Ford Volkswagen History Tidbit

I rereading a book about Volkswagen;“Small Wonder”.
After WW2 the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg was located in the British sector. The Brits had been trying to give away the factory since the end of the war. No British car manufacturer wanted it so they meet with Henry Ford II and offered it to him gratis.
Ernst Breech, executive VP of Ford Motor Company, was at the meeting also. He was a beancounter.
Anyway Ford turned to Breech and asked for his opinion. Breech replied:“Mr Ford, I don’t think what we are being offered here is worth a damn!.”

Beech became Chairman of Ford Motor Company in 1955 succeeding Henry Ford II. In 1960 Henry Ford II took back the reins of Ford.
In 1949, VW sold 2 VW beetles in USA. In 1955, they sold 32,662. And in 1960 VW sold 117,868 beetles in USA. In 1968 beetle US sales peaked at 399674.

Gordon Moore died yesterday; the New York Times has a pretty thorough biography (for a newspaper). In it he quotes himself, as when an employee of the newly formed Intel came to him proposing to build a computer for the home.

Long before Apple, one of our engineers came to me with the suggestion that Intel ought to build a computer for the home,” he wrote. “And I asked him, ‘What the heck would anyone want a computer for in his home?”

Of course he also tells the story of the psychologist who, after administering an aptitude test told him (paraphrase) “Well, you’re OK technically but you’ll never manage anything.”

I guess we all have a few of those bad predictions (in our portfolio, if nowhere else.)


Of course Ford would not want VW. Ford already had substantial operations in Europe. The VW, with a completely different architecture, would be redundant, and a disruption of Ford’s existing German operations.

This is a 1950 Ford Taunus, built in Germany.

Ah yes. The VW beetle was comparable in size & would leach sales from the Taunas.
VW did manage to make a go of it though. It was a herculean effort by the Germans to create a new vehicle manufacturing entity in the rubble of post war Germany.

1950 Taunas:

1949 VW Beetle:1949 Volkswagen Beetle technical and mechanical specifications

Can’t help but wonder why. Germany already had automakers. Besides the GM owned Opel in Rüsselsheim and Ford in Cologne, there were several others. NSU was in Neckarsulm. Auto Union (DKW, Audi, Horch, Wanderer) had been based in the Soviet sector, but company honchos decamped to Ingolstadt and, reestablished the company. BMW in Munich and Mercedes in Stuttgart. Borgward was in Bremen.


The remnants of Auto Union in East Germany became Trabant, which like VW, manufactured simple and inexpensive cars. Unlike VW, the Trabant is one of the crappiest cars ever made.

The Germans needed jobs because they needed to eat. About 5 years ago I met a German guy while hiking in Sedona. He was a naturalized US citizen. Anyway he was a kid after WW2. He scavenged the city dump looking for stuff to sell & stole from US Army supplies facilities or GIs to survive.
Also perhaps there was an existing kubelwagen assemby line in existence that could be converted into civilian car manufacture.übelwagen*emphasized text*

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The Kubelwagens were built on the VW bug assembly lines. Same chassis as the civilian cars. They even used the dashboard instrument cluster than had been created for the civilian cars.

Thing is, every VW that was sold, in the early days, took a sale away from NSU, or DKW, or one of the other makes. “Jobs” that were created in Wolfsburg, were at the expense of “jobs” lost in Neckarsulm or Rüsselsheim.

Steve…old phart, remembers seeing NSUs and Opels on USian streets

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I remember seeing BMW Isettas in Ohio as a kid. Also MG-TD, Triumphs TR3, & Jaguar XK120s.