Automania

Ferdinand Porsche. Volkswagen Type 1 Sedan. designed 1938 (this example 1959)

Steel, glass, 59 1/4 × 61 × 160 1/2" (150.5 × 154.9 × 407.7 cm). Acquired with assistance from Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Curator, Andrew Gardner: In 1934, the car designer Ferdinand Porsche was hired to design an affordable car for the masses, a people's car or "Volks Wagen." The Volkswagen Type 1 sedan has a distinctive bulbous shape that feels seductive but also cartoon-like. The curved form is influenced by aerodynamic studies and the rounded design also provided ample headroom for passenger and driver. It was designed to make efficient use of steel, so the strength is provided not by the frame, but by the body itself. The car featured a 25-horsepower rear-mounted engine. So, luggage storage was from the front of the car.

It was really only after World War II that production really took off. And by 1972, the car had become the most successful and most widely sold vehicle of all time, surpassing Ford's Model T.

The Type 1 Sedan was interchangeably called the "Beetle" and the "Bug" because it had this insect-like shape that felt both friendly and unfamiliar at the same time. The most amazing thing about this car is that it's design has basically never changed between 1938 and when the last Type 1 Sedan rolled off production lines in 2003

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