market after the Suez Crisis. He turned to Alec Issigonis, a Turkish immigrant who as chief engineer at Morris Motors had produced the Morris Minor, a teapot-shaped cult favorite that had nonetheless never seriously competed with the Volkswagen “Beetle” or Fiat’s 500 or Cinquecento. Mini development began in 1957 and took place under a veil of secrecy; the project was known only as ADO (for Austin Drawing Office) 15. After about two and a half years–a relatively short design period–the new car was ready for the approval of Lord, who immediately signed off on its production. The new front-wheel-drive car was priced at around £600 and marketed under two names: Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor - one revived the famous Austin Se7en name and the other called on some Cowley plant history to be called the Morris Mini Minor. The two vehicles were the same except for each had a different radiator grille, and by 1962 both were known simply as the Mini. Issigonis’ design, including an engine mounted sideways to take up less space, had created a surprising amount of space for a small-bodied car: The proposed engine size was originally 950 cc. However, Leonard Lord, chairman of BMC thought that the 90 mph (140 km/h) top speed was excessive and thus reduced the engine size to 848 cc to gain a more manageable speed (for the time) of 72 mph (116 km/h). Issigonis' suspension featured the use of rubber cones as springs: the spring rate of rubber changes with compression, allowing the suspension to adapt to passenger load variations (a full passenger load could actually double the tiny vehicle's gross weight). A conventional suspension would have required an increase in height to the design. This unique design was adapted from Issigonis's home-built racer and built for the Mini by Alex Moulton. Although only 10 feet long, the Mini was a genuine four seater. This was possible within such a small bodyshell because the engine was mounted transversely, driving the front wheels via a gearbox which was uniquely incorporated into the sump of the engine. Engine and gearbox thus shared the same oil, which was a significant piece of design in response to the 1956 Suez crisis and the fears of future oil shortages. The overall width of the vehicle was reduced, because there was no need to accommodate a separate gearbox across the width of the car and because there was no transmission tunnel in the floorplan of the Mini, there was more space that could be used to accommodate the passengers thus compensating for the reduced width. Overall length was minimized because of the Mini's two-box design, comprising only a passenger compartment and the engine compartment. There was no third box providing a separate luggage compartment (i.e. a boot) and that inevitably compromised luggage space. To offset that problem, large bins beside each of the four seats provided some useful interior storage and a centrally located instrument binnacle allowed the dashboard to be opened up for storage too. The requirement for storage bins in the front doors effectively determined that the Mini should have sliding windows rather than wind-up windows. The tiny 10-inch (250 mm) wheels helped to reduce the intrusion of wheel arches into the interior of the vehicle and allowed a modest amount of additional luggage space in a "boot" area behind the rear seats. Overall the Mini represents some very clever packaging which has often been imitated but has never been bettered An Austin de luxe saloon was tested by the British magazine The Motor in 1959. It had a top speed of 72.4 mph (116.5 km/h) and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in 27.1 seconds. A fuel consumption of 43.5 miles per imperial gallon (6.49 L/100 km; 36.2 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £537 including taxes of £158. With its low starting price, the Mini was truly a “people’s car,” but its popularity transcended class, and it was also used by affluent Londoners as a second car to easily maneuver in city traffic. By the time production was halted in 2000, 5.3 million Minis had been produced. Around that same time, a panel of 130 international journalists voted the Mini “European Car of the Century.” A high-performance version of the Mini engineered by the race car builder John Cooper had first been released in 1961; known as the Mini Cooper, it became one of the favorites of Mini enthusiasts worldwide. In 2003, the Mini Cooper was updated for a new generation of buyers by the German automaker BMW.
1959 Morris Mini Minor (Mini Mark 1)
Showing what you can get in a MINIShow Article
Automotive engineer Earl S MacPherson (68), whose career included stints with Chalmers, Libert, Hupmobile, and Chevrolet before executive roles with General Motors and the Ford Motor Company, died. For most of World War I, MacPherson was in Europe working on aircraft engines for the U.S. Army. His experience there left an indelible impression on MacPherson, and his exposure to the advanced, sophisticated engineering informed everything he would do in the next half-century. His entire pre-war career revolved around the automotive industry. From 1919 to 1922, he worked for auto manufacturer Liberty, before moving on to Hupmobile until 1934, when he joined General Motors' central engineering office. In just one year, MacPherson would become Chevrolet's chief design engineer. His task: direct the creation of a small car for Chevrolet. That car never came to fruition. And it is a second small Chevrolet that never materialized for which MacPherson is generally remembered. The charge was to produce a Chevrolet that was to sell for $1,000 or less. The least expensive Fords and Chevrolets were priced at $1,050. GM's chairman, Alfred P. Sloan, was opposed to building small, cheap cars, believing (rightly it turned out) that the United States would be treated to unprecedented prosperity, and that conventional automobiles would win the day. As a compromise, Chevrolet embarked on the Chevrolet Light Car Project in 1945, and MacPherson was installed as chief engineer. MacPherson assembled an incredible team of engineers for the project. Earl W. Rohrbacher, chief designer for mechanical components on the Light Car, noted in an article written by Karl Ludvigsen that "MacPherson didn't like to rush a design," adding "He liked to think it out very thoroughly before any experimental parts were built up. He said you saved money in the long run that way." Parts did begin to be constructed, though, and when they did, they were world-class. Elements of the Light Car were described as "an engineer's dream." The car featured a front engine and rear drive, since MacPherson decided that this was the best configuration for a four-door passenger car with a target weight of 2,200 pounds. The car was small: It was designed for just four passengers, and had a wheelbase of just 108 inches, eight inches shorter than a traditional Chevy. It was the Light Car's suspension system, though, that was truly revolutionary. MacPherson had combined the tubular shock absorbers and coil springs into tall towers that also guided the vertical travel of the wheels. Each of the car's four wheels were suspended independent from each other. Tubular radius rods controlled the movement of the lower end of each tower. The Light Car--by now known as the Cadet--became the first car with a true MacPherson strut suspension. The innovative suspension system was also employed at the rear, which is something you don't generally see on modern cars. It had to be in this case, because MacPherson wanted more seat and trunk room, and to reduce unsprung weight and provide an exceptional ride. In testing at the GM Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan, the cars showed outstanding characteristics. The Delco Division worked to improve durability of the struts, while eliminating any squeaks with nylon bushings. The struts allowed for long wheel travel, while still providing light and pleasant handling, described as "snappy" by testers. Handling characteristics were better than that year's Chevrolet's, and even better than contemporary Cadillacs'. Unfortunately, the project was proving to be expensive. At the $1,000-a-unit threshold, Chevrolet's salesmen would have had to sell 300,000 Cadets a year to make a profit, something they felt was impossible. After tangling with GM engineering vice president James M. Crawford, who felt that the Cadet was "too much of a jewel of a car," and pressed for more simplicity in its design and engineering, MacPherson had seen just about enough at General Motors. MacPherson soon received an offer from Harold Youngren at Ford Motor Company, and he packed up and took his talents to Dearborn. In the intervening years, MacPherson's genius was employed in the Ford overhead-valve six-cylinder, and most notably, in the use of his innovative suspension system in the front of the French Ford Vedette, and later, the English Ford Consul and Zephyr, and later on Volkswagen Type IVs and Super Beetles. The combined advantages of low unsprung mass and space-saving design made the MacPherson strut suspension system the tool of choice for cars built in the 1980s. Ironically, it wasn't until 1980, when the X-body Citation debuted, that Chevrolet would finally employ the system MacPherson designed.
Earl S MacPhersonShow Article
The German government passed the "Law Concerning the Transfer of the Share Rights in Volkswagenwerk Limited Liability Company into Private Hands," known informally as the "Volkswagen Law." Founded in 1937 and originally under the control of Adolf Hitler's National Socialist (Nazi) Party, Volkswagen would eventually grow into Europe's largest car manufacturer and a symbol of Germany's economic recovery after the devastation of the Second World War. The Volkswagen Law, passed in July 1960, changed the company to a joint stock corporation, with 20 percent held each by the nation of Germany and the region of Lower Saxony in which Volkswagen was and still is headquartered. By limiting the share of any other stockholder to 20 percent, regardless of how many shares owned, the law effectively protected the company from any attempt at a hostile takeover. By 2007, the controversial legislation had come under full-blown attack from the European Commission as part of a campaign against protectionist measures in several European capitals. The commission objected not only to the 20 percent voting rights cap but to the law's stipulation that measures taken at the annual stockholders' meeting must be passed by more than four-fifths of VW shareholders, a requirement that gave Lower Saxony the ability to block any measures it desired. In March of 1960 German automaker Porsche announced that it had raised its stake in Volkswagen to 30.9 percent, triggering a takeover bid under a German law which required a company to bid for the entirety of any other company after acquiring more than 30 percent of its stock. Porsche announced it did not intend to take over VW, but was buying the stock as a way of protecting it from being dismantled by hedge funds. Porsche's history was already entwined with Volkswagen, as the Austrian-born engineer Ferdinand Porsche designed the original "people's car" for Volkswagen in 1938. On October 23, 2007, the European Court of Justice formally struck down the Volkswagen Law, ruling that its protectionism illegally restricted the free movement of capital in European markets. The decision cleared the way for Porsche to move forward with its takeover, which it did, maintaining that it will still preserve the Volkswagen corporate structure. By early 2009, Porsche owned more than 50 percent of Volkswagen shares.Show Article
The 4 millionth Volkswagen was produced.Show Article
The first Volkswagen 1500 Type-3 was produced. Introduced at the 1961 Frankfurt Motor Show, Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA), the Type 3 was marketed as the Volkswagen 1500 and later the Volkswagen 1600, in three body styles: two-door Notchback, Fastback and station wagon, the latter marketed as the 'Variant' in most markets, and 'Squareback' in the United States. The Type 3 diversified Volkswagen's product range beyond the existing models – the Type 1 (Beetle), Type 14 Karmann Ghia, Type 2 (Bus) – while retaining their engineering principles, notably the air-cooled engine, all round torsion bar suspension, and the rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout.
Volkswagen 1500 Type-3Show Article
The 5 millionth Volkswagen was produced.
5 millionth VWShow Article
The 1,000,000th Volkswagen Transporter was produced.Show Article
The 6,000,000th Volkswagen was produced.Show Article
The 7,000,000th Volkswagen was introduced.Show Article
The 8,000,000th Volkswagen was produced.Show Article
The first Renault 16 was completed at the purpose-built car plant at Sandouville, near Le Havre in France. One of the world’s first hatchbacks – halfway between a saloon and an estate body style - which would eventually become the most popular car body style in the world, the R16 won the prestigious European Car of the Year award in 1965. Over 1.8 million R16s were produced during the model’s 16-year lifetime. The Renault 16 was an innovative and interesting middle-class family car that proved that Renault's front-wheel drive concept pioneered in the 4 could be scaled up successfully where the profits were much higher. It also could be described as being one of the fathers of the modern family car, offering a hatchback and front-wheel drive years before it was popularised by cars such as the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2 or Volkswagen Passat. Although not an obvious candidate for stardom, the Renault 16 was actually one of the 1960s most important cars. The monocoque body housed Renault's first front-wheel-drive arrangement on a large car; although unlike the BMC equivalents the engine was mounted longitudinally. However, the unit was thoroughly modern, with an aluminium cylinder head and block and wet liners, and it would go on to power millions of Renault vehicles well into the 1990s. The long-travel fully-independent suspension, which employed all-round torsion bars, guaranteed a soft ride, and soft and supportive seats and a well-trimmed cabin, merely enhanced the feeling of luxury. The column-change gearbox was popular on the continent, but British buyers couldn’t get on with it, although this wasn't a problem for most owners as it was light and smooth to operate. The R16's claim to fame, however, was its hatchback rear end. Other cars had been built with an opening rear hatch before, including the Renault 4, but it was the 16 that introduced such practicality to large, mainstream family cars, and wouldn't be rivalled until Austin's Maxi debuted in 1969. 16TX was the top models, with luxury cabins and 90mph capability. Conceptually it was similar to the R4, so that meant an odd longitudinal engine with the gearbox placed ahead of it in the nose, but in a larger car, the space inefficient layout was less of a problem. Lively alloy engines delivered fine performance, and disc brakes were powerful. The 1973 Renault 16TX was the ultimate version, with 1647cc 93bhp engine, five-speed transmission and quad headlights. Today it's still a great drive, but the best examples are now fetching strong money after years in the doldrums.
Renault 16 brochure (Canadian)Show Article
The 9,000,000th Volkswagen was produced.Show Article
The 1,500,000th Volkswagen Transporter was produced.
The 10,000,000th Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the production line. Ferdinand Porsche and Zündapp began developing the "Auto für Jedermann" (car for everybody) in 1931. In the followinf year, three prototypes were running, all of those cars were lost during the war, the last in a bombing raid over Stuttgart in 1945. In 1933, Adolf Hitler gave the order to Ferdinand Porsche to develop a "VolksWagen". The name means "people's car" in German, in which it is pronounced [ˈfolksvɑːgən]. Hitler required a basic vehicle capable of transporting two adults and three children at 100 km/h (62 mph). The "People's Car" would be available to citizens of the Third Reich through a savings scheme at 990 Reichsmark, about the price of a small motorcycle (an average income being around 32RM a week). Erwin Komenda, Porsche's chief designer, was responsible for the design and style of the car. But production only became worthwhile when finance was backed by the Third Reich. War started before large-scale production of the Volkswagen started, and manufacturing shifted to producing military vehicles, the best known was the Kubelwagen. Until 1946, the Volkswagen plant (called "Strength Through Joy Town") was owned by the Nazis and was not a commercial company, rather a political creation. The factory was bombed intensively towards the end of the war. A group of British Army personnel were sent to the plant to salvage what they could and re-establish car production. One single Beetle survived the wreckage of the bombed factory, upon showing this Beetle to Military Government, they were rewarded with an order for 20,000 Beetles, with a target of 1,000 Beetles a month. A german management team, headed by Heinz Nordoff, was assembled during the latter part of 1947, and in 1949 the factory was handed over to the regional government of saxony. The Beetle as we know it was truly born.
Four Englishmen arrived at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany after crossing the English Channel in a German-made Amphicar, the world’s only mass-produced amphibious passenger car. Despite choppy waters, stiff winds, and one flooded engine, the two vehicles made it across the water in about 7 hours. Designed by German engineer Hans Trippel, the Amphicar's design was derived from the Schwimmwagen, the amphibious all-wheel-drive vehicle that Volkswagen had produced for the German armed forces during the Second World War. The Quandt Group produced the Amphicars for seven years, from 1961 to1968, building about 3,900 of the little swimming convertibles.
