The Birth of the People's Car (II/IV)

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History Car History Concept Cars Prototypes Volkswagen Beetle Bug Käfer Hitler Porsche NSDAP Development
GIF: Hitler’s motorcade breaks the ribbon to the new Reichsautobahn, 19 Mai 1935

The construction of a 108 km (67 mi) long section of the Reichsautobahn, between Frankfurt am Main and Darmstadt, was completed on 19 Mai. The NSDAP hosted an opening ceremony in Frankfurt am Main where thousands of people gathered. There Hitler gave a speech, explaining that the construction project put thousands of German workers out of unemployment. He called the Reichsautobahn „Straßen Adolf Hitlers” (“Adolf Hitler’s Roads”).

The 1935 Avusrenne took place on 26 Mai. Unlike the last race, it was split into three races, two 5-lap heats and one 10-lap final. The best four drivers from each heat would race in the final. Bernd Rosemeyer, who was a motorcycle racer with no experience in automobile racing, made his debut as an Auto Union race driver at the race. In the first heat, Rosemeyer (#4 Typ A) was right next to Stuck (#1 Auto Union Typ B) in the front row of the starting grid. Stuck blasted off, racing with himself as usual. Rosemeyer didn’t have much luck. Due to his driving style—drifting around corners—he had to pit for new tyres halfway through the first heat. Shortly later, he retired due to engine failure. Stuck drove to his victory, followed by Fagioli (#7 W25). Auto Union’s race drivers, Achille Varzi (#2 Typ B) and zu Leiningen (#3 Typ A), raced in the second heat. Zu Leiningen was in lead, but retired due to engine failure. Varzi took the lead with Caracciola (#5 W25) on his tail. When the duo pitted, Varzi was still in the pits when Caracciola took off. Caracciola drove to his victory, followed by Varizi, who finished almost a minute later. In the final, Stuck and Caracciola were next to each other in the front row of the starting grid. After multiple pit stops for new tires, the German pack fought for the lead. Fagioli somehow outran the field, winning the race. Varzi and Stuck followed in third and fourth.

The dramatic 11-lap 1935 Eifelrennen took place on 16 Juni. It was the debut race for Auto Union’s new race driver, Paul Pietsch. For the first time, the race was started electronically by a new lighting system (red, yellow and green). With Stuck (#1 Typ B), Brauchitsch (#7 W25) and Caracciola (#5 W25) in the front row of the starting grid, they blasted off, battling for the lead. Varzi (#2 Typ B) was on their tail, but retired due to illness after the first lap. The car was handed over to Auto Union’s reserve driver, zu Leiningen, but his position fell far behind the field. Rosemeyer (#4 Typ B) and Pietsch (#3 Typ B), who started the race from the back of the grid, began to catch up. In the seventh lap, Rosemeyer noticed Stuck retiring due to sparking plug failure, and began working his way up to the leading pack. Brauchitsch was in the lead until his car suffered sparking plug failure, but it didn’t stop him. He drove, or, more accurately, dragged his slow car to the pits. The engine couldn’t take it anymore and blew, forcing Brauchitsch to retire. Caracciola took the lead until the eighth lap when a Nürburgring expert, Rosemeyer, overtook him. The overtake caused the German car enthusiasts to cheer with delight. With a shattered windscreen and two dead cylinders, Rosemeyer stayed in the lead until the final lap. Rosemeyer made the mistake of changing the gears too early, which allowed Caracciola to slip into the front. Rosemeyer couldn’t overtake Caracciola on the long high speed Döttinger Höhe straight. Caracciola won the race, closely followed by Rosemeyer, who finished 1,9 seconds later. Pietsch and zu Leiningen finished sixth and ninth.

GIF: RAD flag, 1934

The Reichsautobahn network was growing at a rapid rate. It was easy for many people to get a job constructing the Reichsautobahn. A new management was needed to handle a large growing workforce. The DAF established the Reichsarbeitsdienst (lit. Labour Service of the German Empire), RAD for short, on 26 Juni. The RAD organisation was dedicated to the ongoing construction project. Not only would RAD train people to work with construction equipment and cooperation. It also would train them the principles of the military. Many new RAD recruits were immediately deployed to various locations across Deutschland. Effectively speeding up the Reichsautobahn construction.

Porsche and HFB’s heavy involvement in the Grand Prix played an important role in the Volkswagen development. After intense study of Auto Union’s race results, analysis and mechanical problems the race drivers experienced. Porsche performed some minor corrections and improvements to various aspects, such as fuel and oil pumps, sparking plugs, ignition system, tyre pressure, gearbox, clutch, aerodynamics and so on, in its Volkswagen development. The problem with the engine remained unsolved, but the engine cooling system was improved. After missing the deadline by over two months, it was finally finalised.

Ferry wound the hand crank and the air-cooled flat four engine thundered to life. The cheering Porsche engineers stepped aside to make way for the vehicle. A sleek black streamlined prototype saw daylight for the first time as it backed out the garage at the Porsche family villa. It cruised through the streets of Stuttgart-Feuerbach, turning many heads.

