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The complete history of the Volkswagen Beetle The KdF car, a German acronym for Strength Through Joy, was conceived by Adolf Hitler's Third Reich as a true German "people's car." There is little in the legacy of 1930s Nazi Germany that is positive, but after World War IIand with a little help from the Britishthe Volks Wagen really did help put the average man on the road in a car, designed by the great Ferdinand Porsche, that was reliable and well-built. First it set benchmarks for customer satisfaction across Europe, and sales soared. Then it arrived in North America and the slope-backed, rear-engined economy car became a cult hit. By the time the very last original Beetle was built in 2003, more than 21 million had been built, making it the best-selling single car model of all time. Although its concept is dated by modern standards, the Beetle magic is undimmed, which is why Volkswagen introduced an all-new, modern Beetle in 1998. It has carved out a niche as a distinctive and eye-catching car in a world of automotive clones.
Giles Chapman is an award-winning writer and commentator on the industry, history, and culture of cars. He's the former editor of Classic & Sports Car, the world's bestselling classic car magazine, and is the author of more than 15 books including Car Emblems, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Automobiles, and Top Gear: My Dad Had One Of Those.