The 11,000,000th Volkswagen was produced.Show Article
The Subaru 1000, the first front wheel drive Subaru produced by Fuji Heavy Industries that was in the Japanese government "compact car" classification, went on sale. Previous Subaru models such as the Subaru 360 and the Sambar had been rear-engined, rear wheel drive kei cars. It was the first production Subaru to use a boxer engine. In 1960, Subaru management decided to introduce a successor to the prototype Subaru 1500 with a new code name "A-5" with a four-cycle air-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine displacing 1500 cc, driving the front wheels in a compact car platform. It was to have a double wishbone front suspension. Due to FHI's limited resources, the car wasn't produced. The Subaru 360 was selling at the time but Subaru wanted a car that could comfortably carry four passengers without a cramped compartment, that would appear to be an alternative to the Toyota Publica, the Datsun 110/210, the Hino Contessa, and the Mitsubishi Colt 600. Subaru also wanted to reduce engine noise by placing the engine up front and improve interior space by implementing front wheel drive, thereby eliminating a centrally mounted drive shaft powering the rear wheels, and utilizing an independent suspension at all four wheels. The only other Japanese company to use an air-cooled, horizontally opposed engine at the time was in the Publica, and the Toyota U engine. In 1963, Subaru tried again, with a new project code "A-4", with a smaller 923 cc engine, front wheel drive, and an overall length of 3,885 mm (153.0 in), a wheelbase of 2,400 mm (94 in), a front wheel width of 1,230 mm (48 in) and a rear wheel width of 1,220 mm (48 in), weighing 500 kg (1,100 lb). It made it towards production status and was changed to production code "A-63" and was eventually introduced as the Subaru 1000. To address space efficiency and a quiet operation with minimal vibration, the engine was developed as a water-cooled engine instead of the original intent of air-cooled in the "A-5" concept. These cars featured a unique water-cooled, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, with overhead valves operated by pushrods. Subaru engineers examined Porsche, Volkswagen and even Chevrolet Corvair and thought it would be nice if this type of engine is combined with front wheel drive system. The neck in proceeding the mechanism was the vibrations from universal joints, but in collaboration with the bearing maker Toyo Bearing (now known as NTN), the epoch-making "double offset joint" was invented. Modern Subaru's still make use of horizontally opposed four-cylinder engines, albeit of a much greater capacity and with more modern overhead-cam-driven valves. As was typical of early front wheel drive cars, the 1000 featured inboard drum brakes up front to reduce unsprung suspension weight and an easier implementation of an independent front suspension (but atypically Subaru would retain this unusual design into the seventies). Other unique features of the 1000 were a lack of a heater core, the heating system took its warmth directly from the radiator, and a hybrid suspension system that used torsion bars in combination with coil springs (much like the front suspension of the Subaru 360). The 1000 was superseded by the 1100 (also known as the Subaru FF-1 Star in the United States and in other export markets) at the start of the seventies.
Subaru 1000 - 1966Show Article
Roy D Chapin Jr was named Chairman of American Motors to succeed the retiring Robert B Evans. AMC President Roy Abernethy also retired and was succeeded by William V Luneberg. Chapin joined American Motors in 1954 when the corporation was formed with the merger of Nash and Hudson. Later, he served as an assistant treasurer and a director at AMC. By 1964, he held the post of executive vice president in charge of international operations of AMC. Robert B. Evans, chairman of AMC, recognized the talents of Chapin and promoted him from an executive vice president to take his place as chairman of the board. The "dynamic and intelligent" Chapin was appointed to fill the CEO position at AMC following the departure of Roy Abernethy in 1967, along with William Luneburg as president. Chapin realized he was taking over at a crucial time; The Wall Street Journal described it as "a dying company." At the time, Chapin said, "We're going to have to show ingenuity." He reflected later that the most difficult period was "... when our president, Bill Luneburg, and I took over. We were out of money and we had to do something to overcome the immediate problems. We had no time to think about long-range problems. Obviously, we managed to solve immediate considerations..." At the time Chapin took control of the company, AMC's share of U.S. auto sales slipped, from 6.4% in 1960 to a mere 3.2 percent. On top of the loss of US$12.6 million in fiscal 1966, Chapin and new President William V. Luneburg had more bad news for the annual meeting of shareholders by reporting a 10% sales drop from a year earlier (to $257 million) and the company lost another $8,459,917 (US$63,809,466 in 2017 dollars) in the first quarter of its 1967 fiscal year. The company skipped paying a dividend for the sixth straight quarter and to control the inventory of unsold cars AMC closed its factories for ten working days, the second such shutdown in two months. For the entire year AMC "lost an astounding $75.8 million." During an era when relationships were vital to securing corporate financing, Chapin "was a well-known industrialist who inspired great confidence among the leading financiers of his day" to help keep the automaker going. In just a few weeks in his new post at AMC, Chapin decided to focus on the smallest and at that time the least popular AMC model — the compact Rambler American. His objective was to double Rambler sales to 140,000 cars in 1967 and recapture at least 10% of the compact market that AMC once dominated. He saw a gap between U.S. cars and the inexpensive imports (primarily the Volkswagen Beetle) and positioned the Rambler right into the center of this gap with a new, low price tag to make its total value superior to the imports, as well as superior in both price and range of choice" to U.S. compacts. Chapin cut the suggested retail price of the basic two-door Rambler American sedan to $1,839 (US$13,497 in 2017 dollars), which was $278 less than its closest U.S. competitor, the $2,117 Plymouth Valiant. This move made the considerably larger and more powerful American only $200 more than the rudimentary Volkswagen. By forgoing the annual styling changeovers that were expected among the domestic firms, AMC could save retooling costs and keep the car's price so low. Helping AMC was the strategic decisions by the competing automakers not to match the price drop. Within a month of taking their positions, Chapin and Luneburg reversed the automaker's upholding ban on racing that was instituted by the Automobile Manufacturers Association (AMA) in 1957. American Motors began race car sponsorship and focused on developing new muscle cars models for consumers looking for performance. In addition to slashing prices and sponsoring Ramblers in racing to help build a performance image, Chapin was optimistic because the company had cut costs by $27 million a year, hired new executives, and had significant products in the pipeline, including new youth-oriented models. Chapin appeared in print advertisements where he was interviewed by John Bond, publisher of Road & Track and Car Life about product and corporate strategy to assure the success of AMC. Chapin continued making changes for the 1968 model year, and took the bold step to make air conditioning standard on all the AMC Ambassador models at a time when this comfort feature was still an option on the expensive Cadillac and Lincoln brand luxury vehicles. After the disastrous 1967 results, the company's retail sales increased 13% during fiscal-year 1968. Other changes during included new marketing campaigns with Guy Hadsall Jr. reporting directly to Chapin. These included dropping the road shows for introduction of new models in favor of closed circuit TV, as well as "dynamic meetings" by holding the first automobile sales events in the sky using chartered flights to "mystery" destinations. The automaker's new advertising agency Wells, Rich, and Greene that was headed by Mary Wells Lawrence was also "innovative and daring in its approach." Print and TV advertisements broke with the traditional convention of not attacking the competition, with AMC cars appearing side by side with competing makes. The launch of the two-seat AMC AMX sports car was through a marketing agreement with Playboy Enterprises. The 1970 AMC Hornet was launched under Chapin's leadership as a value compact to compete against the "import tide." Chapin worked with Ivan Vassall Sr., who in 1969 established the first black-owned auto dealership in Philadelphia. Chapin was a promoter of innovation at AMC. In 1967, he announced a joint venture with Gulton Industries for development of an electric automobile. A three-passenger commuter, the Amitron was an experimental design shown to the public While at the head of AMC, Chapin spearheaded the acquisition of Jeep from the Kaiser Motors Division of Kaiser Industries in 1970. According to Chapin: "Perhaps the easiest decision I ever made was the purchase of Jeep from Kaiser in 1970. I tried to buy it when Geo rge Romney (later Michigan governor) and Roy Abernethy were running AMC. Romney and Edgar Kaiser couldn't get along. I was running the international operations under Abernethy and I was following Jeep around. When they put up a plant, I followed with a Rambler plant because it worked like a charm. Where Jeep was, there were roads and gasoline. Abernethy didn't go for the idea and the first thing I did when I became chairman and got a little money was to buy Jeep. We got it for a song, about $75 million..."American Motors' engineers and designers quickly overhauled Jeep and expanded its lineup, creating a valuable asset that attracted Renault, Chrysler, and ultimately DaimlerBenz AG. Chapin was also interested in the Wankel engine and stated "that the rotary engine will play an important role as a powerplant for cars and trucks of the future." An agreement was signed with Curtiss-Wright in February 1973, for AMC to build Wankels for both passenger cars and Jeeps, as well as the right to sell any rotary engines it produces to other companies. American Motors designed the unique AMC Pacer around the engine, but the production cars used AMC's conventional piston engines. In 1977, on the 75th anniversary of the "birth" of two organizations, American Motors and Popular Mechanics, Chapin described AMC's "corporate philosophy of difference, under which we strive to offer the American motoring public a wider choice" and stated that "the most significant change we can look to will be the development of alternate sources of power to replace our dependence on fossil fuels." Chapin was also instrumental in developing collaboration between American Motors and Renault. He was also in favor of Renault investing in AMC, but was distressed by the company's sale to Chrysler.
Roy D Chapin JrShow Article
The futuristically styled 112-mph NSU Ro 80, the most technologically advanced production car in the world at the time, was launched. Most notable was the powertrain, a 113-bhp, 995-cc, twin-rotor Wankel engine driving the front wheels through a 3-speed semi-automatic gearbox, featuring a torque converter and an automatic clutch triggered by a microswitch on the gearstick. It received much praise and was voted ‘Car of the Year 1968’. Unfortunately, its engine was also the cause of its failure, which killed not only the car but also its maker NSU. Reliability and durability problems led to huge warranty expenses, while poor reputation drove customers towards rivals Mercedes and BMW. NSU was rescued by Volkswagen in 1969, and then merged with Auto-Union to form the modern Audi. The Ro 80 somehow survived until 1977.
The Wankel engine of a NSU Ro 80.Show Article
Heinrich Nordhoff (69), German engineer famous for his leadership of the Volkswagen company as it was rebuilt after World War II, died.Show Article
The Audi 100 was shown to the press at the Ingolstadt City Theatre, Germany. Its name originally denoting a power output of 100 PS (74 kW), the Audi 100 was the company's largest car since the revival of the Audi brand by Volkswagen in 1965. The C1 platform spawned several variants: the Audi 100 two- and four-door saloons, and the Audi 100 Coupé S, a fastback coupé, which bore a resemblance to the Aston Martin DBS released a year earlier, especially at the rear end, including details such as the louvres behind the rear side windows and the shape of the rear light clusters. Audi followed up the introduction of the four-door saloon in November 1968 with a two-door saloon in October 1969 and the 100 Coupé S in autumn 1970. The cars' 1.8 litre four-cylinder engines originally came in base 100 (80 PS or 59 kW or 79 hp), 100 S (90 PS or 66 kW or 89 hp), and 100 LS (100 PS or 74 kW or 99 hp) versions, while the Coupé was driven by a bored-out 1.9 litre developing 115 PS (85 kW; 113 hp). From April 1970 the 100 LS could be ordered with a three-speed automatic transmission sourced from Volkswagen. The Audi 100 included a rough engine note that was described as unlikely to discourage buyers whose first car had been a Volkswagen and who aspired to drive a diesel powered (pre-turbo) Mercedes-Benz. The Ingolstadt production line was at full capacity, but supply fell short of demand that during the summer of 1970 an additional production line for Audi 100s was set up in Volkswagen's own Wolfsburg plant, which made it the first water-cooled car to be produced in Germany's (and by some criteria the world's) largest car plant. Starting with the 1972 model year, the 80 and 90 PS versions were replaced by a new regular-petrol-variant of the 1.8 litre engine developing 85 PS (84 hp/63 kW); at the same time, the 100 GL was introduced featuring the 1.9 liter engine formerly used only in the Coupé S. In March 1971 the 500,000th Audi was produced. By now the Audi 100 had become the most commercially successful model in the company's history. In 1976 the two millionth Audi was built, of which the 100 represented 800,000 cars. In September 1973 (for the 1974 model year) the 100 received a minor facelift with a somewhat smaller squared-off grille, with correspondingly more angular front fenders, and with reshuffled taillight lens patterns. The rear torsion bar was replaced by coil springs. For model year 1975 the base 100 was re-christened the 100 L and received a 1.6 litre four-cylinder engine (coming out of the Audi 80). A four-wheel drive prototype of the Audi 100 C1 was built in 1976, long before the appearance of the quattro. In South Africa, where the 100 was also assembled, the 100 was available as the L, LS, GL, and S Coupé. Local production began towards the end of 1972; by October 1976 33,000 units had been built in South Africa. The GL received a vinyl roof and "GL" lettering on the C-pillar. The LS was dropped for 1976, but returned for 1977 along with the new GLS saloon. The Coupé was discontinued. The LS and GLS were special versions of the L and GL, with silver paintjobs, automatic transmissions, and special red interiors. L and LS have a 1760 cc engine with 75 kW (102 PS; 101 hp) DIN, while the GL and GLS have the larger 1871 cc engine producing 84 kW (114 PS; 113 hp). In the United States the Audi 100 appeared in 1970 in LS guise, with a 115 hp (86 kW) SAE 1.8 liter engine and with either two or four doors.For 1972 the engine was enlarged to 1.9 litres, but the SAE net claimed power was down to 91 hp (68 kW). A base and a GL model were added, as was an automatic transmission. For 1974 the lineup was again restricted to the 100 LS, while the larger safety bumpers were now fitted. Power increased to 95 hp (71 kW) for 1975, by changing to fuel injection. Standard equipment was improved accompanied by an increase in prices. In August 1977 the new Audi 5000 replaced the 100, although another 537 leftover cars were sold in 1978. The Coupé was not available in the United States.
Audi 100 brochure - 1969Show Article
The Walt Disney studio released The Love Bug. Directed by Robert Stevenson, the film starred "Herbie," a lovable Volkswagen bug with a personality. Abused by the evil race-car driver "Thorndyke" (David Thomlinson), Herbie is rescued by the young good-guy race-car driver "Jim" (Dean Jones). Grateful for his rescue, Herbie rewards the hapless Jim by winning one race after another on his driver's behalf. The excitement begins when the ruthless Thorndyke plots to get Herbie back by any means necessary. Based on a story by Gordon Buford, The Love Bug inspired several sequels, including Herbie Rides Again, Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo, Herbie Goes Bananas, and Herbie: Fully Loaded. By becoming one of the biggest grossing films of 1969, The Love Bug allayed any fears that the Disney Studio would collapse without the presence of the recently deceased Walt Disney. The movie became a children's film classic and enhanced the Volkswagen Beetle's image as a quirky car endowed with more than solid engineering.
