VW Beetle

1950s VW – originally designed by Erwin Komenda
From an original advert in The Robert Opie Collection

The beetle was originally commissioned by Adolf Hitler in the early thirties as a “Volks-Wagen”, meaning “people’s car” in German; it was developed by Porsche, namely Erwin Komenda, their chief designer. The car wasn’t introduced into the UK until the fifties and, though it’s nickname “Käfer” (beetle) was well established in Germany, as well as being marketed as “beetle” in the US, the name was never officially used in England. This by no means stopped the car being known for its distinctive name, and it proved to be one of the most iconic cars for more than a decade. The angle of this postcard shows the car for all its soft lines, its distinctive bubble shape, that smooths out all harshness from any angular edge. The beetle’s body is all circles, all jolly curves, culminating in gleaming spherical hubcaps, sun-like head lamps and the round tongue of the bonnet. Gleaming, the chassis is glorious, and, though it wouldn’t have been advertising under its beetle-bug name, it gleams black like the insect’s hard shell. In this image, now almost ironically, she is accompanied by the classic figures of the fifties, without which the car’s iconic image would not be complete – the gentleman’s tilted trilby and the woman’s dazzlingly white teeth.


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