A Brief History of the Vw Beetle and Customization

By: linda turner

The Volkswagen Beetle, or the Type 1 as it was officially known until 1967, is an economy class car. It was originally designed by Ferdinand Porsche for Adolf Hitler's commission for what the latter called the "People's Car," (Volk-Wagen in German). The idea was to have a car available at an affordable price for every German household. The official production started in 1938 and ended in 2003.

The original design was equipped with an air-cooled 4-cylinder horizontally opposed cylinder or "flat four" located at the rear as opposed to the front like most vehicles. Another trademark is the design of the body, which probably gave the vehicle its namesake. Throughout the years, some upgrades to the model have been produced, but the architecture remains mostly in line with the original Type 1 signature design.

Due to the inherent versatility of its engine platform and customization opportunities, the Beetle is one of the longest and most produced design among automobiles. As far as modification goes, VW Beetle Parts, be it OEM or aftermarket parts, are heavily sought after by many Beetle enthusiasts. Certain set styles were already popular amongst the car's cult following, such as the Cal Looker, Resto Cal, and Rat Rod, but other combinations and variations are possible.

While the engine platform is over 40 years old, the Beetle's engine is flexible enough to handle the mixing and matching of more souped up or tweaked parts, going beyond the original limitations of the stock Beetle, making the car no stranger to motorsport events and street racing competitions. A particular Beetle sub-style known as the Baja Bug is also found in off-road competitions.

Other customizers opt to stick to the vintage Beetle look. Since the Volkswagen produced different incarnations of the Beetle, parts vary from year to year. The market for classic stock ranges back to the very first model produced in the 1960's, allowing collectors to restore and maintain their vintage Beetles on good running condition.

In 1998, Volkswagen released the New Beetle, a retro themed car based on the company's Golf platform, but borrowing the design of the its big brother so to speak. Unlike the original, the New Beetle had a front-mounted engine as opposed to the Beetle's traditional rear-mounted one. It remains to be seen if the New Beetle will have the same characteristics as the original.

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