After much blood, sweat and drama, the first Volkswagen prototype, Porsche Typ 60 V1 (Versuchwagen 1, Experimental Vehicle 1), was finally completed on 3 Juli 1935. The Typ 60 V1 was largely based on the Porsche Typ 32. The car was built on a backbone chassis with torsion bar suspension at the front, swing axles at the rear and an experimental 16 kW 900 cc flat four engine mounted behind the rear axles. Komenda evolved the body design from the one on the Typ 32. Drauz constructed the 60K1 (Typ 60 Karosserie 1), an aluminium limousine body on a wooden frame. Although the Typ 60 V1 bore almost every highlight Hitler and Porsche came up with. Porsche was continuing its search for ways to cut the manufacturing costs and to improve the car’s performance. What was more important was, the firm still had to come up with a satisfactory engine.

Ferry, who was recently put in charge of test driving the Volkswagen prototypes, test drove the Typ 60 V1 under various driving and road conditions to find problems objectively. Unlike the Typ 32, it was more successful in many aspects. Afterwards, Ferry chauffeured his father to the Reichsverkehrsministerium in the Typ 60 V1. There the prototype was inspected in detail by the RDA committee and engineers. They pointed out that the engine wasn’t desirable. Despite this, the Porsches were given the approval to start developing the second prototype.

The most important race of the season, 22-lap 1935 Großer Preis von Deutschland, arrived on 28 Juli. Unlike the 1934 Großer Preis von Deutschland, the race saw more drama. In fact, it started the second the light turned green. Stuck (#1 Typ B) was in the front row of the starting grid when his car stalled. Auto Union’s mechanic, Rudolf Friedrich, foolishly ran to the rescue. While nineteen other race cars were passing Stuck, they produced a large smoke. Varzi (#2 Typ B) had a poor visibility and accidentally struck Friedrich, fracturing his skull. When the start line was cleared, Stuck got a push-start and caught up with the pack. Varzi, who was in distress after the incident, drove slowly. The German crowd was shocked to see Scuderia Ferrari race driver, Tazio Nuvolari (#12 Alfa Romeo Tipo B), leading the German pack. Most of the Auto Union race cars in the far back. Rosemeyer (#4 Typ B) and Caracciola (#5 W25) eventually stole the lead from Nuvolari until the former had to pit with tyres in shreds. Varzi’s mental health was slipping and he began battling his own teammate, Pietsch (#3 Typ B), halfway through the race. Caracciola suddenly fell ill and was ordered to let the pack pass him. After a long battle with Nuvolari and the German pack, Brauchitsch (#7 W25) took the lead in the closing laps. Brauchitsch, who never went into the pits for a new set of tyres since lap 11, drove with his tyres in shreds. On the final lap, both of his rear tyres blew, but he continued racing on bare wheels. Unfortunately for Brauchitsch, he watched in horror as the new leading pack went past him at full speed. The German crowd fell silent when Nuvolari triumphed past the finish line in a bright red Alfa Romeo. They cheered half-heartedly when Stuck came in second 1 minute and 38 seconds later. Caracciola, Rosemeyer and Brauchitsch followed in that order. Varzi and Pietsch finished eighth and ninth. Deutschland was embarrassed after the race. The press made every effort to make Auto Union and Daimler-Benz sound more successful than they were in the race.

After several attempts to improve the engine cooling system to introduce more cold air; it turned out that improved engine cooling system did very little to help the overheating experimental engine. Reimspieß stepped in and studied his and Kales’ air-cooled flat four engines from the beginning. Starting with the one for the Typ 32. In August, he found and solved the problem in under two days’ time. Their engines had cylinders and pistons that were too long. A high RPM (revolutions per minute) was required for the pistons to make a complete cycle. The oil cooling system didn’t cool the oil fast enough, causing the oil to get hot and become watery. This resulted in friction, which caused the engines to overheat. Reimspieß began developing a new engine with shorter cylinders and pistons and a better oil cooling system.

GIF: NSDAP flags, 1935

To celebrate Hitler’s first year as the Führer, the NSDAP flag was adopted on 15 September. Almost every building was emblazoned with huge fluttering NSDAP flags and banners. They filled sprawling metropolises with more colours and German pride.

Rosenberger’s attempt to stay in exile ended in September. He engaged in a sexual relationship with an Aryan (non-Jewish Caucasian race) person. The act was illegal under the Rassenschande (racial defilement) law. Rosenberger was consequently betrayed and arrested by uniformed Gestapo. He was sent to KZ Kislau in Mingolsheim, Karlsruhe, Baden. Dr. Piëch and Veyder-Malberg stepped in and secured his release from concentration camp. His release came with a price. Rosenberger was ordered to leave Deutschland immediately. He had many commercial shares in France, so he moved there. Rosenberger began working as a representative for Porsche.