The Love BugShow Article
The body design of the Austin Allegro was finalised by the BLMC board (at a cost of £21m). The Allegro was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis as the replacement for the popular Austin 1100 and 1300 models. As with the Morris Marina, the car can be seen with hindsight as symptomatic of the enormous difficulties facing British Leyland during that period. The key factor that British Leyland can now be seen to have missed is that a much more useful and popular form of car, the hatchback, was emerging in Europe, with designs such as the Autobianchi A112, Renault 16, and Volkswagen Golf. This configuration would go on to dominate the market for small family cars in the space of a few years. British Leyland stuck to the more traditional and less versatile booted design when they launched the Allegro.
The 15,007,034th Volkswagen Beetle rolled out of the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, surpassing the Ford Model T’s previous production record to become the most heavily produced car in history.
The 3,000,000th Mini was produced. Produced by British Motor Corporation (BMC) and its successors from 1959 until 2000, the original is considered a British icon of the 1960s. Its space-saving transverse engine front-wheel drive layout – allowing 80 percent of the area of the car's floorpan to be used for passengers and luggage – influenced a generation of car makers. In 1999 the Mini was voted the second most influential car of the 20th century, behind the Ford Model T, and ahead of the Citroën DS and Volkswagen Beetle. This distinctive two-door car was designed for BMC by Sir Alec Issigonis. It was manufactured at the Longbridge and Cowley plants in England, the Victoria Park/Zetland British Motor Corporation (Australia) factory in Sydney, Australia, and later also in Spain (Authi), Belgium, Chile, Italy (Innocenti), Malta, Portugal, South Africa, Uruguay, Venezuela and Yugoslavia. The Mini Mark I had three major UK updates – the Mark II, the Clubman and the Mark III. Within these was a series of variations, including an estate car, a pick-up truck, a van and the Mini Moke – a jeep-like buggy. The performance versions, the Mini Cooper and Cooper "S," were successful as rally cars, winning the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967. In 1966, the first-placed Mini was disqualified after the finish, under a controversial decision that the car's headlights were against the rules. On introduction in August 1959 the Mini was marketed under the Austin and Morris names, as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor. The Austin Seven was renamed Austin Mini in January 1962 and Mini became a marque in its own right in 1969. In 1980 it once again became the Austin Mini and in 1988 the Rover Mini. BMW acquired the Rover Group (formerly British Leyland) in 1994, and sold the greater part of it in 2000, but retained the rights to build cars using the MINI name.
Lord Stokes celebrating the three millionth Mini off the lineShow Article
The Audi Fox was introduced. In Europe the car was marketed as the '80'. It shared its platform with the Volkswagen Passat from 1973 to 1986 and was available as a sedan, and an Avant (Audi's name for a station wagon). The coupé and convertible models were not badged as members of the range but shared the same platform and many parts.
The last Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia was produced at the Wilhelm Karmann GmbH plant in Osnabruck, West Germany. Marketed in 2+2 coupe (1955–1974) and convertible (1957–1974) body styles by Volkswagen, the Karmann Ghia combined the chassis and mechanicals of the Type 1 (Beetle) with styling by Luigi Segre of the Italian carrozzeria Ghia and hand-built bodywork by the German coach-builder Karmann. American industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague included the Karmann Ghia in his list of the world's most beautifully designed products
The Golf GTi, was presented at the Frankfurt Motor Show as ‘The Volkswagen fastest of all time’. It had a top speed of 112 mph.
Golf GTi Mk1Show Article
Economy was the theme of the 1976 Chicago Auto Show. Over 700 cars were on display by 36 manufacturers. The dramatic radial layout of the show's second floor featured not only Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge but also Toyota, Volkswagen and British-Leyland, the UK-based manufacturer of MG's, Triumphs and Jaguars.. Subaru billed its 4-wheel drive wagon as "The Economy Car for Today's Economy," and Volkswagen's Rabbit was advertised as "The Best Car in the World for under $3500." Even Rolls Royce was calling itself "The Unexpected Economy Car in 1976!"
The Ford Fiesta was formally launched. It was originally developed under the project name "Bobcat" and approved for development by Henry Ford II in September 1972. Development targets indicated a production cost US$100 less than the current Escort. The car was to have a wheelbase longer than that of the Fiat 127 (although shorter than some other rivals, like the Peugeot 104, Renault 5 and Volkswagen Polo), but with an overall length shorter than that of the Escort. The final proposal was developed by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia. The project was approved for production in December 1973, with Ford's engineering centres in Cologne and Dunton (Essex) collaborating. Ford estimated that 500,000 Fiestas a year would be produced, and built an all-new factory near Valencia, Spain; a trans-axle factory near Bordeaux, France; factory extensions for the assembly plants in Dagenham, UK. Final assembly also took place in Valencia. The name Fiesta belonged to General Motors when the car was designed, as they had used the name for the Oldsmobile Fiesta in the 1950s; however, it was freely given for Ford to use on their new supermini. Ford's marketing team had preferred the name Bravo, but Henry Ford II vetoed it in favour of the Fiesta name. The motoring press had begun speculating about the existence of the Bobcat project since 1973, but it was not until December 1975 that Ford officially announced it as the Fiesta. A Fiesta was on display at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 1976, and the car went on sale in France and Germany in September 1976; to the frustration of UK dealerships, right hand drive versions only began to appear in the UK in January 1977. Mechanically, the Fiesta followed tradition, with an end-on four-speed manual transmission of the Ford BC-Series mounted to a new version of the Ford Kent OHV engine, dubbed "Valencia" after the brand new Spanish factory in Almussafes, Valencia, developed especially to produce the new car. Ford's plants in Dagenham, England, and Saarlouis and Cologne (from 1979) in Germany, also manufactured Fiestas. To cut costs and speed up the research and development, the new powertrain package destined for the Fiesta was tested in Fiat 127 development "mules". Unlike several rivals, which used torsion bars in their suspension, the Fiesta used coil springs. The front suspension was of Ford's typical "track control arm" arrangement, where MacPherson struts were combined with lower control arms and longitudinal compression links.The standard rear suspension used a beam axle, trailing links and a Panhard rod, whilst an anti-roll bar was included in the sports package. All Mk1 Fiestas featured 12-inch wheels as standard, with disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. Ford paid particular attention ease of service, and published the times required to replace various common parts.UK sales began in January 1977, where it was available from £1,856 for the basic 950 cc-engined model. It was only the second hatchback mini-car to have been built in the UK at this stage, being launched a year after the Vauxhall Chevette, but a year before the Chrysler Sunbeam and four years before the Austin Metro. The millionth Fiesta was produced in 1979. The car was initially available in Europe with the Valencia 957 cc (58.4 cu in) I4 (high compression and low compression options), and 1,117 cc (68.2 cu in) engines and in Base, Popular, L, GL (1978 onward), Ghia and S trim, as well as a van. The U.S. Mark I Fiesta was built in Saarlouis, Germany but to slightly different specifications; U.S. models were Base, Decor, Sport, and Ghia, the Ghia having the highest level of trim. These trim levels changed very little in the F iesta's three-year run in the USA, from 1978 to 1980. All U.S. models featured the more powerful 1,596 cc (97.4 cu in) engine, (which was the older "Crossflow" version of the Kent, rather than the Valencia) fitted with a catalytic converter and air pump to satisfy strict Californian emission regulations), energy-absorbing bumpers, side-marker lamps, round sealed-beam headlamps, improved crash dynamics and fuel system integrity as well as optional air conditioning (a/c was not available in Europe). In the U.S. market, the Ford Escort replaced both the Fiesta and the compact Pinto in 1981. At the beginning of the British government's Motability scheme for disabled motorists in 1978, the Fiesta was one of the key cars to be available on the scheme. A sporting derivative (1.3 L Supersport) was offered in Europe for the 1980 model year, using the 1.3 L (79 cu in) Kent Crossflow engine, effectively to test the market for the similar XR2 introduced a year later, which featured a 1.6 L version of the same engine. Black plastic trim was added to the exterior and interior. The small square headlights were replaced with larger circular ones resulting in the front indicators being moved into the bumper to accommodate the change. With a quoted performance of 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 9.3 seconds and 105 mph (169 km/h) top speed, the XR2 hot hatch became a cult car beloved of boy racers throughout the 1980s. For the 1979 auto show season, Ford in conjunction with its Ghia Operations in Turin, Italy, produced the Ford Fiesta Tuareg off-road car. It was touted in press materials as "a concept vehicle designed and equipped for practical, off-road recreational use." Minor revisions appeared across the range in late 1981, with larger bumpers to meet crash worthiness regulations and other small improvements in a bid to maintain showroom appeal ahead of the forthcoming second generation. In 1978, the Fiesta overtook the Vauxhall Chevette as Britain's best-selling supermini, but in 1981 it was knocked off the top spot by British Leyland's Austin Metro and was still in second place at the end of 1982. The Fiesta has sold over 16 million units over 6 generations making it one of the best selling Ford marques behind the Escort and the F-Series.
The last ‘traditional’ Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the production line in Germany, when mainstream production shifted to Brazil and Mexico: markets where low-operating costs could be met.
Volkswagen BeetleShow Article
The first American-made Volkswagen rolled off the assembly line in Pennsylvania.
VW logoShow Article
Harry B Coleman and Peggy Larson in a Volkswagen Camper, after setting out in August 1976 completed the longest continuous motor caravan trip ever reported – 143,716 miles, through 113 countries.Show Article
Three teenage girls died after their 1973 Ford Pinto was rammed from behind by a van and bursts into flames on a highway in Indiana, US. The fatal crash was one of a series of Pinto accidents that caused a national scandal during the 1970's. The small and economical Pinto, which debuted in 1970, was Ford's first subcompact car produced domestically, and its answer to popular imports like the Volkswagen Beetle and the Toyota Corolla. Lee Iacocca, then an executive vice president at Ford and later to earn fame as head of Chrysler, spearheaded the Pinto's development. By 1974, however, rumors began to surface in- and outside the company about the Pinto's tendency to catch fire in rear-end collisions. In May 1972, a California woman was killed when her Pinto caught fire after being rear-ended on a highway. Her passenger was burned over 90 percent of his body but survived; he sued Ford for damages. The passenger's lawyer found that the Pinto's gas tank sat behind the rear axle, where it was particularly vulnerable to damage by rear-end collisions. He also uncovered evidence that Ford had known about this weakness ever since the Pinto first went on sale, and had done nothing about it, mostly because changing the design would have been too costly. An article in Mother Jones magazine in the fall of 1977 exposed the Pinto safety concerns to a national audience, and a California jury's award of $128 million to passenger Richard Grimshaw in February 1978 spread the news still further. That June, Ford voluntarily recalled all 1.9 million 1971-1976 Pintos and 1975-1976 Mercury Bobcats (which had the same fuel-tank design). The Ehrlich girls, who died in the rear-end collision in Indiana on August 10, 1978, were apparently unaware of the Pinto-related dangers; their family would not receive a recall notice until early 1979. A grand jury later returned indictments against Ford on three counts of reckless homicide in the Ehrlich case, marking the first time in history that a corporation had been charged with murder. Ford claimed that the Pinto's fuel-tank design was the same as other subcompacts, and that the company had done everything possible to comply with the recall once it had been enacted. Due to a lack of evidence, the jury found Ford not guilty in that case. A California appeals court upheld the Grimshaw victory, however, ordering Ford to pay $6.6 million and stating that the company's "institutional mentality was shown to be one of callous indifference to public safety."
Ford Pinto on fireShow Article
Just 33 months after its launch, the millionth Ford Fiesta was built at Ford's Cologne (Germany) facility, breaking all previous European production records. The Fiesta was originally developed under the project name "Bobcat" (not to be confused with the subsequent rebadged Mercury variant of the Ford Pinto) and approved for development by Henry Ford II in September 1972, just after the launch of two comparable cars – the Fiat 127 and Renault 5. The Fiesta was an all new car in the supermini segment, and was the smallest car made by Ford. Development targets indicated a production cost US$100 less than the current Escort. The car was to have a wheelbase longer than that of the Fiat 127, but with overall length shorter than that of Ford's Escort. The final proposal was developed by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia. The project was approved for production in late 1973, with Ford's engineering centres in Cologne and Dunton (Essex) collaborating. Ford estimated that 500,000 Fiestas a year would be produced, and built an all-new factory near Valencia, Spain; a trans-axle factory near Bordeaux, France; factory extensions for the assembly plants in Dagenham, UK. Final assembly also took place in Valencia. The name Fiesta (meaning "party" in Spanish) belonged to General Motors, used as a trim level on Oldsmobile estate models, when the car was designed and was freely given for Ford to use on their new B-class car. After years of speculation by the motoring press about Ford's new car, it was subject to a succession of carefully crafted press leaks from the end of 1975. A Fiesta was on display at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race in June 1976, and the car went on sale in France and Germany in September 1976; to the frustration of UK dealerships, right hand drive versions only began to appear in January 1977. Its initial competitors in Europe, apart from the Fiat 127 and Renault 5, included the Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Chevette. Chrysler UK were also about to launch the Sunbeam by this stage, and British Leyland was working on a new supermini which was launched as the Austin Metro in 1980.
The last convertible Volkswagen Beetle was produced. The VW "Bug" was a popular car throughout the 1970s, leading to innovations such as sun roofs and convertible tops, in an otherwise unchanging design.
VW convertible Beetle (1959)Show Article
Ford launched one of the most important new cars of the year – the third generation Escort. Codenamed "Erika", the car, Ford Europe's second front-wheel drive, was originally meant to be called the "Ford Erika", but ended up retaining the Escort name. Some say this was due to British consumers reluctance to let go of the "Escort" badge (as the first two generations of Escort had been among Britain's most popular cars, with the MK2 being Britain's best selling car in 1976), and some say that the Germans were concerned with the song Erika, which was a famous battlemarch of the German armed forces during World War II. Unlike the Mark II, which had essentially been a reskin of the original 1968 platform, the Mark III was a completely new "wheels-up" design, and was conceived as a hi-tech, high-efficiency vehicle which would compete with the Volkswagen Golf – considered at the time the class benchmark, and indeed the car was launched with the advertising tagline "Simple is Efficient". From launch, the car was available in base (Popular), L, GL, Ghia and XR3 trim.
