Retrospective

Three big name brands, three Volkswagens: How VW's mid-century models shaped modern America

Domino’ started its delivery business with this Beetle.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Three brands that are modern day household names got a little help in the beginning from Volkswagen vehicles. Domino's, Ben & Jerry's, and Nike all spent their early years growing from little passion projects to formidable businesses. The brands grew up and into Volkswagens, then saw them expand far past the wheelbase limits and into major corporations.

Domino's

Volkswagen Dominio's Pizza

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Dodge brothers aren't the only famous or successful all-male duo from the Detroit area. Brothers Tom and James Monaghan founded Domino's Pizza in 1960 when they bought a small pizzeria in Ypsilanti, Michigan, a southwest suburb of Motor City.

The store purchase cost just $900, about $600 less than the price of a new Volkswagen Beetle at the time. Dominick DiVarti, the original owner of the shop, gave the boys a 15-minute pizza making lesson then turned over the keys to DomiNick's to them.

James, who had a full-time job as a mail carrier in addition to helping run the shop, sold his share of the pizzeria to get the company a delivery vehicle, a 1959 Beetle.

In the 1950s, the Beetle had evolved from its early years into a body style with the features commonly seen in vintage models that are still on the road today. By the time the Mongahan brothers got theirs, the Beetle had larger taillights that combined the traditional taillamps and turn signals. Twin chrome tailpipes were added and U.S. models had taller bumper guards. The rear rectangular window of previous years' models was replaced with an oval one in the late '50s.

By 1965, the brothers had purchased two additional pizzerias and changed the name of the business. There was no going back. Today, there are over 17,000 Domino's locations worldwide.

According to Volkswagen, the whereabouts of Domino's first delivery vehicle is unknown. However, a replica of the original is showcased at Domino's headquarters in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Ben & Jerry's

Ben & Jerry's Type 3 Vermont

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Ben & Jerry's was founded in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont by two New York City-area transplants who had taken a $5 ice cream-making correspondence course offered by Pennsylvania State University that same year.

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield invested $12,000 into their first scoop shop in a converted gas station in downtown Burlington that sat across from what is now The Vermont Pub & Brewery in the space currently occupied by a public parking lot.

In the land of creemees, Ben and Jerry made a big impact, proving popular thanks to their flavorful ice cream and oversized chunks of filling. They didn't just sell scoops at their shop. The company delivered 2.5-gallon tubs of ice cream to restaurants and shops in Ben's red Volkswagen Type 3 Squareback station wagon for their first two years of business.

The Type 3 had been introduced at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1961. It was designed to fill a hole in the VW lineup between the Beetle and the Bus, as a family-friendly auto. Volkswagen began importing the Type 3 Squareback to the U.S. in 1966 where it competed directly with the Chevrolet Corvair.

By 1980, demand took off and Vermont's harsh winters and road salt caught up with the Type 3. However, the Volkswagen lives on at Ben & Jerry's South Burlington headquarters today and their factory just down the road in Waterbury. There's a Type 2 painted on the wall at their in-office Scoop Shop and vehicle inside their shop in downtown Burlington.

Nike

Nike bus Type 2 Volkswagen

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Long before Nike was Nike, it was Blue Ribbon Sports. Founded in 1964 by University of Oregon track coach, Bill Bowerman, and U of O track star Phil Knight, the company originally set out to cater to runners, selling Onitsuka Tiger track shoes out of Knight's car at track meets.

Their first year of business they sold 1,500 pairs. The next that number grew to 8,000. Blue Ribbon Sports added a brick and mortar location in 1967 in Santa Monica, California near the intersection of Pico Boulevard and I-10.

The company's first employee, Jeff Johnson, marketed the shop and drove his personal vehicle, a Volkswagen Type 2 bus, to track meets where he sold and delivered shoes to runners. The second-generation T2 Bus stood out thanks to its gingham curtains and Onitsuka Tigers dealer sticker up front on the driver's door.

The original store closed just two years later but within a decade, the company, now retreaded as Nike, owned 50 percent of the athletic shoe market.

In 2019, Volkswagen and Nike teamed up to celebrate their shared history. The companies outfitted a Volkswagen ID. BUZZ CARGO concept van to resemble the original Blue Ribbon Sports delivery van, promoting Nike's "Reuse-A-Shoe" program and Volkswagen's electric future.