GIF: Typ 60 V2 undergoes testing, 1936

The second Volkswagen prototype thundered to life in the garage at the Porsche family villa on 22 Dezember. Despite the bitter cold and snowy German winter, the Porsche Typ 60 V2 was a cabriolet. The Komenda-designed, Drauz-constructed 60K2 was an aluminium cabriolet body on a wooden frame. Its roof was made of canvas, and it could be opened or closed manually. Other than the body style, inclined bonnet (the lid in the rear) and wider fenders, the 60K2 was identical to the 60K1. Its bonnet was slightly inclined to direct the airflow towards the vents in the back. The vents would introduce cold air into the improved engine cooling system. The Typ 60 V2 made a long trip to Berlin-Mitte and was approved by the RDA. Although the RDA expressed concerns over the engine. Porsche got to work developing a trio of Volkswagen prototypes.

After some time travelling around Europe, Ganz settled in Zurich, Switzerland. Running low on savings, he decided to pursue a career and develop a small economy cyclecar again. By 1936, he met and persuaded a wealthy Swiss lawyer, Ferdinand Fuchs, to provide financial aid for the development. Together, they established a small private firm called Erfindungs und Finanzierungs (Invention and Financing) AG, Erfiag for short. Ganz demonstrated his personal cars that were produced according to his patents, the Maikäfer and the Standard Superior Stromlinienform, before the Swiss government. The government granted him patent rights, giving Erfiag the go ahead to start the small cyclecar development.

Rudolf Caracciola of Daimler-Benz claimed the 1935 Großer Preis von Europa Championship victory with 17 points. Hans Stuck of Auto Union came in fifth with 36 points.

Reimspieß’s newly developed air-cooled flat four engine was ready for testing in Januar. The shortened cylinders and pistons effectively reduced the piston travel speed and oil consumption. The oil cooling system was moved to the top of the engine for better cooling. The new engine was made of Elektron alloy, magnesium-aluminium alloy to be specific. It was lighter, quieter, cheaper and far more fuel efficient. It had a capacity of 985 cc that produced a satisfying 17,5 kW. Thanks to Reimspieß, Porsche was saved.

The first of a trio of Volkswagen prototypes, Porsche Typ 60 V3/1, was completed on 5 Februar. The Typ 60 V3/1 was basically Typ 60 V1 with Reimspieß’s new engine and Drauz’s 60K3 aluminium limousine body on a wooden frame. Other than the body style, the 60K3 was almost no different from the 60K2. The boot (in the front) had two release buttons behind the headlights. The 60K3 had a rear window, which louvres were incorporated with the engine cooling vents. Porsche got to work on the next prototype, the Typ 60 V3/2.

On the evening of 24 Februar, Hitler opened the doors to the 1936 Berlin IAMA. There he proudly announced that Porsche was fulfilling his wish to motorise Deutschland. The crowd exploded in applause when two Volkswagen prototypes were unveiled before them. The Typ 60 V1 and the Typ 60 V2, with the top down, gleamed in the spotlight. There were mixed reactions from the crowd. Some liked them and some didn’t. Dr. Porsche stood obediently beside Hitler. The rest of his firm didn’t, but joined the crowd. They secretly took notes of the crowd’s reactions for possible improvements.

On the morning of 7 März, the Treaty of Versailles, a peace treaty that ended the First World War, was widely ignored. Hitler led a march of over 500,000 armed Wehrmacht (lit. Defence Force, German army) soldiers into the demilitarised Rheinprovinz. Britain was suffering from the Great Depression and France was facing political conflicts. They didn’t want to start another war, so they avoided interfering the NSDAP.

The 10-lap 1936 Eifelrennen took place on the dark, wet, foggy Nürburgring Nordschleife on 14 Juni. Due to the poor driving condition, the race was slow, but not for the young Rosemeyer (#18 Auto Union Typ C). Daimler-Benz saw its worst performance during the race. Immediately when the light turned green, Nuvolari (#4 Alfa Romeo 12C-36) led the German pack, leaving the rest of the field behind. After the second lap, a thick blanket of fog rolled over the racing circuit. The fog gave race drivers a visibility of up to 40 m, forcing them to slow down. Caracciola (#1 Mercedes-Benz W25K), who was an expert race driver on wet surfaces, overtook Nuvolari in the third lap, but suddenly retired due to engine failure. Thanks to the flying lessons Rosemeyer got from his girlfriend Elly, he could navigate in the fog, and quickly took the lead. In the eighth lap, Brauchitsch (#10 W25) suffered the same fate Caracciola had. The visibility was reduced to 30 m, forcing many race drivers to drive slowly in groups. Rosemeyer, however, was driving at full speed. He crossed the finish line, and it took over two minutes for the rest of the field to catch up. The Italian pack, Nuvolari and his teammates, Antonio Brivio (#3 12C-36) and Guiseppe Farina (#16 8C-35), followed, finishing in that order. Varzi (#6 Typ C), Stuck (#2 Typ C) and a new Auto Union race driver, Ernst von Delius, (#11 Typ C) followed, finishing in that order. The Reichsführer-SS (lit. SS leader of the German Empire), Heinrich Himmler, was present at the race, and he was impressed with Rosemeyer’s driving skills. Much to Rosemeyer’s dislike, Himmler drafted him into the SS and promoted him to the rank of Obersturmführer-SS (first lieutenant of the SS) for propaganda purposes. Rosemeyer became a new national hero and he was nicknamed Nebelmeister (Fog Master).