Ford Escort Mk IIIShow Article
The 20,000,000th Volkswagen Beetle was produced at the Volkswagen plant in Puebla, Mexico. Volkswagen first came to Mexico in 1954 as part of a museum exhibit entitled "Germany and Its Industry." That same year, 250 Beetles were assembled in Mexico. By 1962, Volkswagen had acquired its first assembly plant in Xalostoc, where the company would eventually assemble 50,000 Beetles. Pleased with the new Latin American marketplace, Volkswagen executives made plans to construct a facility in Puebla, a city an hour south of Mexico City. In 1967, the first Beetle was produced at the Puebla plant. Before closing, the Puebla plant produced more than 1.6 million vehicles.
The Malaysian car manufacturer, Proton Holdings Berhad (stylised PROTON), was officially founded. The concept of a National Car was conceived in 1979 by Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia with the goal of enhancing Malaysian industry. Proton actually comes from PeRusahaan OTOmobil Nasional which roughly translates to National Automobile Enterprise in Malaysian. At first, parts and technology came from Mitsubishi but later on, as experience accumulated, Proton became independent even if most of the cars were still based on Mitsubishi models. Their first model which was launched in 1985 was called the Proton Saga. Soon after the first Sagas were rolling on Malaysian streets, exports started to Bangladesh (1986) and by 1987 Proton had already made 50,000 units.That same year a distribution agreement with a UK dealer was made in order to ship Sagas over to the British Isles but that would materialize only in 1989, when 150,000 units were already produced and plans for a engine assembly plant were already under way, the inauguration being celebrated in 1991.A new model, the Proton Ishwara was launched in 1992 and then in 1993 the Wira, a model based on the Mitsubishi Colt, which enjoyed moderate success with 220,000 units sold over 2 years. In 1994, the Proton Satria joined the model line-up and in 1996 the Proton Tiara. With thousands of models sold both domestically and internationally (in about 31 countries around the world), Proton was gaining in financial power which enabled it to purchase Lotus technologies in 1996, a move which earned it a much needed technological infusion. a new sports model car will emerge from this partnership, the Proton Ultimate, announced for the first time in 2001.Another partnership was announced in 2004 with Volkswagen AG where the Malaysian manufacturer would gain access to German technology and in return it would offer its facilities for foreign car manufacturing. However, this plan fell through by 2006, when Volkswagen announced the two companies would go their separate ways because they couldn't agree on the terms.That same year, Proton suffered a massive drop in sales which caused a $169 million loss in profit. This was the basis of the rumor that Volkswagen was actually interested in purchasing 51% of the company. Interestingly enough, just by announcing that Proton would try to get out of the crisis alone, the company's stock dropped overnight to an all-time low.
The Ford Orion was introduced in Europe. Over 3.5 million Orion’s, which was in essence a saloon version of the Ford Escort, were sold throughout the car's 10-year life. In the early 1980s, Ford's model line-up and image was changing, reflecting shifting patterns in the new car market across Western Europe at this time, as front-wheel drive gradually became more popular than rear-wheel drive and hatchbacks began to eclipse traditional saloons and estates. The company's older saloon line-up was replaced mainly by hatchbacks, starting with the Escort MK3 in 1980 and the new Sierra (which replaced the Cortina) in 1982. By 1985, even the top-of-the-range Granada would offer a hatchback bodystyle, with the saloon and estate models not debuting until the early 1990s, while a booted version of the Sierra was finally launched in 1987. The Orion was designed to fill the market demand for a traditional four-door saloon, which had been absent from the Escort range since the end of MK2 production in 1980, and also in larger cars by the demise of the hugely popular Cortina in 1982. The Orion looked similar to a contemporary Escort at the front apart from the different grille design, but the rear of the Orion had a long flat boot (making the car a three-box saloon design) rather than a hatchback or estate body like the Escort. Although the Orion's length was similar to that of the contemporary Ford Sierra (then only available as a hatchback) it had more rear legroom and a larger boot. This concept was similar to the Volkswagen Jetta, the saloon version of the Golf hatchback which had been on sale since 1979. Ford initially offered the Orion in only GL and Ghia trim levels, missing out on the lower specification levels available on the Escort, as well as the basic 1100cc engine. Only 1300 cc and 1600 cc CVH engine options were available from launch (though with both carburettor and fuel injection options on the 1.6 Ghia). A lower specification L model was introduced in 1984 as was the option of a 1.6 diesel engine on L and GL models. The Orion Ghia 1.6i standard features included central locking, sunroof, sport front seats, electric windows, rear head restraints, tachometer and an information binnacle informing the driver when the vehicle needed maintenance. All of these features were rare equipment on a small family car in the 1980s, giving the Orion upmarket pretensions. The Orion 1.6i shared an engine with the Escort XR3i and offered similar performance and handling without the insurance unfriendly tag that the XR badge started to command in the late 1980s due to its popularity with car thieves - and it was also less frequently targeted by thieves than the Escort XR3i or RS Turbo. The 1.6i was topped by a luxury limited edition called the 1600E in the autumn of 1988, the 1600E name harking back to the Mark II Ford Cortina 1600E from 20 years earlier, as both were considered to be well-equipped saloon cars with decent performance for the working person. The Orion 1600E was available in black, white and metallic grey and had RS alloys, wood cappings on the dashboard and doors, and grey leather seats. Only 1,600 were made, of which 1,000 had leather trim. With the facelift in 1986, Ford brought the styling and engineering of the Orion closer to the Escort's and lower-specification models crept into the range along with equipment levels being brought together between the two cars, and helped Orion sales increase further. The Orion also gained the new 1.4 "lean burn" petrol engine which was added to the Escort at this time. The success of the Orion across Europe, particularly in Britain (where it was among the top 10 selling cars every year from 1984 to 1990), was followed by several other manufacturers launching saloon versions of their popular hatchbacks. By 1986, General Motors had launched a saloon version of its Opel Kadett/Vauxhall Astra hatchback, which was sold as the Vauxhall Belmont on the British market. Austin Rover, on the other hand, made use of a Honda design for its new Rover 200 Series saloon, which was launched in 1984 and gave buyers a booted alternative to the Maestro hatchback, although with a totaly different platform, as the true booted variant of the Maestro was the larger and more upmarket Montego. The Orion was launched around the same time as the Fiat Regata, saloon and estate versions of the Ritmo (Strada in Britain), although the Regata was aimed further upmarket at cars like the Ford Sierra. The Orion was a strong seller in Britain, peaking as the seventh best selling car in 1987 and 1988 with over 70,000 sales.
The Austin and MG Montego’s were showcased to the press in the South of France. It was initially available as a four-door saloon only, filling the gap in the range left by the discontinuation of the Morris Ital saloon two months earlier. However, it would be produced alongside the Ital estate until that model was axed in August 1984. The estate variant was launched at the British International Motor Show in October of that year. The 150 bhp (112 kW) MG turbocharged variant was released in early 1985 as the fastest production MG ever with a 0–60 mph time of 7.3 seconds, and a top speed of 126 mph (203 km/h). The Vanden Plas version, and featured leather seats, walnut veneer and features such as electric windows, central locking and power door mirrors. Like the Maestro, the Montego suffered from its overly long development phase, which had been begun in 1975 and which was hampered throughout by the industrial turmoil that plagued both British Leyland and Austin Rover Group during this period. The Ryder Report had recommended the costly modernization of both the Longbridge and Cowley factories, and since Longbridge was to come on stream first - the Austin Metro was put in production first, even though its design had been started after the Maestro/Montego. As a direct result of this delay, the two cars were now stylistically out of step, having been styled by several different designers - Ian Beech, David Bache, Roger Tucker and finally, Roy Axe, had all contributed to the Montego's styling. Arguably, both the Maestro and Montego had been compromised by the re-use of a single platform, doors and wheelbase to bridge two size classes - a mistake that BMC/BL had made before with the Austin 1800 and the Austin Maxi in the 1960s. Indeed, Roy Axe, when installed as Austin Rover's director of design in 1982 was so horrified by the design of the Maestro and Montego when he first viewed them in prototype form recommended that they be scrapped and the whole design exercise restarted. Like many BL cars before it, early Montegos suffered from build quality and reliability problems which badly damaged the car's reputation amongst the public. In some ways, the technology was ahead of its time, notably the solid-state instrumentation and engine management systems, but the "talking" dashboard fitted to high-end models (and initially used to promote the Montego as an advanced high-tech offering) was prone to irritating faults and came to be regarded as something of an embarrassment by BL and the British press. This feature was discontinued after a short period. There were also problems with the early sets of body-coloured bumpers which tended to crack in cold weather at the slightest impact. Development on the Montego continued. A replacement was proposed by Roy Axe in 1986, which would have been the existing Montego core structure clothed with new outer panels to mimic the design language set by the recently launched Rover 800-series, and would have been designated the Rover 400-series. This concept, designated AR16, would have also spawned a five-door hatchback version (designated AR17) to better compete with the Ford Sierra and Vauxhall Cavalier. The AR16/17 concepts were however abandoned due to lack of funds, and a facelift to the existing car (designated AR9) released in 1988 enhanced its appeal, which was buoyed up by both the Perkins-engined Diesel model, and the seven-seater version of the "Countryman" estate. The 2-litre turbodiesel (often known by its Perkins designation 'Prima') was a development of the O-Series petrol engine already used in the range. The diesel saloon won a CAR magazine 'giant test' against the Citroën BX (1.8 XUDT), the then new Peugeot 405 (1.8 XUDT) and Audi 80 (1.6) turbo diesels. They rated the 405 the best car, followed by the BX and then the Montego, with the Audi coming in last. "But if people buy diesels, and turbo diesel for their economy, the winner has to be the Montego. ...its engine is - even when roundly thrashed - more than 10% more economical than the rest. For those isolated moments when cost control is not of the essence, the Montego is a car you can enjoy too. The steering and driving position are quite excellent. ...the suspension as 'impressively refined'. It is silent over rough bumps, poised and well damped." The turbo diesel became a favourite of the RAF for officer transport. Car Mechanics Magazine ran an RAF officer transport de-mobbed Montego bought from a Ministry of Defence auction in 1996.The facelift also saw the phasing out of the Austin name. These late-1980s models had a badge resembling the Rover Viking longship, but it was not identical, nor did the word "Rover" ever appear on the cars.Though the car failed to match its rivals, such as the Volkswagen Passat, the car sold well[clarification needed] to the likes of the Ford Sierra and Vauxhall Cavalier. By the early 1990s, the Montego was terminally aged, and production effectively ceased when the replacement car, the Rover 600, was launched in 1993 (special fleet orders were hand-built until 1994, while estates continued until 1995). In its final year, What Car? magazine said "Austin Rover's once 'great white hope', Montego matured into a very decent car — but nobody noticed". The chassis development for the Montego and Maestro's rear suspension was used as a basis for later Rover cars, and was well regarded. Montegos continued to be built in small numbers in CKD form at the Cowley plant in Oxford until 1994, when production finally ended. The last car was signed by all those that worked on it, and is now on display at the British Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire. A total of 546,000 Austin/Rover Montegos and 23,000 MG Montegos were produced, with Britain by far being the biggest market for the car. In all, 436,000 Montegos were sold in the UK between 1984 and 1995. In August 2006, a survey by Auto Express revealed that the Montego was Britain's eighth-most scrapped car, with just 8,988 still in working order. Contributing to this, areas of the bodywork that were to be covered by plastic trim (such as the front and rear bumpers) were left unpainted and thus unprotected. In addition, pre-1989 models fitted with the A and S-series engines cannot run on unleaded petrol without the cylinder head being converted or needing fuel additives. This led to many owners simply scrapping the cars, as leaded petrol was removed from sale in Britain after 1999, and by 2003 most petrol stations had stopped selling LRP (lead replacement petrol) due to the falling demand for it. The Austin Montego, like many other Austin Rover cars at the time, offered a high luxury model. Sold opposite the MG, the Montego Vanden Plas was the luxury alternative. The Vanden Plas featured leather seats and door cards (velour in the estate version), powered windows, mirrors, door locks and sunroof. Alloy wheels were offered and later became standard on all cars. An automatic gearbox was also offered. It was available in both saloon and estate bodystyles. All Vanden Plas Montegos were 2.0 litres, either EFi (electronic fuel injection) or standard carburettor engines.
MG MontegoShow Article
The first SEAT Ibiza rolled off the assembly line in the Zone Franca plant, the first entirely Spanish car of the new SEAT generation. The Ibiza's sales success gave the SEAT marque a platform to build on, as it looked to increase sales in following years. This version, while it established the now classic Ibiza shape, was advertised as having "Italian styling and German engines": having its bodywork been designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro's Italdesign, and being prepared for industrialisation by the German manufacturer Karmann. It was based on the SEAT Ronda, a small family car, which in turn was based on the Fiat Ritmo. The gearbox and powertrain were developed in collaboration with Porsche, thus named under licence System Porsche. Despite Porsche's direct involvement in the Ibiza's engines, it was only after paying a royalty of 7 German marks per car sold back to Porsche that SEAT gained the right to put the 'System Porsche' inscription on the engine blocks. By the time Giugiaro was assigned to the Ibiza project, his previous proposal for the second generation of the Volkswagen Golf had been rejected by Volkswagen. So when SEAT approached him with the proposal for a spacious supermini class contender, that particular project was reincarnated as the first generation of the SEAT Ibiza. Using a compact car as basis, in terms of size, it was larger than most superminis like the Ford Fiesta and Opel Corsa/Vauxhall Nova, but smaller than any small family car such as the Ford Escort and Opel Kadett/Vauxhall Astra. The luggage capacity started from 320 litres and increased to 1,200 litres after folding rear seats. It was launched on the United Kingdom market in September 1985, when the brand was launched there, along with the Malaga saloon. It largely competed with budget offerings like the Hyundai Pony, and gave budget buyers a more modern alternative to the outdated offerings from Lada, Škoda, Yugo and FSO. After a slow start, sales picked up and reached the 10,000-a-year milestone by the end of the decade. The interior space was good but styling was fairly unimaginative even though it was known for having a rather quirky interior instrument layout, marked by a lack of control stalks. The indicators were operated by a rocker-switch, and the headlights by a sliding switch. It had three principal trim levels (L, GL and GLX) with bodyworks of 3 and 5 doors and several versions such as Base, Special, Disco, Chrono, Designer, Fashion, SXi etc. As power outputs dropped due to more stringent emissions requirements, a 1.7-litre version of the engine was developed for the Sportline version. For the same reason, a 109 PS (80 kW) turbocharged version of the 1.5-litre engine was developed for the Swiss market and presented in March 1989. In the meantime, SEAT had already signed a cooperation agreement with Volkswagen (1982) and in 1986 the German car maker became SEAT's major shareholder. Though a light restyling of the Ibiza Mk1 came in late 1988 with a moderate facelift in the exterior, a less radical interior and many changes in the mechanical parts, the most profound restyling was launched in 1991 under the name New style, although by now an all-new Ibiza was being developed. The following year, in February 1992, SEAT launched the Ibiza "Serie Olímpica" to celebrate SEAT's participation in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona as a sponsor, and the SEAT Ibiza Mk1 along with the SEAT Toledo Mk1 became the official cars of the Games. The larger sedan version SEAT Málaga was a closer relative to the SEAT Ronda, although it shared engines with the Ibiza.