Trending News

 
 

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk poses on the red carpet of the Axel Springer Award 2020 on December 01, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.

Photo by Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images

The annual Forbes World's Billionaires list ranks and categorizes the richest people on Earth. You can probably name a few in the Top 10: Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, and Larry Ellison all make the list.

Sixty-eight of the billionaires have ties to the auto industry. Scroll down to see the top 15 heavy hitters and find out more about their rolls in the sector.

No. 476 - William Bin Li

William Bin Lee Li

William Bin Lee, chief executive officer and chairman of electric car maker NIO, looks on as he waits for NIO stock to begin trading on the floor of the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

According to his Forbe profile, William Li is known as the "Elon Musk of China". In his lifetime he has co-founded and invested in more than 40 companies in the automotive space.

He is the founder and chairman of Bitauto (NYSE: BITA), a company that has three main areas of business: advertising and subscriptions, transaction services, and digital marketing solutions. Li sold the company in 2013.

The entrepreneur is also known for being the founder and current CEO of luxury electric car manufacturer NIO (NYSE: NIO). In addition to passenger vehicles, NIO is involved with FIA Formula E Championship racing.

His $5.8 billion net worth moves him up quite a bit form his 1,717 position on 2019's Billionaire's list.

No. 476 - Li Ping

You might not know Li Ping's name, but you're probably familiar with the company that he is the vice chairman of - Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) - if not by name then by the products that their batteries are in. Either via partnerships or sales, the company has supplied batteries for PSA Groupe (now part of Stellantis), Hyundai, Honda, BMW, Daimler AG, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo, MINI, Next, BAIC Motor, Geely Automobile, GAC Group, Yutong Bus, Zhongtong Bus, Xiamen King Long, SAIC Motor, and Ford.

Ping's $5.8 billion net worth places him much higher on the Billionaires list than he was in 2019 and 2019 when he placed numbers 1063 and 1605, respectively.

No. 451 - Mong-Koo Chung

Chung Mong-Koo

Hyundai Motor Co. Chairman Chung Mong-Koo walks by reporters as he leaves after the first day of his appeals trial at the Seoul Central District Court on March 27, 2007 in Seoul, South Korea.

Photo by Getty Images

Mong-Koo Chung ushered in the new era of Hyundai Motor Corporation vehicles, moving the company from troubled upstart to a formidable foe for the likes of the Big 3, not just in America, but across the globe, during his 20-year tenure.

Chung's net worth is estimated to be $6 billion, which comes primarily from this family's business. He is the second son of the late Chung Ju-yung who founded the Hyundai Group. His second biggest holding is the auto parts company Hyundai Mobis, where he still serves as Chairman.

According to Forbes, Chung is known as the "bulldozer" because of his "blunt and forceful style."

In 2007, an appeals court suspended a three-year prison sentence for the Hyundai Motor Co. Chairman saying the tycoon is too important to South Korea's economy to go to jail for embezzlement.

In 2020, Chung was number 836 on the Billionaires list, quite the fall from his position at 452 in 2019.

No. 339 - Ernest Garcia III​

If you've shopped for a used car lately, there's a good chance that you've taken a peek at the website of the billionaire at number 339 on the Forbes list. Garcia is the CEO and cofounder of Carvana, an ecommerce platform for buying and selling used cars. The company is perhaps best known for its car towers, which display vehicles and where buyers can pick up their vehicle without having to visit a dealership.

Garcia is worth $7.4 billion according to Forbes.

The Stanford University graduate started his career as an associate in the Principal Transactions Group at RBS Greenwich Capital.

No. 308 - Shahid Khan

Shadhid Khan

Shad Khan Owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on before the start of a game against the Tennessee Titans at TIAA Bank Field on September 19, 2019 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Shahid Khan was trained as an engineer. In 1980 he purchased Flex-N-Gate from his former employer and set about building an empire, thanks in large part to the success of his one-piece truck bumper. The Flex-N-Gate now has 64 plants worldwide and over 24,000 employees.

Kahn's success isn't limited to the automotive industry. He is the owner of Fulham football club and the Jacksonville Jaguars. He and his son, Tony, launched All Elite Wrestling in 2019 as a competitor to WWE. He is a major financial backer of Black News Channel, a 24-hour cable news channel that launched in February 2020.

