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13 Jan

One in the long line was special... Kent Bostrom

Posted by Andrew Wood

When WWII ended the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg was within the British sector. Their technicians and industrialists did not give much for the VW concept with an air cooled engine at the rear, but thought it would be really good if the car could bring some export income to a suffering Germany. By 1948 the first type 1’s were being sold in many countries around Europe. VW decided not to make too many changes to the  design, which meant it looked almost the same for many years to come, however most people in the old days could tell older cars from newer ones by checking if it had a split or oval rear screen.

Split screen VW

One change in the middle of the range was rather special. The first two months production in 1953 still kept the split rear window, but something quite modern was added – a quarter light for each door and a new dashboard. From March that year the oval screen replaced the old split. In 1955 the brake lights were integrated into the rear lights and the car got two exhaust pipes, making it look twice as good, seen from behind. Also that year the 1,000,000th car left the assembly lines and over the coming years more than 15,000,000 would follow.

In 1958 the rear screen got rectangular and over night the old car looked almost modern. It was sensational, because for the first time in VW’s history you had a use for the internal rear view mirror. Two years later VW revolutionised its car by replacing the traficators by white indicators at the front.

oval or split – the choice is yours

Finally, in 1965 all screens got bigger and the following year the 1200cc engine was upgraded to 1300cc. 1967 saw a new 1500cc engine with 44hp, which was an increase in power by 10hp from the old 1200 engine and now you could easily reach the speed limits. The cost was an increase in fuel consumption larger than Porsche’s cheapest sports car of 88hp.

At this time of the year people in northern Scandinavia often would find themselves stuck in the snow, but not VW owners. Depending of its light weight (ca. 1,500 lbs) and the big wheels they climbed over all snow drifts like a tractor and soon disappeared while others kept on freezing waiting for better times.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! – Kent Bostrom


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