The last Volkswagen Rabbit rolled off the assembly line in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, US. Over 11 million of the economical cars had been produced.
Vauxhall unveiled the Astra Mk2, which went on sale in October. It used the same range of engines and running gear as the Mark 1, but with a completely restyled body with better aerodynamics. It was voted 1985 European Car of the Year. Long-lived, the Mark 2 was available in estate, hatchback, saloon and cabriolet versions. The saloon was launched in January 1986 and sold as the Vauxhall Belmont; this trend to brand saloon models independently of hatchbacks was also used by other manufacturers of the period, with examples including the Ford Orion and the Volkswagen Jetta. However, this strategy was mostly unsuccessful, as this was Vauxhall's only attempt at badging its hatchback-based saloon as a separate model, and Ford rebadged its Orion range as Escorts in September 1993. In 1987 a special one off "design exercise" based on a 1986 1.8 GTE was built by the Ellesmere Port factory to celebrate its 25th (Silver) Anniversary. The Astra GTE "Quicksilver" was first shown at the British International Motor show in 1987 and displayed in the Ellesmere Port showroom throughout the Plant's "Silver Anniversary" year. Bertone built 6,764 cabriolets from 1987 to 1993. These came as 1.6 (with 82 bhp (61 kW)) and 2-litre (115 bhp (86 kW)) GTEs, the latter available with powered roof and electric windows. These cars are praised for their shake-free shells and their looks.
Vauxhall Astra Mk2Show Article
Privatisation of Volkswagen AG was approved by the West German government.Show Article
Volkswagen was founded in 1937 as a public concern by the then Nazi government to sell the Volkswagen Beetle. After the Second World War in 1945, the British Army took control of the bomb-shattered factory and restarted Beetle production for the difficult post-war years which Germany had to face. In 1948, the British Government handed the company back over to the German state, where it was managed by ex-Opel chief Heinrich Nordhoff. In 1960, upon the floatation of part of the German federal government's stake in the company on the German stock market, its name became Volkswagenwerk Aktiengesellschaft (Aktiengesellschaft, abbreviated AG, being equivalent to the English Corp[oration] or American Inc[orporated]). The name was changed to VOLKSWAGEN AG on this day to reflect the company's increasing global diversification from its headquarters and main plant, the Volkswagenwerk in Wolfsburg, Germany.
Not many Chicagoans had an opportunity to take a close look at an exotic Lamborghini Countach, except at the 1986 auto show. Built in Italy, the Countach had scissors-style doors and a sticker price that topped a whopping $100,000. The same year, marketers for the new Yugo tried in vain to equate the low-budget, Yugoslavian-built minicar with the legendary Volkswagen Beetle and Ford Model T. Although the Yugo's price was tempting, reliability problems cropped up quickly.
Canadian driver Bertrand Fabi suffered a terrible accident when testing a Ralt RT30 - Volkswagen for West Surrey Racing in a private session at Goodwood, England. Fabi had just pitted and possibly due to cold tyres he went off the road and overturned. He sustained serious head injuries in the crash, and died the following day in a hospital in Chichester, not far from the circuit.Show Article
The French government ruled against the privatisation of leading French carmaker Renault. The privatisation of Renault, France's second largest carmaker to PSA Peugeot, has remained a highly debated issue since the 1986 decision. In 1994, the government sold shares of Renault to the public for the first time at 165 francs per share. The sale dramatically increased the company's revenue, but the French government remained the majority shareholder. Between 1996 and 1997, the market for cars in Europe grew precipitously, with the most marked increases in France. Renault, often scorned for its "public sector" policies, failed to capitalise on the growing markets. Instead foreign competitors like Volkswagen and Fiat took advantage. In 1996, Renault lost over $800 million. Renault and Peugeot were the two weakest of Europe's Big Seven carmakers. Economists blame the French carmakers lack of success on its protectionist policies, and more specifically on the unwillingness of PSA Peugeot and Renault to merge, a manoeuvre that would radically lower production costs for both auto-making giants. The question remains whether or not the government will fully privatise Renault. With economic boundaries in Europe falling rapidly, the days of France's nationally run car company may be numbered.Show Article
Volkswagenwerk AG obtained a majority interest in "Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo, SA" (SEAT), initially with 51 % of the share capital. SEAT became the third independent brand within the Volkswagen Group.Show Article
SEAT officially became a brand of the Volkswagen Group.Show Article
Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, the media reported that Chrysler had paid $25 million for Lamborghini, which at the time was experiencing financial difficulties. Lamborghini was established in 1963 by Ferruccio Lamborghini (1916-1993), a wealthy Italian industrialist who made his fortune building tractors and air-conditioning systems, among other ventures. Lamborghini owned a variety of sports cars, including Ferraris. According to legend, after experiencing mechanical problems with his Ferraris, he tried to meet with Enzo Ferrari, the carmaker´s founder. When Enzo Ferrari turned him down, Ferruccio Lamborghini decided to build cars that would be even better than Ferrari´s. Lamborghini´s first car, the 350 GTV, a two-seat coupe with a V12 engine, launched in 1963. Chrysler eventually sold it to a Malaysian investment group Mycom Setdco and Indonesian group V'Power Corporation in 1994. In 1998, Mycom Setdco and V'Power sold Lamborghini to the Volkswagen Group where it was placed under the control of the group's Audi division.
Lamborghini 400GT (1964)Show Article
The 1990 Chicago Auto Show offered visitors a glimpse of the 1991 model Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle, successor to the Bronco II. Mazda, which shared several vehicle designs with Ford, launched a Ford-built, Explorer-like Navajo sport-utility. Also seen at the 82nd edition of the US's largest auto show was the Volkswagen Corrado. Equipped with a supercharged "G-Charger" engine, the four-passenger replacement for the Scirocco featured an "active" rear spoiler that extended automatically above 45 mph. Toyota's new Lexus luxury division launched its flagship saloon packed with just about every comfort and convenience feature, plus a 4.0-liter V-8 engine.
SEAT Toledo made its debut at the Barcelona Motor Show. The initial version of the SEAT Toledo (Typ 1L) was launched as a five-door liftback sedan, and its sales career lasted from 1991 to 1999. This generation of the Toledo was the first SEAT automobile developed entirely under Volkswagen Group ownership, and it was built on the Golf Mk2 Volkswagen Group A2 platform with a 550 litre boot expandable to 1360 litres when folding rear seats, larger in shape and size than the Volkswagen Jetta/Vento's combined with the advantage of a tailgate.As saloon versions of small family cars were rare in Europe, it was sometimes considered a large family car due to its overall length and boot size, despite having comparably less rear leg room, and pricing closer to small family cars. It went on sale in most of Europe in May 1991, though it did not arrive on the British market until October 1991.The Toledo initially featured underpowered engines compared to the Ibiza and Málaga's 'System Porsche' units, such as a base 1.6 L 75 PS (55 kW; 74 bhp) petrol engine, and a GT version using the 2.0 L 115 PS (85 kW; 113 bhp) engine. Later, the Toledo would see the addition of more powerful versions, including a 150 PS (110 kW; 148 bhp) 2.0 GTI 16v, and 110 PS (81 kW; 108 bhp) 1.9 TDI which, like many diesel engines built since 1996 by the Volkswagen Group, is advertised as capable of running on either mineral diesel or biodiesel.This model later received a mild facelift in 1996. Sales were not strong however, as has been the case for all the generations of the Toledo.
Seat Toledo (1991)Show Article
Ford and Volkswagen formed AutoEuropa, joint venture to produce new multipurpose vehicles at Setubal, Portugal.Show Article
Production of the Ford Orion ended. A total of 534,239 Orions were sold throughout the car's 10-year life. Orion Mark I: In the early 1980s, Ford's model line-up and image was changing. The company's older saloon line-up was replaced mainly by hatchbacks, from the Escort to the Granada and the new Sierra (which replaced the Cortina). The Orion was designed to fill the market demand for a traditional four-door saloon, left by the demise of the Cortina. The Orion looked similar to a contemporary Escort at the front, but the rear of the body was totally different; the Orion had a long flat boot (making the car a three-box saloon design) rather than a Hatchback or Station wagon body like the Escort. Although the Orion's length was similar to that of the contemporary Ford Sierra,[clarification needed] the latter had more rear legroom with the Orion having a larger boot. Ford initially offered the Orion in only GL and Ghia trim levels, missing out on the very lowest specification levels available on the Escort. Only 1300 cc and 1600 cc CVH engine options were available (though with both Carburettor and Fuel injection options on the 1.6 Ghia). A lower specification L model was introduced in 1984 as was the option of a 1.6 Diesel engine on L and GL models.The Orion Ghia 1.6i standard features included Central locking, sunroof, front sport seats, electric windows, rear head restraints, tachometer and an information binnacle informing the driver when the vehicle needed maintenance. All of these features were rare equipment on a small family car in the 1980s, giving the Orion upmarket pretensions. Other cars in the small executive saloon class competing with the Orion included the Volkswagen Jetta, Mercedes-Benz 190, Rover 200, Vauxhall Belmont, Daihatsu Charmant, BMW E30 and the Volvo 360. The Orion 1.6i shared the same engine as the Escort XR3i and offered similar performance and handling without the insurance unfriendly tag that the XR badge started to command in the late 1980s. The 1.6i was topped by a luxury limited edition called the 1600E in 1989, the 1600E name harking back to the Mark II Ford Cortina 1600E as both were considered as decent performance and well-equipped saloon cars for the working person. The Orion 1600E was available in black, white and metallic grey and had RS alloys, wood cappings on the dashboard and doors, and grey leather seats. Only 1,600 were made, and only 1,000 of these had leather trim. Eventually though, as the years went by, Ford brought the styling and engineering of the Orion closer to the Escort's. Lower-specification models crept into the range. Ford Orion Mark II: In 1986, the Orion received the same facelift as the rest of the Escort range. The Mark II brought the option of anti-lock-brakes (Anti-lock braking system) and a heated front windscreen to the range. The CVH engines were upgraded and were now 'lean burn units' and various models in the range could run on Unleaded fuel without modifications to the cylinder head or to the fuel system. Improved locks were fitted across the range, and a number of other improvements were carried out. Orion Mark III: The third generation Orion had its début in September 1990, but received the similar media criticism that the Escort endured for its lack of design flair as well as the disappointing refinement of some of its engines — particularly the low powered 1.3 OHV and 1.4 OHC petrol units. As with the Escort, the arrival of the Zetec 16 Valve engines and Suspension (vehicle) changes in 1992 improved the Orion's dynamic qualities. The range topping Orion Ghia Si (sports injection) had 130 bhp (97 kW) out of its 1.8L DOHC Zetec unit, making this the fastest production model Orion that Ford produced through the cars 10 year life. Saloon versions of later Escort series: In September 1993, a decade after the cars launch Ford dropped the Orion badge (following Vauxhall Motors drop of the Vauxhall Belmont in 1991) in most markets (excepting Argentina) and simply used the Escort trademark for all body styles; amongst other things this kept the Escort in its traditionally commanding position high in sales charts. The Escort saloon was discontinued in 1998, when production was pruned back on the launch of the Focus. Sales of the Escort-badged saloon were not as strong as those achieved by the Orion, as saloons of this size continued to fall in popularity throughout the 1990s.
Ford produced the three millionth Ford Transit. In continuous production since 1965 in four basic generations to the present day, the van was produced initially at Ford's Langley facility in Berkshire (a former WW2 aircraft factory which produced the Hawker Hurricane fighter), but as demand outstripped the capability of the plant, production was moved to Southampton, where it has remained ever since. Transits have also been produced in Ford's Genk factory in Belgium. The Mk.1 Transit was introduced to replace the Ford Thames, a small van noted for its narrow track and was in direct competition with similar looking vehicles from Rootes's Commer range. The Thames failed to win over company users in significant enough numbers, so Ford went back to the drawing board. Henry Ford II's revolutionary step was to combine the engineering effort of Ford of Britain, and Ford of Germany together to create a prototype for the Ford of Europe of today - previously the two subsidiaries had been in direct competition with each other. The Transit was a huge departure from the European commercial vehicles of the day - its broad track and American-ized styling gave it a huge advantage in carrying capacity over comparable vehicles of the day and revolutionised light goods transport. Most of the Transit's mechanical components were adapted from Ford's car range of the time. Another key to the Transit's success was the sheer number of different body styles - panel vans in long and short wheelbase forms, pick-up truck, minibuses, crew-cabs to name but a few. The engines used were the Essex V4 for the petrol engined version in 1.7 L and 2.0 L capacities, while a 41 bhp (31 kW) diesel unit sourced from Perkins was also offered. The Perkins diesel engine was too long to fit under the Transit's stubby nose section, which had to be restyled for the diesel version. The 1978 Transit Mk.2 was essentially a facelift of the predecessor, with a restyled nose section, new interior, and the introduction of the Pinto engine from the Cortina in place of the Essex V4. High performance versions intended for police or ambulance use used the 3.0 L V6 version of the Essex engine. Ford's own "York" diesel engine was made available during this time also in place of the rather underpowered Perkins unit. Today most Transits sold are diesel-powered. The Mk.3 version appeared in 1986 and was notable for its all-new bodyshell, which was of "one-box" design (i.e the windscreen and engine hood are at the same angle), and the front suspension was changed to fully independent configuration. A major facelift in 1995 gave the Transit a new nose and dashboard, along with the DOHC 16 valve version of the Pinto engine in the gasoline-powered versions. Ford introduced in 2002 the Transit Connect, a smaller panel van aimed at replacing the older Escort and Fiesta based models. It shares very little with the full-size Transit in terms of engineering, although is produced alongside the larger van in a new purpose built facility in Turkey. The fourth generation of the Transit was officially launched in January 2013 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. A OneFord globally developed vehicle, the new-generation Transit was designed by Ford of Europe and co-developed with Ford in North America. In a break from the previous generation of the Transit, there are two distinct body forms: Mid-size front wheel drive: now a distinct model, branded Transit/Tourneo Custom. It is intended to compete with vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz Vito/Viano and Volkswagen Transporter T5. Full size rear wheel drive: a full size version, to enable Transit to better replace the outgoing 40-year-old Econoline/E-Series in the North American market. While the front-wheel drive V347 Transit was sold alongside the E-Series in Mexico starting in 2007 (replacing the Freestar minivan), this generation of the Transit is the first to be officially sold in the United States and Canada. As part of the development cycle, Ford loaned examples of the previous-generation (V347/348) Transit to high-mileage drivers in the United States for evaluation purposes and durability testing. Both versions external design look evolved from the New Edge styling used from the previous-generation model to the Kinetic design adopted by the OneFord global models since 2010; the interior drew cues from the third generation Ford Focus. The Transit has been the bestselling light commercial van in Europe for over 50 years, and in some countries the name "Transit" has passed into common usage as a term applying to any light commercial van.
