Volkswagen Beetle

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The Volkswagen Beetle, also known as the Volkswagen Type 1, was an economy car produced by the German auto maker Volkswagen (VW) from 1938 until 2003. With over 21 million manufactured[3] in an air-cooled, rear-engined, rear wheel drive configuration, the Beetle became the worldwide longest-running and most-manufactured automobile of a single design platform.

The Beetle had been officially designated as the Type 1 and was marketed in Europe by the designations 1100, 1200, 1300, 1500, or 1600 — denoting its engine size. The model became widely known in its home country as the Käfer, German for "beetle", and the model ultimately took the same nickname in English.

In the 1950s, the Beetle was more comfortable and powerful than most European small cars,[citation needed] having been designed for sustained high speed on the Autobahn. It remained a top seller in the US, owing much of its success to high build quality and innovative advertising,[citation needed] ultimately giving rise to variants, including the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia and the Volkswagen Type 2 van.

Along with cars including the Morris Minor, Fiat 500, Renault 4CV and Dauphine, and Citroen 2CV, the Beetle pioneered the modern continental economy car — and later served as the benchmark for the initial two generations of North American small cars, the first wave which included compact cars such as the Chevrolet Corvair and Ford Falcon and the later wave of subcompact cars such as the Chevrolet Vega and Ford Pinto.

The Beetle had marked a significant trend led by Volkswagen, Fiat and Renault whereby the rear-engine, rear-wheel drive layout had increased from 2.6% of continental Western Europe's car production in 1946 to 26.6% in 1956.[4] The 1948 Citroen 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, and in 1998 VW introduced the "New Beetle", built on the Golf platform with styling that recalled the original Beetle.

In a 1999 international poll for the world's most influential car of the twentieth century the Beetle came fourth after the Ford Model T, the Mini, and the Citroën DS.[5]

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