In 1933, Adolf Hitler met with Ferdinand Porsche to discuss the development of a "Volkswagen" (People's Car), a basic vehicle capable of transporting 2 adults and 3 children at a speed of 100 km/h (62 mph). The Nazi leader wanted a cheap, simple car to be mass-produced for his country's newest Reichsautobahn road system.
Although designed in the 1930s, due to World War II, civilian Beetles only began to be produced in significant numbers by the end of the 1940s. The car was internally referred to as the Volkswagen Type 1, and marketed simply as the Volkswagen.
In postwar years, as Autobahn speeds increased, its output was boosted to 36 and then 40 hp and became the classic VW motor. The one-millionth car came off the assembly line in 1954. The Beetle had superior performance in its category with a top speed of 115km/h (72mph). The engine fired up immediately without a choke and could only be heard in the car when idling. It had excellent road handling for a small car and was economical to maintain and for many a joy to drive.
From 1971-1979, the Super Beetle series offered MacPherson strut front suspension, better turning radios and more space in the front luggage compartment.
It was regarded as something of a cult car since its 1960's association with the hippy movement. And the sighting of a Volkswagen Beetle is cause for violent fun in the car-sighting game known as "Slug-Bug."
From 1968 to 2005, a pearl white fabric sunroof Beetle with racing number "53" named "Herbie" starred in Disney's "The Love Bug" film.
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.