The Rover 400 was officially launched, and was met with a sense of muted antipathy from the press. It was clear to even the most casual observer that this car was almost pure Honda in its design – in fact, to more seasoned observers, the changes that Rover had made were disappointing in their ineffectiveness. In a nutshell, the new mid-sized Rover appeared to be almost as much a Honda (as opposed to a British car) as the original joint-venture – the Triumph Acclaim – had been back in 1981. Many questions were soon asked of Rover: Why such a disappointing design? Had it not been for BMW, would this have been the shape of Rovers in the future? Rear view was more appealing than the frontal aspect, but somehow the proportions seemed slightly wrong – the cause probably being attributable to the long nose and short, truncated tail. The saloon version, which appeared early in 1996, addressed this issue admirably – and proved to be one of a very rare breed of cars: a well-balanced notch-from-hatch conversion.Rear view was more appealing than the frontal aspect, but somehow the proportions seemed slightly wrong – the cause probably being attributable to the long nose and short, truncated tail. The saloon version, which appeared early in 1996, addressed this issue admirably – and proved to be one of a very rare breed of cars: a well-balanced notch-from-hatch conversion. Rear view was more appealing than the frontal aspect, but somehow the proportions seemed slightly wrong – the cause probably being attributable to the long nose and short, truncated tail. The saloon version, which appeared early in 1996, addressed this issue admirably – and proved to be one of a very rare breed of cars: a well-balanced notch-from-hatch conversion. As it was, there was a lot to applaud the Rover 400 for, though: the car marked the first application for the new, enlarged version of the K-series engine – now cleverly expanded to 1589cc. Refinement and performance of this new version was certainly up to scratch, and like its smaller brother, it proved to be more than a match for its Honda counterpart. This change in engine policy meant that in terms of petrol powered units, the range was now powered entirely by British engines (1.6-litre automatic, aside), whilst the diesel versions were now L-series powered (as opposed to Peugeot XUD-powered). The 400 range offered a wide variety of power options – 1.4-litres through to the 2.0-litre T-series engine – and even though the entry-level model was somewhat smaller than its rivals, Rover countered the lack of cubic capacity with a high specific output. Although the 136bhp version of the T-series engine found a natural home in the Rover 400, it was the 2.0-litre version of the KV6 engine (codename Merlin) that really excited the company. Producing a healthy 150bhp, the KV6 was under development and running in Rover 400 “mules” even before the car was launched – but it would not be until the arrival of the facelifted Rover 45 model in 1999 that a V6-powered Rover midliner entered the sales catalogue. Be that as it may, the highlight of the K-series was somewhat overshadowed by the rest of the car. The people that mattered – the customers – found the Rover 400 somewhat disappointing and overpriced. If the premium pricing policy seemed like a winner with the classy and compact R8, its replacement certainly did not appear to have the looks to justify the continuation of this policy. Of course, Rover countered this allegation by telling everyone to wait for the saloon version, due in early 1996, but it did not ease the fact that the new 400 hatchback was not what the public wanted at the time, and was certainly not offered at a favourable price. Autocar magazine was reasonably pleased with the 416i and reported so in their road test. The verdict was lukewarm – and they gave the car qualified approval: “with looks that will be routinely mistaken for Honda’s new five-door Civic, this latest 400 needed to be convincingly different beneath the badge. This it achieves by a whisker. With that sweet spinning, characterful K-series engine and an outstanding urban ride quality, Rover has created a car that feels genuinely unique, not just a cynical badge engineered Honda. Sure, Peugeot’s 306 still has the dynamic measure of this car, but compared with the dull homogeneity of the competition from Ford and Vauxhall, the 416i offers up just enough “typically Rover” character, just enough specialness to raise it above the common horde. But only just.” At least Autocar were realistic in their choice of rivals for this car, plucking them from the small/medium arena. In Rover’s launch advertising for the 400, they pitched it against such luminaries as the Ford Mondeo, Renault Laguna and Citroën Xantia. Interestingly, it compared very well to all-comers in this class on the handpicked “ride quality” index figure. All but the Citroën, that is. Profile shot of the 400 saloon shows that classy-looking saloons can be sired from hatchbacks – maybe the public's perception of the Rover 400 range would be remarkably different had this version been launched first.Profile shot of the 400 saloon shows that classy-looking saloons can be sired from hatchbacks – maybe the public's perception of the Rover 400 range would be remarkably different had this version been launched first. Sales of the Rover 400 in the UK were buoyant, and in direct comparison with the combined sales of the outgoing R8 400 and Montego, they appeared to be quite good. But the comparison is certainly muddied by the fact that the 400 was designed to fight in the “D class” rather than the upper end of the “C class”, as marketeers liked to refer to the differing market sectors. So in the heart of the UK market, where Ford and Vauxhall continued to make hay, Rover continued to appear almost mortally weak. In the first full year of sales, the 400, including the stylish saloon version, grabbed 3.15 per cent of the market – and although Rover continued to make noises about not chasing volume sales, the cold hard facts were that after allowing for Honda’s royalty payments on each 400 sold, profit margins were not huge. Export sales continued to make reasonable headway, so even though sales in the home market were suffering, Rover’s production volumes remained at a reasonable level – no doubt helped by the BMW connection. However, exports are affected by the fluctuations of the currency markets, and as we shall see, Rover and BMW would suffer terribly from these in later years. In 1997 and 1998, the Rover 400 captured 2.85 and 2.55 per cent of the UK market respectively, maintaining a regular top ten presence. By the following year, however, this had collapsed disastrously to 1.51 per cent. What had caused this collapse? Well, the product had never captured the public’s imagination in the way that the R8 had, but also, following the change in government (May 1997) and the strengthening of sterling against European currencies, the price of imported cars had become so much cheaper in relation to that of the domestically produced Rover. This allowed companies such as Renault (with the Megane) and Volkswagen (with the Golf) to make serious inroads into the Rover’s market. What made the situation even worse for Rover was the flipside: the price of UK cars became more expensive in export markets, so in order to remain price competitive, Rover needed to drop their prices to such an extent that they began to make serious losses. By 1999, BMW had begun to take emergency measures for Rover – and the first of those, was the replacement of the 400 by the 45 in December 1999.
Rover 400Show Article
The last ZR-1 Corvette - "King of the Hill" - rolled off the assembly line. Chevrolet general manager Jim Perkins and Chief Corvette Engineer Dave McLellan delivered the car to the National Corvette Museum. During its six year lifetime, 6939 ZR-1 Corvettes were built. The ZR-1 was distinguishable from other Corvette coupes by its wider tail section, 11" wide rear wheels and its new convex rear fascia with four square shaped taillights and a CHMSL (center high mounted stop lamp) attached to the top of the hatch glass instead of between the taillights. The ZR-1 displayed stunning ability both in terms of acceleration and handling capabilities, but carried with it an astonishingly high price. MSRP for the (375 hp) ZR-1 in 1990 was $58,995, almost twice the cost of a (250 hp) non-ZR-1, and had ballooned to $66,278 by 1995; some dealers successfully marked units as high as $100,000. Even at base MSRP, this meant that the ZR-1 was competing in the same price bracket as cars like the Porsche 964, making it a hard sell for GM dealers. In 1991, the ZR-1 and base model received updates to body work, interior, and wheels. The rear convex fascia that set the 1990 ZR-1 apart from the base model found its way to all models, making the high-priced ZR-1 even less distinguishable. Further changes were made in 1992, including extra ZR-1 badges on the fenders and the introduction of Acceleration Slip Regulation (ASR) or traction control. For model year 1993, Lotus design modifications were made to the cylinder heads, exhaust system and valvetrain of the LT5, bringing horsepower up from 375 to 405. In addition, a new exhaust gas recirculation system improved emissions control. The model remained nearly unchanged into the 1995 model year, after which the ZR-1 was discontinued as the result of waning interest, development of the LS series engines, cost and the coming of the C5 generation. A total of 6,939 ZR-1s were manufactured over the six-year period. Not until the debut of the C5 platform Z06 would Chevrolet have another production Corvette capable of matching the ZR-1's performance. Although the ZR-1 was extremely quick for its time (0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, and onto 180+ mph), the huge performance of the LT5 engine was matched by its robustness. As evidence of this, a stock ZR-1 set seven international and world records at a test track in Fort Stockton, Texas on March 1, 1990, verified by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) for the group II, class 11 category: 100 miles (160 km) at 175.600 mph (282.601 km/h) 500 miles (800 km) at 175.503 mph (282.445 km/h) 1,000 miles (1,600 km) at 174.428 mph (280.715 km/h) 5,000 km (3,100 mi) at 175.710 mph (282.778 km/h) (World Record) 5,000 miles (8,000 km) at 173.791 mph (279.690 km/h) (World Record) 12 Hours Endurance at 175.523 mph (282.477 km/h) 24 Hours Endurance at 175.885 mph (283.059 km/h) for 4,221.256 miles (6,793.453 km) (World Record) These records were later broken by the Volkswagen W12, a one-off concept car that never went into production.
1990 Corvette ZR-1Show Article
A total of 2,278 VW Beetles took part in a parade organised by the Volkswagen Aflicioado Club of Brazil on a race track near Sao Paulo, Brazil.Show Article
The third generation Rover 200 (R3) was launched. It was initially popular, being Britain's seventh-best-selling new car in 1996 through to 1998. The Rover 200, codenamed R3, was smaller than the Honda-based R8 cars. This was due to Rover's need to replace the ageing Metro, which by now was 15 years old. Although some elements of the previous 200 / 400 were carried over (most notably the front structure, heater, steering and front suspension), it was by-and-large an all-new car that had been developed by Rover. Honda did provide early body design support as a result of moving production of the Honda Concerto from Longbridge to Swindon, freeing up capacity for 60,000 units at Rover. At this point, the car had a cut-down version of the previous car's rear floor and suspension and was codenamed SK3. Lack of boot space and other factors led to Rover re-engineering the rear end to take a modified form of the Maestro rear suspension and the product was renamed R3. By the time the car was launched, Honda and Rover had already been "divorced" after the BMW takeover the previous year. The new 200 used K-Series petrol engines, most notably the 1.8 L VVC version from the MGF, and L-series diesel engine. During the mid 1990s the L-Series was a very competitive engine, regarded as second only to the VW TDI in overall performance, and an improvement over the R8s XUD, particularly in fuel economy while almost matching it for refinement. Launched with 1.4i 16v (105 PS (77 kW; 104 bhp)) and 1.6i 16v (111 PS (82 kW; 109 bhp)) petrol engines and 2.0 turbodiesel (86 PS (63 kW; 85 bhp) and intercooled 105 PS (77 kW; 104 bhp) versions) engines, the range grew later to include a 1.1i (60 PS (44 kW; 59 bhp)) and 1.4i 8v (75 PS (55 kW; 74 bhp)) engines and also 1.8 16v units in standard (120 PS (88 kW; 118 bhp)) and variable valve formats (145 PS (107 kW; 143 bhp)). R65 Peugeot/Rover Manual gearboxes carried over from the R8 Rover 200 were available across the range and a CVT option was available on the 1.6i 16v unit. The R3 featured a completely re-designed interior and dashboard to accommodate the fitment of a passenger airbag in line with new safety standards. The 1.8-litre models earned a certain amount of praise for their performance, whilst the intercooled turbo diesel was claimed as one of the fastest-accelerating diesel hatchbacks on the market in the late 1990s. Unlike its predecessor, the R3 was not available in Coupe, Cabriolet or Tourer bodystyles, although Rover updated these versions of the older model with mild styling revisions and the fitting of the new dashboard from the R3, which was possible due to the shared front bulkhead. In the UK, these models were no longer branded as 200/400 models, simply being referred to as the Rover Coupe, Cabriolet and Tourer. The Rover 200 might have been marketed as a supermini, it compares closely in size and engine range with contemporary models such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa. Instead Rover priced the car to compete with vehicles like the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Astra. Rover's only offering in the supermini segment at the time was the ageing Metro and this gap in the company's line-up needed to be filled. The third generation 200 was initially popular, being Britain's seventh-best-selling new car in 1996 through to 1998. Within three years it had fallen out of the top 10 completely and was being outsold by traditionally poorer selling cars like the Volkswagen Polo Mk3 and the Peugeot 206.
Rover 200 (R3)Show Article
Italian Dante Giacosa (91), an automobile designer whose small, economical cars, particularly the popular Fiat 500, helped motorize Italy in the 1950s, died. He was the head of design for Fiat for more than 40 years and managed the creation of some beloved cars, led by the Topolino. Maybe now that Fiat is returning to the U.S. through Chrysler in the form of the Cinquecento, he will be more broadly recognized. Giacosa was born in 1905 and took his studies at the Polytechnic in Turin before arriving at Fiat in 1928, following officer candidate school for the Italian armed services. The monstrous S.p.A. was under control of Giovanni Agnelli, with Cesare Momo as engineering chieftain, but Giacosa's true first boss at Fiat was Carlo Cavalli, a notable character in his own right: Trained as a lawyer, descended from a long line of Italian justices and barristers, but enthralled with engineering first. One of Giacosa's first projects was a highly advanced, multi-articulated road tractor for the military called the Pavesi. Its basic concept (much) later was revisited as the M561 Gamma Goat, evaluated by the U.S. Army during the post-Korea era, at first with Corvair power. That's probably the least-well-remembered vehicle with whose design Giacosa was ever associated. The best is unquestionably the Topolino, which came after he'd worked on Fiat rarities such as the C Cabriolet and the SS sports roadster, along with a record-shattering aero engine. By this time, chronic illness had forced Cavalli's retirement, elevating Giacosa to the post of lead engineer at Fiat. The company's lead product, at that time, was the 508 sedan, known widely as the Balilla. Italy was in the grip of Fascism by then, the early Thirties. Rome decreed that Fiat should build a new, miniature car, its price set at 5,000 lire, less than half the cost of a new Balilla. In hindsight, the original Fiat 500 shows that Giacosa's mind was envisioning eventual fundamentals of monocoque design principles, the Topolino's bodywork serving as part of its load-bearing structure and its tiny engine hung ahead of the radically light-drilled, dual-spar frame. The first 500 also incorporated a very basic form of independent front suspension, not what most might have expected from a Thirties car constructed to meet a government-dictated cheapness objective. Of course, it's fair to say that the like-minded regime in Germany was also building innovative, inexpensive cars around the same time, and that both self-declared nationalist dynasties collapsed spectacularly. Their best automotive engineers, on the other hand, prospered anew. Post-war, Giacosa redefined the light Fiat more than once. The first true, fresh effort was the Fiat 1400 sedan of 1950, which, as rebodied by Pinin Farina, became the Cisitalia. The addition of 500cc made it a much more usable engine. Money issues limited the Topolino to rear-wheel drive, but Giacosa insisted on transverse front drive for the Autobianchi Primula of 1964 and then, the Fiat 128 of 1969, a bigger-than-Mini car (with MacPherson struts) that beat both the Honda Civic and the first Volkswagen Golf to market. A true giant of European auto design, Giacosa died in 1996.