Kahn is currently worth $8 billion placing him in the 308 slot on the Forbes Billionaires list. In 2020 he was number 183 and in 2019 he was 224.

No. 256 - Lu Xiangyang

Lu Xiangyang and his cousin Wang Chuanfu teamed up in 1995 to launch BYD, a Chinese auto- and battery-maker. Prior to that point, Lu had been working at the People's Bank of China.
BYD currently makes passenger cars, buses, electric bicycles, forklifts, rechargeable batteries, and trucks. The range of products electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and gasoline-powered vehicles.
In addition his stake in BYD, Lu runs an investment firm, Youngy Investment Holding Group.
Lu's net worth is $9.1 billion according to Forbes.

No. 173 - Lu Zhongfang

The year was 1999. Lu Zhongfang retired from a pesticides factory in northern China's Jilin Province six years prior. He decided to invest in test preparation firm Offcn.

Today, Offcn Education Technology Co., Ltd. has over 35,000 employees across the globe and generates $1.3 billion in sales each year. There are 1490 companies in the Offcn corporate family.

Lu is worth $12.5 billion according to the Forbes list.

No. 133 - ​Georg Schaeffler

Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler, Georg F. W. Schaeffler

The owner of the Scheffler Group, Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler (R) and her son Georg F. W. Schaeffler are seen prior to the Continental Shareholder Meeting on April 23, 2009 in Hanover, Germany.

Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images

Georg Schaeffler's link to the auto industry is less traditional than many of the people on this list. Schaeffler and his mother Maria-Elisabeth own Schaeffler Group, a global one of the world's largest producers of ball bearings and machine components.

In 2011, Schaeffler Group agreed to a staggered ownership deal with Continental AG and it currently owns over 46 percent. Schaeffler Group also owns the brands INA, FAG and LuK. Schaeffler is the head of the supervisory board of Schaeffler Group and a member of the supervisory board of Continental AG.

His net worth of $14.9 billion has moved him up on the list from his 2020 spot as number 241 and closer to his previous positions at 96, 31, and 36 in 2019, 2018, and 2017, respectively.

No. 128 - Wei Jianjun​

Wei Jianjun is worth $15.5 billion, far more than he was worth in 2017-2020.

Wei is quite the success story. At the age of 26, he took over the debt-plagued Great Wall Automobile Industry Company after working at a carpet factory and a water-pump factory before joining Great Wall. Wei currently the head of Great Wall Motor, which has become China's largest SUV manufacturer.

No. 121 - Ernest Garcia II

Ernest Garcia II is 228 spots ahead of his son Ernest Garcia III. The elder Garcia is the largest Carvana shareholder, which has given him a net worth of $15.9 billion. In addition to his Carvana holdings, Garcia owns DriveTime Automotive, the nation's fourth-biggest used car retailer.

In 2020, Garcia was listed in the 875 position on the Billionaires list.

No. 118 - Wang Chuanfu

\u200bWang Chuanfu

Wang Chuanfu, Chairman of BYD, waits for the BYD press event to begin during the press preview for the Detroit International Auto Show at the Cobo Center January 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Wang Chuanfu is Lu Xiangyang's cousin and BYD co-founder. His net worth is higher than Lu's - $16.3 billion. Like Wei Jianjun, Wang is a rags to riches success story. He was born in a farm village in 1966 and was orphaned as a teen. He set his sights on battery technology when he was in college and founded BYD in 1990.

Wang's worth is on the rise. In 2020, he was ranked at number 401 on the Forbes Billionaires list and in 2019 he was number 452.

No. 89 - Li Shufu

Li Shufu is the chairman of Geely Automobile Holdings. You might have heard the Geely name before. They're the parent company of Volvo and Polestar, among others, and they one of the few Chinese automakers not run by the government. Geely also owns stakes in Daimler, Lotus, and flying car start-up Terrafugia.

Li has been dreaming about making cars since he was a body, telling Forbes Asia in 2014, ""We couldn't afford any toys. I couldn't imagine making a real car."

Li was listed in the 96 position on the 2020 version of the Forbes Billionaires list. He was listed 91st in 2019. His current net worth is $19.7 billion.

No. 81 - Stefan Quandt

Stefan Quandt is worth $21.6 billion thanks, in large part, to his 23.6=percent stake in BMW. Quandyts mother, Joanna, was the third wife of industrialist Herbert Quandt whose biggest claim to fame is saving BMW when it was at the point of bankruptcy and earning a fortune while doing so.

