Heritage

Volkswagen at 70: Do you remember these models?

Volkswagen vehicles have been sold in the U.S. for the last 70 years.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

In 1949, Ben Pon, a Dutch businessman, arrived in New York with precious cargo - two Volkswagen Type 1 models, later known as the Beetle. Pon was one of the first to attempt to sell a Volkswagen to Americans and now, 70 years on, 17 million have been sold.

Let's take a trip down memory lane.

1949 Volkswagen Beetle

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

In post-World War II Europe, the Volkswagen Beetle was well on its way to being one of the most popular vehicles on the continent. Its efficient packaging and air-cooled engine helped it win a fan base. The 25-horsepower Beetle shown here is identical to the one Pon first imported to the U.S. in 1949.

1954 Volkswagen Type 2 Bus

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Telefunken, a German radio company, painted their logo on the side of the Volkswagen Type 2 Bus and used it as a delivery van. This is the Panel Delivery version of the Bus, which features a modified version of the Beetle's floorpan and the same 30-hp flat-four engine.

1963 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

German coach builder Karmann built this Volkswagen coupe, adding sporty style to the German automaker's lineup. Like the Type 2 Bus before it, the Karmann Ghia used the same engine as the Beetle, a 34-horsepower four-cylinder, for the 1963 model year.

1967 Volkswagen Type 2 21-Window Bus

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

This is a copy of the highly sought-after 21-Window "Samba" version of the Volkswagen Type 2 21-Window Bus. It features a white-on-orange paint scheme. In the U.S., 23-window variants were known as the Sunroof Deluxe. Instead of a sliding door, the Samba as two pivot doors.

1973 Volkswagen Squareback

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Like the modern crossover, the Squareback wagon sought to prove that smaller vehicles would still haul a family. This '73 has storage under the hood and in the back. The model has 65 horsepower and was one of the first vehicles to have fuel injection technology.

1973 Volkswagen Thing

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

This Thing wasn't designed to be part of the Addams family. The original concept was meant to be a military vehicle European nations. Called the Type 181, that model was off-road friendly. By the time the vehicle came to the U.S., the 46-horsepower convertible was marketed as "Thing."

1977 Volkswagen Dasher

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Dasher was designed to be a more premium model than the Beetle. Known as the Passat in Europe, the Dasher came in sedan, hatchback, and wagon variants. It was front-wheel drive and powered by a water-cooled four-cylinder engine that achieved 78 horsepower. Volkswagen produced the car for sale in the U.S. as the B1 from 1973-1981. It was the sister model of the Audi 80.

1979 Volkswagen Super Beetle

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Super Beetle marked the end of the original Beetle era. It was the last of original generation to be sold in the U.S. The Type 1 continued to be manufactured for sale at the company's Puebla, Mexico plant until 2003, 65 years after it for launched. This model is owned by Volkswagen and has less than 1,000 miles on its 48 horsepower four-cylinder engine.

1981 Volkswagen Scirocco

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The less-sexy Scirocco succeeded the Karmann Ghia in Volkswagen's lineup. It was a Giugiaro-designed coupe that started production in 1974 and ended its run in 1982, only to be revived in 2008. The Scirocco's production ended in 2017. This 74-hosepower model had fewer than 1,000 miles on it.

1982 Volkswagen Jetta Mk1

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen offered the Jetta as a sedan alternative to the Golf/Rabbit. The first generation of the model delivered European design and fuel efficiency. Soon after its debut in 1979 the model became the best-selling European car in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Its 76-horsepower engine was paired with either a five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission.

1984 Volkswagen Rabbit GTI

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The 1974, Volkswagen became selling the Golf MK1 as a front-wheel-drive, long-range replacement for the Beetle. It was known as the Volkswagen Rabbit GTI in the U.S. The Golf is still produced today for sale around the world.

1998 Volkswagen Beetle "New Beetle"

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Beetle returned as a modern car in 1997. It contained some of the quirky attributes that played on the heritage of the model including a dashboard-mounted flower bud vase. The New Beetle was in production until July 2019 as the automaker began to shift toward more electric vehicle production.