Dante GiacosaShow Article
Toni Schmücker (75), the fourth chief executive officer of the Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen AG) automobile company, following the handover of the company in 1948 to German control from the British at the end of Second World War ended, died.Show Article
A revolutionary new Volkswagen factory opened in Resende, Brazil. The million-square-meter Resende factory did not have an ordinary assembly line staffed by Volkswagen workers: In fact, the only people on Volkswagen's payroll were the quality-control supervisors. Independent subcontractors were responsible for putting together every part of the trucks and buses that the factory produced. This process, which Volkswagen called the "modular consortium," reduced the company's labor costs considerably by making them someone else's problem: The company simply purchased its labor from the lowest bidder. Eventually, Volkswagen hoped to export this new system to all of its factories in developing countries. In the modular consortium system, eight different subcontractors operated their own mini-assembly shops along the main line and each of those companies was responsible for installing and inspecting its own components. Any quality problems in the finished product were blamed on the subcontractor responsible.The system was an enormously profitable one for Volkswagen. The company was able to negotiate very low rates from its subcontractors for parts and labor, so it saved money on every truck and bus that passed through the Resende plant and could pass those savings along to its customers. Meanwhile, competitors who did not use a subcontractor system had difficulty matching Volkswagen's low prices. This facility may have been Volkswagen's "Dream Factory," as some reporters called it, but for General Motors it was a nightmare. The mastermind behind the modular consortium idea was VW's head of purchasing, Jose Ignacio Lopez de Arriortua, who had defected from GM three years before. When he left, he took millions of top-secret documents, plans and blueprints for a factory that GM called "Plant X": a plant, GM argued, that was remarkably similar to the one VW ended up building at Resende. By the end of 1996, Lopez and VW faced industrial-espionage charge in Germany and the U.S., as well as a hefty GM lawsuit, which they settled for millions of dollars the next year. (Lopez resigned from VW and fled to Spain, his home country, which refused to extradite him for trial.) Today, some 4,500 people work at the Resende plant. In all, it has produced more than 300,000 trucks and buses.
VW truck and bus plant, Resende, BrazilShow Article
Volkswagen executive Jose Ignacio Lopez resigned under charges of industrial espionage from General Motors (GM), his former employer. As part of a major lawsuit against Volkswagen, GM charged that Lopez, its former worldwide chief of purchasing, had stolen trade secrets from the company in 1993 when he defected to Volkswagen along with three other GM managers. Lopez's resignation was likely a result of pressure from the German carmaker, which sought to reach a settlement before the scheduled lawsuit began under U.S. jurisdiction. In January 1997, VW and GM announced a settlement in which Volkswagen would pay General Motors $100 million and agree to buy at least $1 billion in parts from GM. VW also confirmed that the three other former GM managers accused of industrial espionage had all either resigned or were due to take administrative leave. In return, GM agreed to drop all legal action.Show Article
A Chevrolet Corvette convertible featured on the cover of the 90th Chicago Auto Show program. A record-breaker crowd of 1,080,637 attended the 1998 show. Big hits at the annual event, were the Volkswagen New Beetle, 1999 Chevy Tahoe Z71, Ford Libre concept convertible, Mercedes-Benz Maybach, Kia sponsored Elan sports car, and the debut of next-generation Mitsubishi Galant.
Ferdinand Porsche Jr (88), who helped his father develop the Volkswagen Beetle before World War II and later founded the sports car firm that bears his name, died. Mr. Porsche, who was born near Vienna, had been involved in cars from childhood, driving his own small auto at age 10. "I came into the world at the same time as the auto, if you will," he once said. The family moved to Stuttgart, Germany, where his father, Ferdinand, became a board member and technical director at Daimler Motoren AG. The elder Porsche founded his own automobile workshop in 1931, and the son, known as "Ferry," was his right-hand man, helping with the development of the Volkswagen, or "people's car." The first prototype left the family's garage in 1936. Four years earlier, he helped build the classic 16-cylinder Auto-Union racing car. The cornerstone for the first VW plant was laid two years later, supervised by a beaming Adolf Hitler. But during World War II, automobile production was suspended in favor of armaments. During the war, Mr. Porsche designed tanks for Hitler's armies. After the war, the company started work on what became the first Porsche sports car. In 1946, he began in Gmund, Austria, to put together by hand the first car to bear the Porsche name. He took the design of the Volkswagen -- a rear-engine, air-cooled, lightweight car -- and squeezed more power out of it, producing the first Porsche, the 356, in 1948. The 356, which critics said looked like an upside-down soap dish, went into full production two years later. It racked up 77,000 sales before it was phased out in 1963, when the 911, another rear-engine, air-cooled car, became the backbone of the company's sales. The company, which originally thought it might manage to make only 50 cars, rolled its 1 millionth "sportwagen" off the assembly line in Stuttgart in 1996. Through half a century, Porsche cars have piled up more than 22,000 racing victories. The cars have followed a clear line from the original design of Ferry Porsche. Mr. Porsche became chairman of the company's supervisory board in 1972, when the firm became a publicly traded company. During his years of leadership, Porsche became the epitome of sports cars and a prestige symbol of German engineering. His wife, the former Dorothea Reitz, whom he married in 1935, died in 1985. Survivors include four sons. A family connection still exists between two great German carmakers: Mr. Porsche's nephew, Ferdinand Piech, is board chairman at VW.
Ferdinand Porsche JrShow Article
Andy Wallace drove a standard McLaren F1 production car at 240.14 mph (386.46 kmh) at the Volkswagen Proving Ground, Wolfsburg, Germany.
McLaren F1Show Article
Westfalia International Camping-Car Club, based in Quebec, Canada, arranged the largest ever gathering of Volkswagen Westfalia camper vans when 489 were arranged at the Camping des Voltigeurs in St. Charles de Drummond, Canada.Show Article
In China Volkswagen won approval to build its own car in a joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Ind. Corp. to sell for about $12,000.Show Article
Volvo announced it had agreed to acquire a majority share in Scania. The acquisition, for $7.5 billion (60.7 billion SEK), would have created the world's second-largest manufacturer of heavy trucks, behind DaimlerChrysler. The cash for the deal came from Volvo selling its car division to Ford in January 1999. The deal eventually failed, after Scania's board gained an agreement from Investor that better value could be gained from the two companies developing separately. Volvo subsequently sold its shares to Volkswagen and Investor sold a portion of its shares to Volkswagen, after pressure from both the EU and the Swedish government
Scania Factory in SödertäljeShow Article
The Škoda Fabia made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A year later, the estate version was introduced at the Paris Motor Show, and the saloon version appeared at the Geneva Motor Show in February 2001. Part of the Fabia’s success was the fact that all of its mechanical parts were developed by or in conjunction with Volkswagen, but were offered in a package that was priced to undercut other models in the Volkswagen Group.
Škoda Fabia - 1999Show Article
The Ford Motor Company was awarded Car of the Century (COTC) for its Ford Motor Company and creator of the Model T, was named Automotive Entrepreneur of the Century. The Car Designer of the Century award was given to Italian Giorgetto Giugiaro (Maserati Bora, BMW Z1, Ferrai GG50), whilst Austrian Ferdinand Piëch (Chairman of VW who influenced the development of numerous significant cars including the Audi Quattro, Volkswagen New Beetle, Audi R8, Lamborghini Gallardo, Volkswagen Phaeton, and notably, the Bugatti Veyron) won the Car Executive of the Century award. The election process was overseen by the Global Automotive Elections Foundation.Show Article
Ferdinand Porsche, designer of Auto Union Grand Prix racers and the original Volkswagen, was honored as the Car Engineer of the Century. The young Porsche chose to be a mechanical apprentice instead of attending university. In 1898, he was employed by Lohner, a manufacturer of electric cars and, at the age of 23, he designed the Lohner-Porsche. This car was exhibited at the most prestigious car exhibition of the time, L'Exposition Universelle De Paris in 1900. Porsche won the opportunity to design another prototype, a four wheel drive with an electrical motor in each wheel. In 1902, with Ferdinand Porsche as the pilot, it won its class at the hill climb in Exelber, Austria. During the next 25 years, he worked for many different companies. One of his most important achievements was the design of a road train used in the First World War. Porsche joined Daimler Germany in 1923. In 1926, Daimler merged with Benz, providing the opportunity for Porsche to work on the Mercedes S and SSK projects. As well as race cars, he designed a diesel powered truck and a popular automobile. He opened his own engineering office in Stuttgart in 1930. In 1934, the order from Hitler to design and build the first "peoples car" was received. Porsche designed the Volkswagen Beetle, as well as many military vehicles used by the Nazis during WWII. After the war, Porsche spent twenty months in a French prison, and his son took control of the business. Dr. Porsche (he received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Stuttgart) was certainly the most prolific automotive designer of first half of the 20th century. Dr. Porsche died in 1951 at the age of 75. The Porsche name has gone on to greater fame and success, thanks to his son's, and grandchildren's, involvement with the engineering company Ferdinand Porsche created.
Ferdinand PorscheShow Article
Major Ivan Hirst (83), the British Army officer and engineer who was instrumental in reviving Volkswagen from a single factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, into a major postwar automotive manufacturer, died.Show Article
The former Happy Mondays singer Shaun Ryder’s Volkswagen Corrado was found abandoned after being stolen and used as the getaway car in an armed robbery on a Harry Ramsden’s fish and chip restaurant in Manchester. £7,000 cash was taken in the robbery.Show Article
After favourable public reaction, Volkswagen officially incorporated Bugatti Automobiles SAS with former VW drivetrain chief Karl-Heinz Neumann as president. The company purchased the 1856 Château Saint Jean, formerly Ettore Bugatti's guest house in Dorlisheim, near Molsheim, and began refurbishing it to serve as the company's headquarters.
A new world record for Most Persons in a New Volkswagen Beetle (27) was set at Pennsylvania State University.Show Article
The European Commission fined Europe's biggest carmaker Volkswagen 30.96m euros ($26.4m; £18.6m) for preventing its German car dealers from selling the Passat model at a discount. The offence lasted for two years after the version of the Passat was introduced in 1996. "The European Commission has decided to impose a fine... for having instructed its German Volkswagen dealers in 1996 and 1997 to show 'price discipline' and not to sell the new Passat at prices considerably below the recommended retail price," said the Commission in a statement. The Commission said that VW had violated Article 81 of the EU treaty prohibiting price fixing.Show Article
The Frankfurt Motor Show opened to international media, with a series of concept and production vehicle debuts kicking off in the early morning. First news of terrorist attacks in the US came in the early afternoon. Large display screens were switched over to news coverage, opening celebrations were cancelled, and the usual upbeat presentations were absent for the rest of the show. MG Rover Group unveiled its stunning new luxury high performance sports coupe - the MG X80. Styled by MG Rover's world renowned design director Peter Stevens, the £55,000 MG X80 had a high-technology super-formed aluminum body, mounted to a steel box section chassis. Skoda revealed its new model, the Superb. There was a large number of concept vehicles, including the Citroën C-Crosser, SEAT Tango, Renault Talisman, Jaguar R Coupe, Ford Fusion and Audi Avantissimo. Top production car debuts included the BMW 7 Series, Ford Fiesta, Citroën C3, Honda Jazz, Volkswagen Polo and Lamborghini Murcielago.
MG X80Show Article
Bernd Pischetsrieder succeeded Piëch as chairman of Volkswagen AG. At Volkswagen, he directed Bugatti Automobiles SAS to reengineer the Bugatti Veyron 16.4, delaying an expected launch. He continued moving the Audi and Volkswagen marques upmarket to some controversy.Show Article
Volkswagen celebrated a very special milestone with the production of the 21,517,415th Golf at the Wolfsburg factory in Germany. With this car, production of the Golf exceeded that of the original Beetle, to become Volkswagen's highest production model. The ceremony was attended by Dr Bernd Pischetsrieder, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, along with a number of political figures, members of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG and Golf production employees. The 21,517,415th Golf – a V5 model, finished in reflex silver metallic paint and fitted with refinements such as electronic climate control and parking sensors – was bought by a driver in Hamburg.
London's Somerset House saw the official unveiling of Bentley's newest model; the magnificent Continental GT. It was the first car released by Bentley under Volkswagen AG-management after their acquisition of the company in 1998, and the first ever Bentley to employ "mass production" manufacturing techniques. It shares a platform with the Volkswagen Phaeton. The Continental GT transformed the company into a major global brand.
Bentley Continental GTShow Article
After 71 years together the world’s most famous car marques – Bentley and Rolls-Royce – separated. Rolls-Royce left Crewe and became part of BMW AG, while Bentley, still owned by Volkswagen AG, remained at the historic Cheshire site.Show Article
MG Rover Group announced a bold new extension to its small car range - the Streetwise. Based on the Rover 25, it had an increased ride height, chunkier bumpers and was aimed at a younger audience as an ‘urban on-roader'. The Rover Streetwise was an attempt by Rover to appeal to younger drivers. Rover had modernised the existing models in 1999 with a facelift for the 25, 45 and the Rover-designed 75 models but Rover was suffering falling sales and a tarnished brand after the sale of Rover to the Phoenix consortium in 2000 by BMW. Although new models were in the planning stages, the 25 and 45 models would be at least 10 years old before the new models were launched. Phoenix owned the rights to the MG brand, and had marketed the ZR, ZS & ZT with reasonable success, restyling the existing 25, 45 and 75 models. This included tweaked suspension, new wheels, altered dashboard inserts, different seats, and bodykits. With the MG brand proving popular, MG Rover Group turned their attention to the Rover brand. The Rover-badged cars had a rather staid image, and were commonly associated with elderly motorists. Thus, MG Rover attempted to appeal to a younger market. MG Rover decided to design a car for a niche market, and chose the ‘Urban on-roader’ look, similar to the Audi A6 Allroad, Škoda Octavia Scout, Volvo XC70 & Volkswagen Polo Fun/CrossPolo. The Streetwise ceased production in April 2005, when Rover ceased trading and went into administration.