After Porsche’s failed attempts to persuade Auto Union, Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works) AG, BMW for short, Adam Opel AG, Opel for short, and Daimler-Benz to mass-produce the Volkswagen in an existing plant. It was decided on 4 Juli that the Volkswagen would be produced under a new, independent automaker in a new plant. Dr. Porsche, who lacked knowledge in starting up a new automaker from the ground up, began studying the topic. He noticed that many European automakers were producing cars by hand due to lack of manufacturing technology and techniques to produce cars at a rapid rate. He added it to his study.

GIF: Rosemeyer, right, and his newlywed wife, Elly, left, embrace one another at the 1936 Großer Pries von Deutschland, 26 Juli 1936

The 22-lap 1936 Großer Preis von Deutschland on 26 Juli was Daimler-Benz’s worst championship race of all time. At least in the 750 kg Formula, which started in 1934. Lang (#20 W25K) somehow broke his finger while changing the gears in the first lap. Rosemeyer (#4 Typ C) shot to the front in the next lap. Caracciola (#12 W25K) retired due to mechanical failure in the following lap. Brauchitsch (#14 W25K) pitted due to a mechanical failure. He later retired after being in the pits for over 8 minutes. When the car was finally repaired, Caracciola took over and reentered the race. Unfortunately for him, the car hit another mechanical failure, forcing him to retire again. Lang finally went into the pits to put his broken finger in a splint. Caracciola took Lang’s car and reentered the race again. Daimler-Benz race driver, Louis Chiron, (#18 W25K) was involved in a high speed crash in the thirteenth lap. He was rushed to the hospital in a critical condition, but survived. Delius’s (#8 Typ C) hands started to blister and bleed because he didn’t wear gloves at the race. Walb regretfully ordered him to continue due to lack of reserve drivers. Now that it was Daimler-Benz’s turn. Caracciola’s car fell apart, forcing him to retire for the third time. Fagioli (#16 W25K), who didn’t get along with Neubauer, pitted only to complain to him about the W25K. Neubauer had him forcibly pulled out of the car. Caracciola took Fagioli’s car and reentered the race for the third time, despite being many minutes behind Rosemeyer. The German crowd thought Daimler-Benz was becoming ridiculous, and started booing. Rosemeyer started to take it easy in the closing laps. He crossed the finish line, followed by Stuck (#2 Typ C) 4 minutes later. Auto Union race driver, Rudolf Hasse (#6 Typ C), and Delius followed, finishing fourth and sixth. Caracciola finished fifth place, which was impressive after retiring and swapping cars repeatedly. Rosemeyer unknowingly set a new lap record multiple times. The best was 9 minutes and 56 seconds.

The second and third of three Volkswagen prototypes were completed by September.

The second prototype, Porsche Typ 60 V3/2, was still being developed. The third prototype, Porsche Typ 60 V3/3, was completed first. The Komenda-designed, Reutter-constructed 60K4 all-steel limousine body on a steel frame was slightly evolved from the 60K3. The headlights were moved to the front wings, so the spare tyre, luggage compartment and petrol tank could be easily accessed. The bonnet was slightly reworked with an improved engine cooling system.

The Porsche Typ 60 V3/2 was identical to the Typ 60 V3/1, using Reutter-constructed 60K3 all-steel body on a steel frame. The Typ 60 V3/2 was noticeably heavier, but it was cheaper to manufacture. After successful suspension tweaks for improved weight distribution, Porsche decided to ditch aluminium in favour of steel.

All three Porsche Typ 60 V3 prototypes made a trip to Berlin-Mitte, and they were approved by the RDA. The RDA expressed doubts and ordered Ferry to conduct a series of abusive road tests on the prototypes. He would have to reach at least 50,000 km (30,000 mi) in each one of three Typ 60 V3’s by the 22 Dezember deadline. The first road trip Porsche would go on with the prototypes was Monza, Lombardy, Italy. They would attend the 1936 Gran Premio d’Italia (Grand Prix of Italy), which would take place there on 5 September.

While Ferry was conducting road tests on the Typ 60 V3 prototypes. Dr. Porsche and his nephew and personal secretary, archivist and interpreter, Ghislaine Kaes, who could speak English and German fluently, left for Cherbourg, Manche, Basse-Normandie, France, in early Oktober. There they boarded the T.S. Bremen, a luxurious ocean liner that would take them to New York City, New York, United States of America, USA for short. Dr. Porsche and Kaes went on a month-long journey to various American automotive manufacturing and assembling plants such as Chrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company and Hudson Motor Car Company. To continue Dr. Porsche’s study on technology and techniques to produce cars in large volumes. He learnt that it was done by a simple process of stamping sheet metal and assembling them on top of pre-made chassis.