2019 Volkswagen Atlas

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Production of the Volkswagen Atlas began in 2017 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The three-row SUV was brought to market as a 2018 model. The Atlas is known as the Volkswagen Teramont in China, the Middle East, Russia, Mexico, and Rwanda.

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Improved hot hatch

The 2022 VW Golf GTI gets new handling tech

Improvements to the GTI's handling and steering should make it even faster in the curves.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the most recognizable and popular cars the automaker sells. After a bumpy few years that ended with the standard Golf model being nixed from VW's U.S catalog, we're starting to see concrete details on the upcoming performance variants of the car, which will thankfully end up heading our way. The eighth-generation Golf GTI and Golf R will make landfall in the United States as 2022 models, and will both feature a load of new tech and refinements. VW just announced the changes that are being made to the GTI's handling and performance systems, and they are extensive, to say the least.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI VW is offering the 8th-gen Golf only in high-performance GTI and R configurations.Volkswagen


Volkswagen is giving the legendary hot hatch a host of improvements, which the automaker says will give the car more precise, stable handling at its limit. The GTI's front suspension has been reconfigured with new wishbone bearings and damping hydraulics. VW says that the car's springs and buffer stops have also been revised, which will give the font axle spring rate that is five percent higher than its predecessor. A new aluminum subframe is also in place, which will reduce weight by seven pounds over the previous car.

The eighth-generation Golf brought a new VW Vehicle Dynamics Manager system which will also benefit the upcoming GTI. The system integrates the car's electronic stability control with its electronic differentials, and in GTI models equipped with the optional DCC adaptive damping system, the system adjusts individual wheel damping up to 200 times per second. The differential itself will now come standard with all GTI models. It's an electronically-controlled torque-sensing limited-slip unit, which varies the levels of its intervention based on how the car is being driven and on how the other traction control functions are being used.


2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI The GTI's steering is now more responsive.Volkswagen


The GTI's steering system has also been revised to now include an enhanced progressive steering function that uses software to help turn the vehicle with less steering effort, depending on speed. Volkswagen says that the GTI's steering takes just 2.1 turns of the steering wheel to go from lock to lock when it's equipped with 18-inch wheels.

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Two Volkswagen electric vehicles hang out side-by-side in Florida.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

With the pandemic becoming less of an issue as people get vaccinated and head out into the world, beloved automotive events are starting to come back online. One, the Amelia Island Concours D'Elegance, is taking place right now, and features some of the rarest, coolest, and most expensive vehicles in the country.

This year's event will be preceded by a parade of electric vehicles called Taking Charge, which will feature several electrified models. Volkswagen brought two EVs to the event this year, but there's a surprising twist with one of them. The ID.4 electric crossover will take part in the parade, and the other is a rare electrified bus form over 40 years ago.

1978 VW Elektrotransporter Early EVs had almost no power or range.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen's brand-new ID.4 electric crossover will participate in the parade. By now, most of you have probably heard about the vehicle, VW's first fully electric crossover. It recently took home 2021 World Car of the Year honors, and is on sale now. The ID.4 is cool, but it's the vintage EV that really caught our eye. The 1978 Elekrotransporter is based on a Volkswagen Type 2, and was originally used by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). VW says that it produced a handful of electrified bus and Golf models in the 1960s and 70s to test the feasibility of EV powertrains and charging. The Electric Power Research Institute snapped up ten buses to test with the TVA at the time.

1978 VW Elektrotransporter The EV was powered by 24 lead-acid batteries.Volkswagen

The electrified bus carries 24 lead-acid batteries held in a 1,225-pound pack under its floor. The electric motor is bolted directly to the existing gearbox, which is permanently locked in second gear and sends power to the rear wheels. The early electric powertrain only generated 23 horsepower, which gave the bus a top speed of just 48 mph. It did feature an early version of regenerative braking, a feature that is onboard nearly every EV made today.

1978 VW Elektrotransporter The bus used a combo of electric and existing drivetrain components.Volkswagen

It's easy to draw a line from the old Elektrotransporter to today's VW electric vehicles. The ID.BUZZ concept is the old EV's direct descendent, and will enter production in the EU in 2022. Unlike its grandfather, the ID.BUZZ will produce a combined system output of 225 kW, which equates to around 300 horsepower.

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