Rover StreetwiseShow Article
The last ‘classic’ Volkswagen Beetle, number 21,529,464, rolled off the production line at VW’s plant in Puebla, Mexico, and was shipped to the Volkswagen company museum in Wolfsburg, Germany. It was ironic that the car that became a symbol of flower power in the 1960s and inspired Disney’s Herbie in the 1997 The Love Bug film had its roots in Nazi Germany. The Volkswagen Beetle (officially the Volkswagen Type 1, informally in Germany the Volkswagen Käfer and in the U.S. as Volkswagen Bug) is a two-door, four passenger, rear-engine economy car manufactured and marketed by German automaker Volkswagen (VW) from 1938 until 2003. The need for this kind of car, and its functional objectives, was formulated by the leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, who wanted a cheap, simple car to be mass-produced for his country's new road network. Hitler contracted Ferdinand Porsche in 1934 to design and build it. Porsche and his team took until 1938 to finalise the design. The influence on Porsche's design of other contemporary cars, such as the Tatra V570 and the work of Josef Ganz remains a subject of dispute. The result was one of the first rear-engined cars since the Brass Era. With 21,529,464 produced, the Beetle is the longest-running and most-manufactured car of a single platform ever made. Although designed in the 1930s, the Beetle was only produced in significant numbers from 1945 on (mass production had been put on hold during the Second World War) when the model was internally designated the Volkswagen Type 1, and marketed simply as the Volkswagen (or "People's Car"). Later models were designated Volkswagen 1200, 1300, 1500, 1302 or 1303, the former three indicating engine displacement, the latter two derived from the type number. The model became widely known in its home country as the Käfer (German for "beetle") and was later marketed as such in Germany, and as the Volkswagen in other countries. For example, in France it was known as the Coccinelle (French for ladybug). The original 25 hp Beetle was designed for a top speed around 100 km/h (62 mph), which would be a viable speed on the Reichsautobahn system. As Autobahn speeds increased in the postwar years, its output was boosted to 36, then 40 hp, the configuration that lasted through 1966 and became the "classic" Volkswagen motor. The Beetle ultimately gave rise to variants, including the Karmann Ghia and Type 2. The Beetle marked a significant trend, led by Volkswagen, Fiat, and Renault, whereby the rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout increased from 2.6 percent of continental Western Europe's car production in 1946 to 26.6 percent in 1956. The 1948 Citroën 2CV and other European models marked a later trend to front-wheel drive in the European small car market, a trend that would come to dominate that market. In 1974, Volkswagen's own front-wheel drive Golf model succeeded the Beetle. In 1994, Volkswagen unveiled the Concept One, a "retro"-themed concept car with a resemblance to the original Beetle, and in 1998 introduced the "New Beetle", built on the contemporary Golf platform with styling recalling the original Type 1. In the 1999 Car of the Century competition, to determine the world's most influential car in the 20th century, the Type 1 came fourth, after the Ford Model T, the Mini, and the Citroën DS.
The last original Volkswagen BeetleShow Article
Rudolf Leiding (88), the third postwar chairman of the Volkswagen automobile company, died. Under Leiding's leadership, the Volkswagen Golf was completed and went on sale in Europe in June 1974, introduced in North America as the Rabbit seven months later. The Golf was credited with saving VW from possible bankruptcy after the company had relied on the Beetle too long. Leiding left the company in 1975 and was replaced by Toni Schmücker. Leiding was the first director of the VW works in Kassel and was also CEO of Audi NSU as well as Volkswagen of Brazil.Show Article
To mark the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Volkswagen Golf, and to celebrate, VW launched the all-new Mk V version in the UK. A compact MPV version of the car was produced as the Golf Plus. The Golf Mk5 was replaced in 2009 by the Volkswagen Golf Mk6.
Volkswagen Golf MkVShow Article
In Germany, Volkswagen fired Klaus-Joachim Gebauer, a midlevel personnel manager, for alleged embezzlement. Gebauer soon began telling stories of management sex junkets in Brazil, India and other places.Show Article
The Bentley Arnage Convertible, also known as the Arnage Drophead Coupé, was revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show."We knew that the Drophead Coupe would create quite a stir," said Bentley chairman Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen, "because it is the most sensationally beautiful convertible with strikingly contemporary lines and an unashamed luxurious interior." The Arnage Drophead Coupe was the fourth new model to go on sale in just four years at Bentley, reflecting the incredible success of the brand since becoming part of the Volkswagen Group in 1998. Since 2002, Bentley launched the all-new Continental GT Coupe, the 2005 Model Year Arnage, the four-door Continental Flying Spur and the Arnage Drophead Coupe.
Arnage Drophead CoupéShow Article
A standard-engined, 3.2-litre, V6 Volkswagen Touareg set a new world altitude record for a motor vehicle of 19,948 feet (6,080 metres). The Touareg expedition team battled against icy winds and a lack of oxygen through the lunar landscape of the Ojos del Salado (on the Argentina-Chile border), the world’s highest volcano. This is supposedly the highest point on the surface of the earth that a vehicle can reach and safely return from.
Volkswagen TouaregShow Article
35% of Britons voted the Aston Martin DB9 as MSN UK’s Car of the Year for 2005, making it the most craved car in Britain. The online poll saw the DB9 take poll position with 4645 votes, a staggering 3,000 votes ahead of the new Ferrari F430, which came in second place. In third place was the new Volkswagen Golf with 667 votes.
Aston Martin DB9Show Article
Kurt Lotz (92), the second postwar CEO of the Volkswagen automobile company in Germany. He succeeded the legendary Heinrich Nordhoff after Nordhoff died in 1968.Show Article
Porsche announced that it had taken a 20% stake in Volkswagen to shield Europe's biggest car maker from a hostile takeover.Show Article
A driverless Volkswagen won the $2-million Pentagon-sponsored race across the rugged Nevada Desert, beating four other robot-guided vehicles. One of the aims of the race was to develop technology to make warfare safer for humans.Show Article
The 24-millionth VW Golf rolled off the production line in Wolfsburg, Germany. First produced in 1974, the Golf is Volkswagen's best-selling model and the world's second best-selling model, Most production of the Golf was initially in the 3-door hatchback style. Other variants include a 5-door hatchback, station wagon (Variant, from 1993), convertible (Cabriolet and Cabrio, 1979–2002, Cabriolet, 2011–present), and a Golf-derived notchback sedan, variously called Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Vento (from 1992) or Volkswagen Bora (from 1999). The cars have filled many market segments, from basic personal cars, to high-performance hot hatches. The Volkswagen Golf has won many awards throughout its history. The Volkswagen Golf won the World Car of the Year in 2009 with the Volkswagen Golf Mk6 and in 2013 with the Volkswagen Golf Mk7. The Golf is one of only three cars, the others being the Renault Clio and Opel/Vauxhall Astra, to have been voted European Car of the Year twice, in 1992 and 2013. The Volkswagen Golf has made the Car and Driver annual 10 Best list multiple times. The Golf Mk 7 won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award in 2015, and the Mk1 GTI also won the award in 1985 (due to it being built in Pennsylvania.)
It was reported that Volkswagen AG was getting ready for the 2006 US launch of its $1 million Bugatti Veyron, a 2-seater with 1,001 horsepower.Show Article
The production line Audi Q7, a full-size luxury crossover SUV, which shared its platform with the Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne, was unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Audi Q7Show Article
Vehicles introduced at the opening of the Chicago Auto Show included, Bentley Continental GTC convertible, Ford Expedition, Lexus ES 350, Lincoln MKZ (formerly the Lincoln Zephyr, Mercedes-Benz R63 AMG and Volkswagen Rabbit.
Former world boxing champion Naseem Hamed was jailed for 15 months and banned for 4 years for dangerous driving after a crash which left another driver severely injured. His £325,000 McLaren-Mercedes crashed at 90mph in Sheffield on 2 May 2005. The court heard how Hamed had been anxious to impress a businessman who was a passenger at the time of the crash. Hamed was showing what his car could do when he crossed a solid white line at a speed of at least 90mph and crashed head-on into a Volkswagen Golf that emerged from a dip in the road. The car then hit a second vehicle, a Ford Mondeo he had been trying to overtake.Show Article
The 197-bhp Volkswagen Eos (derived from the Greek goddess of the dawn), a compact sports car capable of 144 mph, went on sale in the UK (on the road from £19,370). It had a retractable hardtop coupé convertible body style and was introduced as the successor to the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet.
Volkswagen Eos cabriolet (2006-2011)Show Article
Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey took to the stage. at the Hanover Exhibition Centre F as part of the celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the Volkswagen Bus.Show Article
The Passat R36 made its public debut at the Essen Motorshow, joining the Golf R32 and only the second model in the Volkswagen line-up to carry the 'R' badge. Not only the fastest Passat but also the fastest estate car Volkswagen had ever produced, the R36 powered by the new 3.6-litre FSI V6 engine developing 300PS, with a 0 to 62 mph time of just 5.6 seconds. The estate version which, like the saloon, was fitted with 4MOTION all-wheel drive returned a time of 5.8 seconds. Both were electronically limited to maximum of 155 mph.
VW Passat R36Show Article
Malaysian news announced that Volkswagen AG had signed an agreement to buy a 51% stake in Proton (company) Auto Division.Show Article
In Germany Peter Hartz, Volkswagen human resources executive, was fined $750,000 and given a 2-year suspended sentence after he pleaded guilty to funding an account that provided special travel perks for employees.Show Article
In an episode aired on this day, BBC 2's Top Gear, presenter James May reached 253 mph (407 km/h) in a Bugatti Veyron at Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft’s (VAG) test track facility in Ehra-Lessien, Germany.Show Article
The Volkswagen Golf GTI W12 concept made its UK debut at the GTI International show, an independently organised event at Bruntingthorpe proving ground in Leicestershire. The GTI W12-650 is powered by a bi-turbo W12 engine developing 650 hp – a full 450 hp increase over the standard Golf GTI. Unlike the standard car, the W12-powered GTI channelled its drive through its rear wheels via a six-speed Tiptronic gearbox.
2007 - Golf GTI W12Show Article
Dick Dean (73), American automobile designer and builder of custom cars, died. In 1964 George Barris asked Dean to run the famous Barris Kustom City. His work with Barris included many notable cars, including the Surf Woody (designed by Tom Daniel), the X-PAK 400 floating air fan car, and cars for television shows such as the Munster Koach and Dragula for The Munsters, and cars for Beverly Hillbillies and Mannix. He collaborated with Dean Jeffries in 1966 on several TV cars, including Black Beauty for The Green Hornet and the Monkeemobile for The Monkees. In the later 1960s, Dean built many dune buggies on shortened Volkswagen Beetle chassis with fiberglass Meyers Manx bodies. Capitalizing on this premise, in 1968-69 Dean created his own body for a shortened Volkswagen chassis, the Shalako.
Dick Dean (c. 1969) in his car, Shalako.Show Article
Europe's biggest automaker Volkswagen said it planned to invest 4.0 billion euros (5.8 billion dollars) to boost its presence in China over the next three years.Show Article
Germany’s Volkswagen announced that it has agreed to pay $2.5 billion for a 19.9% stake in Suzuki, a family-owned Japanese maker of small cars and motorcycles.Show Article
It was reported that the influential environmental scientist Amory Lovins (53) of Colorado was attempting to build a super-efficient sport-utility vehicle called the Hypercar . The "Hypercar" would be a "hybrid electric/hydrogen-fuelled family vehicle that had only a few parts, was made of lightweight carbon but was stronger than steel, used existing technologies, weighed half a normal car of its size, and could travel the equivalent of 300 miles to the gallon. It was designed to have next to no emissions and, using its batteries, could become a power plant on wheels when parked, eliminating the need for nuclear or coal-power stations". Commercialisation of the Hypercar began in 2014, with the production of the all-carbon electric BMW i3 family and the 313 miles per gallon Volkswagen XL1.
Volkswagen XL1Show Article
The 2011 Chicago Auto Show celebrated its 103rd edition with rave reviews and a 10 percent increase in attendance over the 10-day run when compared to the 2010 show. Two new vehicles, a 2011 Honda CR-Z and a 2011 Hyundai Sonata turbo, were awarded to the fortunate ticket holders during the First Look for Charity event held the evening before the show opened to the public. Eighteen area charities shared in the $1,905,060 raised from the tickets sold for the black-tie fund-raiser. Four brands rolled out ride and drive tracks, including Jeep, Ford, Toyota and Chevrolet. Among brands unveiled at the 2011 show included the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Volkswagen GLI, Hyundai’s Genisis 5.0 R-spec and Veloster Rally Car, the 2012 2Acura TL with Acura Vice President of Sales Jeff Conrad. The 012 Shelby GT350 convertible, Toyota Matrix and Chrysler 200 convertible were seen for the first time at this show, and Audi presented the TT RS for the first time anywhere in North America. Ram Truck announced a new trim package for the Ram Tradesman, and Dodge unleashed five new performance models. A bold experiment premiered on the second media day that proved auto shows and social media are a match made in marketing heaven.
After 11 days, 17 hours and 22 minutes of non-stop driving, renowned adventurer and off-road driver Rainer Zietlow and his team set a new world record certified by Tuv Nord Mobility for driving the length of the Pan-American Highway as they crossed the road's end in Deadhorse, Alaska. The TDI-Panamericana Endurance Challenge team covered 14 countries and nearly 16,000 miles in a 2011 Volkswagen Touareg TDI® Clean Diesel SUV. Their journey to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Pan-American Highway's establishment breaks the previous record by more than three days.
Rainer ZietlowShow Article
Crowds swarmed at the opening of the Chicago Auto Show to the Chevrolet exhibit to be among the first to see the 2014 Corvette on display. Visually stunning, the ’14 Corvette’s sculptured, aerodynamic two-door hatchback exterior and track-capabilities was worthy of the iconic “Stingray” designation. This model marked the seventh-generation of “America’s Sport Car.” New vehicle introductions at the '13 Chicago show included the 2014 Toyota Tundra, 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GSR and 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 pickup truck.
The Volkswagen Passat was voted Car of the Year by European automotive editors at the Geneva International Motor Show.Show Article
Switzerland temporarily banned the sale of Volkswagen (VW) diesel-engine models which could have devices capable of tricking emission tests.Show Article