GIF: Dr. Porsche overseeing engineers preparing the Typ 60 V3/3 for testing, November 1936

Ferry took Dodo and their 1-year-old son, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, on many long road tests, or, more accurately, road trips in the Typ 60 V3’s. They went to many picturesque locations, such as Austrian and Swiss Alps, Budapest (capital of Hungary), Rome (capital of Italy), and Schwarzwald, to find mechanical problems objectively. The road tests were performed in various uncontrolled driving and road conditions to test different aspects with different configurations. Driving in the cold, heat, snow, rain, fog and dark, going up and downhill, going on twisty mountain roads and so on. Ferry successfully performed over 50,000 kilometres (30,000 miles) worth of abusive systematic driving in the prototypes before the 22 Dezember deadline.

At some point in 1936, the successor to the experimental Tatra Typ 77, Typ 87, was released. It didn’t make an appearance at the 1936 Berlin IAMA. The Typ 87 was mechanically identical to the Typ 77, using an improved 65 kW 2,9 L V8 engine.

The second car that didn’t make an appearance at the 1936 Berlin IAMA was Tatra’s new small car, Typ 97. It was basically a smaller, more economical version of the Typ 87, using an air-cooled 30 kW 1,7 L flat four engine mounted behind the rear swing axles.

Deutschland’s new hero, Bernd Rosemeyer the Nebelmeister, claimed the 1936 Großer Preis von Europa Championship victory with 10 points. Hans Stuck and Achille Varzi came in second and fourth with 15 and 19 points.

After the holidays, Porsche Typ 60 V3 prototypes were handed over to the RDA for inspection. The prototypes saw additional abusive systematic driving by the RDA’s staff of test drivers. The tests were performed in controlled and uncontrolled driving and road conditions. The prototypes were subsequently dismantled by the RDA’s staff of engineers for detailed inspection. By Februar, the prototypes were reassembled and returned to Porsche along with a report detailing the RDA’s findings. The prototypes had one severe and two moderate mechanical problems. The most severe were fractured cast iron crankshafts. The others were faulty electric fuel pumps and gearboxes. The RDA pointed out that the boot was too small and difficult to remove the spare tyre. Although the RDA still expressed doubts about producing the Volkswagen at a rock bottom price of only 1,000 RM. The report concluded that the development of the Volkswagen was sound.

Satisfied with the positive report from the RDA, Porsche went to work addressing these problems. After diagnosing the problems, it turned out that they weren’t related. While the problems were being addressed by other engineers, Rabe reworked the chassis. Making it smaller with improved compatibility for the new, smaller body. A “beak” to secure a spare tyre in place was added to the front of the chassis for the first time. Although Kales and Reimspieß were in favour of electric fuel pump because it was cheaper, easier to replace and had fewer parts. It was replaced with a mechanical one, which was quieter and more reliable, but costly and more difficult to replace. The cast iron crankshaft was replaced with a forged steel one based on the one Ferry developed for the Auto Union GP race cars. The engine didn’t need to be reworked for the new crankshaft. Fröhlich discovered that the unsynchronised four-speed manual transmission was damaged from inexperienced test drivers constantly grinding the gears. The gearbox mechanics remained unchanged. It was decided that the next prototype would be evolved from the Typ 60 V3/3, the one with headlights on the wings. With the additional costs of improvements, Komenda designed a new 60K4-like body that would use thinner steel to cut the manufacturing costs. The louvres would have angled slots, and they would be incorporated with the engine cooling vents for a streamlined, art deco approach.

By spring, a small streamlined two-seater prototype, ERFIAG, cruised the streets of Zurich slowly. It was mechanically identical to the Maikäfer, using a deafeningly loud air-cooled 350 cc single-cylinder engine. Upon demonstrating the prototype before the Swiss government, Erfiag was approved to continue development. Like the NSDAP, the Swiss government liked the idea of putting unemployed people into work producing small economy cyclecars.

The designs and blueprints of the new body were finalised and handed over to Reutter. In the following week, the coachbuilder constructed and delivered the 60K5, an all-steel limousine body on a steel frame, for the next Volkswagen prototype. The body wasn’t immediately mounted because Ferry was in the process of test driving a new bare running chassis. The 60K5 was smaller with fewer bends and straighter design elements for sturdier body and frame. It was cheaper to manufacture than the 60K4 for the Typ 60 V3/3. Dr. Porsche learnt some new details from Reutter about the process of producing bodies. Hand-built bodies had fewer errors than machine-built ones, but they were more costly and time-consuming to manufacture. In other words, steel stamping machines had to be perfect before they could start producing bodies.

By April, after a matter of days of test driving the new bare running chassis, the 60K5 was finally mounted on top of it. The sixth Volkswagen prototype, Porsche Typ 60 V4, backed out the garage at the Porsche family villa. With a new body, chassis and many other improvements, it was almost a whole different car. Although the Typ 60 V4 was noticeably smaller than the previous prototypes. It had increased head, shoulder and leg room, and it was a lot more comfortable to drive.

The DAF Reichsorganisationsleiter (Head of organisation of the German Empire), Robert Ley, made several important announcements on 28 Mai.

First, amid skepticism from the RDA, the NSDAP found Porsche’s ongoing development of the Volkswagen rather successful. The development would be transferred to one of DAF’s organisations, Kraft durch Freude (Strength through Joy), KdF for short, and funded by the state. Porsche would receive an annual grant of 500,000 RM from KdF to continue development. Porsche would also receive the funds to move to a bigger facility with offices, design studios, workshops and garages. The development could take place there instead of at the small, crowded garages at the Porsche family villa.