Quandt is the deputy chairman of BMW's supervisory board. In addition to his BMW holdings, Quandt has holdings in Heel (homeopathic medicine), Entrust (digital identity and data security), and Logwin (logistics).

Quandt has made the Billionaires list since 2017 with positions as high as 42nd (in 2018).

No. 53 - Susanne Klatten

Susanne Klatten

Jan Klatten with his wife Susanne Klatten and Werner E. Klatten attend the German Sports Gala 'Ball des Sports 2017' on February 4, 2017 in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Susanne Klatten is worth over $6 billion more ($27.7 million) than her brother Stefan Quandt despite owning just a 19.1-percent stake in BMW. Like her brother, she has been on the Billionaires list since 2017 with her ranking as high as 32.

Klatten is an economist by trade. She helped transform Altana AG into a world-class pharmaceutical/specialty chemical corporation. She is currently the sole owner and deputy chairman of that company, which has more than $2.5 billion in annual sales.

Klatten and her brother both hold stakes in Entrust. She has also invested SGL Group.

No. 2 - Elon Musk

Elon Musk

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk poses next to Axel Springer's Chairman of the Board Mathias Doepfner on the red carpet of the Axel Springer Award 2020 on December 01, 2020 in Berlin, Germany.

Photo by Hannibal Hanschke-Pool/Getty Images

With a net worth of $151 billion, Elon Musk takes second place on the annual Forbes Billionaires list. Musk's holdings and links to the auto industry are pretty well known. According to Forbes, Musk owns 21 percent of Tesla but has pledged more than half his stake as collateral for loans. He also owns SpaceX, a rocket company.

Though much of the conversation surrounding Musk these days is in regard to Tesla and SpaceX, Musk is just as well known for building PayPal into the powerhouse company it is today.

Musk was first listed on the Forbes Billionaires List in 2012.

Trending News

 
 

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

If you were expecting anything other than a truck that looked similar to the Santa Cruz concept Hyundai showed off in 2015, your mind was deceiving you. The Santa Cruz concept was the belle of the ball in 2015, introducing a truck-like figure to the Hyundai concept lineup and giving brand enthusiasts something different to dream about.

After plenty of testing and a new generation of front-end design coming in vogue, Hyundai is nearly ready to bring the Santa Cruz to market.The company has begun teasing the model ahead of its expected debut in a few weeks, with plans to put it into production this summer. Deliveries will follow by the end of the year.

Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America
1 / 13

Hyundai has only provided four images of the forthcoming truck but from what we see there are a number of key differences between the two models that you'll want to be aware of.

Size

The Hyundai Santa Cruz Concept was shown off as a plus-sized midsize truck. The new truck is said to be smaller. Ford is viewing the Santa Cruz as a direct competitor for its forthcoming Maverick small truck and Honda probably sees the lifestyle-focused Santa Cruz as direct competition to the similarly themed Ridgeline.

Design

The face of the Santa Cruz is straight out of the 2022 Hyundai Tucson playbook. Early test models of the truck showed it to have the face of the Palisade. While the dimensions of the truck appear mostly unchanged from that time, the face is now the Tucson's with headlights integrated into the grille and a dynamic hood design.

Differences

There are several differences between the concept and photos of the real thing. Let's start at the wheels. Those on the rendering below are not currently a part of the Hyundai lineup. They're similar to ones offered on the 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

1 / 4

Side windows appear larger on the new truck than they are on the concept version. This is helped by the fact that the truck is a true four-door/crew cab whereas the concept was an extended cab model.

At the rear, the taillights and tailgate of the Santa Cruz are completely different than they were on the concept. The taillights, like the headlights, have been changed over to better fit with modern Hyundai design while the stamped model name on the tailgate fits with the current truck aesthetic as shown on Ford, Chevrolet, and Nissan truck models.

There's a shark fin antenna on the top of the production model that's not on the concept. Also, the side mirrors are closer to regulation size on the new truck.

Similarities

The trucks are also very much alike. The shape of the top of the bed is similar to the Honda Ridgeline's though the Hyundai production model has a fair amount of cladding around the bed (perfect for eating up any damage done when surf boards are thrown in the back).

There are bulging fender flares that carry over from the concept to reality, much like the belt line of the model, with the overall design more refined and production-ready.

Trending News