Second, the chair of the KdF, Dr. Bodo Lafferentz, formed a new programme called Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH (Preparation of the German Volkswagen GmbH), GEZUVOR for short. Dr. Lafferentz, Dr. Piëch, Dr. Porsche and Werlin would be put in charge of the preparations under Ley’s supervision. The GEZUVOR headquarters would open its doors in Berlin-Grunewald.

Third, not only would the programme help with starting up the automaker; it also would help develop a new town for factory workers. The Bund Deutscher Architekten (Association of the German Architects), BDA for short, a professional architecture organisation, would develop the plant and the settlement under the supervision of Hitler’s personal architect, Albert Speer.

Finally, Werlin would establish a joint venture between Daimler-Benz, Reutter and Porsche to help speed up the development. Daimler-Benz, which had experience in constructing rear-engined cars on backbone chassis, and Reutter would receive the designs and blueprints for the current and future Volkswagen prototypes to produce copies for testing and promotional purposes. The soldiers, who were members of the NSKK, at the barracks in Stuttgart-Vaihingen would be assigned to test drive the prototypes.

Following the announcement, the Volkswagen development advanced at full speed.

The German car enthusiasts felt the breeze of high speed streamlined race cars bolting by them on 30 Mai. The AVUS racing circuit opened its doors after being under construction during most of the 1936 Grand Prix season. Unlike any other GP races in Deutschland, the 1937 Avusrennen saw some streamliners from none other than Auto Union and Daimler-Benz. Dr. Goebbels was present at the spectacular race to use it to fuel the propaganda. Fagioli, who was sick and tired of Neubauer, left the Daimler-Benz team to join Auto Union’s. He made his debut at this race. The 1937 Avusrennen had two 7-lap heats and one 8-lap final. Two top German race drivers, Rosemeyer (#31 Typ C) and Caracciola (#35 Mercedes-Benz W125), found themselves trapped with each other in the first heat. To fuel the excitement, they were driving streamliners. Three non-streamliners, driven by Delius (#32 Typ C), Daimler-Benz race driver, Richard Seaman (#38 W125) and a private race driver, Renato Balestrero (#44 Alfa Romeo Tipo B), entered the first heat. The drivers decided not to pit for new tyres, so the race started slowly. Non-streamliners shot to the front due to their lightness. They were quickly passed by the streamliners on straights. Balestrero fell far behind the field. Delius and Seaman took the lead on corners because their cars had better handling. Caracciola and Rosemeyer sped up after the fifth lap, chasing each other at speeds as fast as 280 km/h. The duo skilfully passed each other repeatedly on the straights, using the slipstream manoeuvres. On the Nordschleife, the last turn before the finish line, Caracciola and Rosemeyer were almost side-by-side. Caracciola floored it and crossed the finish line, closely followed by Rosemeyer, who finished three-fourths of a second later. Delius, Seaman and Balestrero followed, finishing in that order. The second heat saw three streamliners, driven by Fagioli (#33 Typ C), Brauchitsch (#36 W125) and Lang (#37 W125), and three non-streamliners, driven by Hasse (#34 Typ C) and two private drivers, László Hartmann (#47 Maserati 8CM) and Luigi Soffietti (#48 Maserati 8CM). The non-streamliners shot to the front only to be outran by the streamliners seconds later. The privateers fell out of the spotlight by over two minutes on the first lap. Fagioli, who was still unfamiliar with the difficult rear-engined Auto Union race car, went too fast on a turn and crossed the line into the grass. The incident caused his car to have gearbox problems, but he could stay with the streamliner pack with Brauchitsch in lead. Unlike his bad experience with Neubauer, Fagioli was calmly ordered by Walb to retire in the fourth lap. One of the tyres on Lang’s car had a blowout at 280 km/h, but he could safely bring the car into the pits. Brauchitsch slowed down a little because his car was the only streamliner for a few minutes. He calmly crossed the finish line. Lang floored it and caught up with Hasse in the final lap. However, on the deadly Nordschleife corner, Hasse shifted too close to Lang, forcing the latter to slam on the brakes to avoid a fatal crash. Lang’s streamliner wobbled sideways with its tail suspended in the air on a 45-degree curved corner, but he quickly regained control. Hasse finished second, closely followed by a white-faced Lang, who finished 3 seconds later. The poor privateers finished over 3 minutes later. Hasse ran to Lang in the pits to comfort him with a hug and an apology. The final race saw the best drivers from each heat. That meant four streamliners and four non-streamliners. HFB couldn’t fully repair Rosemeyer’s engine, therefore forcing him to race handicapped with only thirteen cylinders. Caracciola blasted off, closely followed by Brauchitsch. The latter quickly retired one-fourth way through the first lap due to gearbox failure. The field was struggling to stay in a pack; the streamliners were faster on straights and the non-streamliners were faster on corners. In the third lap, the gearbox in Caracciola’s streamliner melted, forcing him to retire. The race was down to only two streamliners driven by Lang and Rosemeyer, who was struggling to catch up on only thirteen cylinders. Lang eventually slowed down during the closing laps and claimed victory. Delius, Hasse, Rosemeyer and Seaman followed in that order.

The 1937 Eifelrennen took place on 13 Juni, and it was a surprisingly calm 10-lap race. Immediately when the green light lit up, a duel between Caracciola (#6 W125) and Rosemeyer (#1 Typ C) ensued. The latter secured the lead in the third lap. It became a calm race after that lap. Seaman (#9 W125) suddenly retired in the second lap due to fuel pump failure. The German crowd and race organisers saw the fastest pit stop ever. Rosemeyer went in for a 25-second pit stop for new tyres and refuelling halfway through the race. The pit crew pushed Rosemeyer out of the pits with a 45-second gap ahead of Caracciola. Most of the Mercedes-Benz race cars suffered a sparking plug failure due to new fuel pump, but they managed to finish the race. Rosemeyer crossed the finish line, followed by the German pack. The pack had a black sheep, and it was Nuvolari (#11 12C-36), who finished fifth. Delius (#2 Typ C), who was struck by a bird during qualifying and crashed his car a day earlier, had to drive an old, slow 1936-spec Typ C and finished in a miserable tenth place.

Daimler-Benz and Reutter produced and delivered thirty Typ 60 V4 chassis and thirty 60K5 bodies to Porsche. The bodies were immediately mounted, and a large batch of Volkswagen prototypes was completed in mid Juni. After the GEZUVOR was established, Typ 60 V4 was renamed Typ 60 VW30. Although the name of the first prototype remained unchanged. The cars were later handed over to the barracks in Stuttgart-Vaihingen where they would be test driven by soldiers. Ferry provided the soldiers with instructions to find problems objectively during the test drive. The soldiers were allowed to drive the Typ 60 VW30’s to various locations for testing and promotional purposes. Knowing this would take a while to complete, Porsche moved on to other priorities.

Towards the end of Juni, while the Typ 60 VW30’s were being tested, Dr. Porsche and Kaes made their second trip to New York City. This time they were joined by Ferry. Dr. Lafferentz and Werlin. The European GP teams were aboard for the 1937 George Vanderbilt Cup Race, which would take place on 3 Juli at the Roosevelt Raceway racing circuit in Westbury, Long Island, New York. After enjoying their time off in Kleindeutschland (Little Deutschland, a German-speaking neighbourhood in Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City), the trio attended the race. The race was delayed for two days because the American GP race drivers couldn’t drive in the light rain. It was Deutschland’s first race on the American soil since the end of the First World War (1918). As an insult to the American car enthusiasts, Rosemeyer (#4 Typ C) effortlessly won the 90-lap race, followed by the European pack. Most American GP race drivers finished last or DNF. After the race, the trio met with Dr. Lafferentz and Werlin. They went on a journey to American automotive plants, previously visited by Dr. Porsche and Kaes. Ferry, Dr. Lafferentz and Werlin were shown the process of producing cars at a rapid rate. They studied production engineers of German origin at the Ford Motor Company’s River Rouge assembly plant in Dearborn, Wayne, Michigan, USA. The engineers showed the group the process of producing cars in great detail and answered many questions. Dr. Lafferentz persuaded them to move back to Deutschland to help develop assembly lines for the Volkswagen plant.

Hühnlein announced in the Juli issue of Motorwelt (Motor World, a German automotive enthusiast magazine) that there would a new state-sponsored endurance race from Berlin to Rome, Lazio, Italy, in September of the following year. Knowing the Volkswagen would be officially announced before the race, Dr. Porsche later saw a great opportunity to market the car. After persuading Dr. Lafferentz to develop a new sports car around a spare Porsche Typ 60 chassis for the race, he was quickly given the go ahead.

The nightmarish 22-lap 1937 Großer Preis von Deutschland took place at the scenic Nürburgring Nordschleife on 25 Juli. Last year’s championship race was Daimler-Benz’s worst. This year was unfortunately Auto Union’s turn, and it was a complete disaster. Nürburgring experts, Rosemeyer (#4 Typ C), Caracciola (#12 W125), Brauchitsch (#14 W125) and Lang (#16 W125) blasted off, leaving the field behind. They viciously battled for the lead. Rosemeyer eventually stayed in lead during the opening laps. Auto Union race driver Hermann Müller (#6 Typ C) careened off track and crashed into the guardrail to avoid crashing into Delius (#2 Typ C) in the second lap. He was uninjured, but his car was totalled. Another misfortune for Auto Union followed. One of Rosemeyer’s experimental hubcaps suddenly shattered. He was ordered to slow down and go into the pits for repairs. He fell three painful minutes behind Lang, who was leading. The Daimler-Benz pack was leading in the first, second, third and fourth places. Delius, who was the closest to the pack, was ordered to speed up, so Rosemeyer could catch up. Stuck (#10 Typ C) retired in the second lap due to engine failure. With two cars down, one with a hubcap in pieces and two running in the field, Auto Union began to become anxious. In the sixth lap, Delius touched Seaman’s #18 W125, causing them to lose control and crash. Delius’ car was thrown off the track, crash-landing on a public road nearby. His Typ C disintegrated and he suffered multiple injures. The race was red flagged and Delius was rushed to the hospital. Once the green flag was dropped, Rosemeyer caught up with the German pack. Lang, who was in lead, pitted with a sparking plug failure. After chasing Nuvolari (#22 12C-36) for a while, Rosemeyer made the pass that put him in the comfortable third place. Caracciola took the chequered flag, followed by Brauchitsch and Rosemeyer, who finished 45 seconds and a minute later. Nuvolari, Hasse (#8 Typ C), Daimler-Benz race driver Christian Kautz (#20 W125) and Lang followed in that order.

On the next day, the German car enthusiasts were shocked to learn that the young Auto Union race driver, Ernst von Delius, passed away from complications from his injuries. He was only 26 years old and had a successful future ahead of him. Delius died doing what he loved.

After returning to Deutschland in August, with the help of a team of architects, Martin Kremmer, Emil Mewes and Fritz Schupp, Dr. Lafferentz, Dr. Piëch, Dr Porsche and Werlin began the long process of developing the Volkswagen plant and the settlement. The group boarded a plane to search for a site for the new plant and settlement. According to the notes Dr. Porsche took during his stay in the United States, accessibility and proximity were essential. The plant should be near a motorway, railway and waterway and the settlement should be nearby. A 50 square kilometre (20 square mile) parcel of land on the banks of the Mittellandkanal (Mittelland Canal) in Fallersleben, Gifhorn, Provinz Sachsen, was selected. The team of architects was given the task of developing the plant and the settlement.

Komenda went ahead and designed cabriolet and limousine versions of the 60K5 body with bumpers and taillights. He also began evolving new cabriolet and limousine bodies from the 60K5 for the next Volkswagen prototype. Many changes were made to simplify the body such as flush headlights, wholly hinged boot lid, front-hinged doors, fewer recessed design elements, hidden horn, moon hubcaps and so on. Narrow and impractical running boards were added for the looks. Komenda wanted to add a curved rear windscreen, but it was too expensive to manufacture at the time. He settled for a rear split windscreen that would use two flat glass plates. The louvres were removed and a rearview mirror was added for improved visibility. The limousine would have two versions, one with a roll back sunroof and another without. Rabe began experimenting with adding bumpers to an existing Porsche Typ 60 VW30.

By September, twenty-nine Typ 60 VW30’s were returned so Porsche and Reutter could perform some safety modifications. Ironically, one of the cars was involved in an accident, and it was totalled. The front and rear bumpers and taillights were added to the cars. Despite the approaching winter season, one of the Typ 60 VW30’s had its 60K5 limousine body converted to all-steel 60K5+60K2 cabriolet body on a steel frame. The windscreen frame, windows, canvas roof, folding roof frame and rear were based on the 60K2, the aluminium cabriolet body for the Typ 60 V2. The roof could be opened or closed manually. The batch of modified Typ 60 VW30’s was returned to the barracks to resume the road tests in Oktober.

The 750 kg Formula, as well as HFB’s and Walb’s contracts with Auto Union, ended after the 1937 Donington Park, which took place in England on 2 Oktober. Robert Eberan von Eberhorst, who helped develop the Auto Union GP race cars, took over the supervision of the team. Rudolf Caracciola of Daimler-Benz claimed the 1937 Großer Preis von Europa Championship victory with 13 points. Hans Stuck and Bernd Rosemeyer came in fifth and seventh with 20 and 28 points.

Dr. Porsche decided that “motorising Deutschland” shouldn’t be limited to the automotive industry and motorsports. The agricultural industry should be included. Porsche landed a contract with Landwirtschaftsschule Hohenheim, an agricultural school in Stuttgart-Hohenheim, on 24 November to develop a small economy tractor. Dr. Porsche, who helped develop a diesel tractor for Benz & Cie., OE, asked Porsche to develop one that would bear similar qualities from the Volkswagen development.

In Dezember, after weeks of carefully redesigning the body for the next Volkswagen prototypes; Komenda finalised the designs and blueprints and handed them over to Reutter. This time the coachbuilder would construct a nonmetallic mockup of the body. Porsche could examine the body and make further refinements.

Porsche received an early Christmas present: the 60K6, a fibreglass limousine body on a wooden frame. Porsche modified the chassis of the crashed Typ 60 VW30 by adding chrome wraparound bumpers with two banana-shaped blades, then mounted the body. The rolling mockup, Porsche Typ 60 V303, was completed in time for the holidays.

In Dezember, Kremmer, Mewes and Schupp presented their scale model of the Volkswagen plant before the BDA. The plant would be laid alongside the Mittellandkanal (left side). Both the heating and power plants (lower right) would be laid closer to the canal for cooling and water turbine generators. The flat complex and community centre (upper left) is where factory workers could get together for fun social activities. The new settlement nearby would have a bigger community centre with housing. The BDA committee, led by chief architect, Speer, approved the study. The planning for the construction would start in Januar of the following year.

Continue to Part III

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