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Type 82 Kübelwagen     The German government sold special stamps that could eventually be used to purchase a real KdF Wagen. In theory, as soon as 200 stamps were collected, they could be redeemed for a car. However, the KdF Wagen was not to be, and it never progressed beyond the prototype/demonstration stage. In later years, many people who collected these stamps took Volkswagen to court seeking compensation, since VW never made good on the KdF stamps. The KdF Wagen factory was busy pumping out Type 82s: Kübelwagens. The Kübelwagen was a simple looking military vehicle that basically used the same parts as the KdF Wagen, but had a flat-sided body, and increased ground clearance. It was essentially the Germany's "jeep" in WWII. Type 166 Schwimmwagen During the war, the company also produced an amphibious vehicle, which was known as the Type 128, and later as the Type 166: the Schwimmwagen. This vehicle was powered by a 25hp engine, and had a retractable ducted propeller in the rear for water use. In the water, the Schwimmwagen could achieve up to 5mph, and surprisingly steered in the water with its front tires. There were over 50,000 Type 82s produced, and less than 16,000 Schwimmwagens produced during the war. There were several military off-shoots of the KdF Wagen produced during the war:

  • Kommandeurwagen: KdF Wagen with ragtop sunroof, four-wheel drive, increased ground clearance
  • Papler: The Papler company built several four door versions of the KdF Wagen for use in parades and for police
  • Hebmüller: Hebmüller produced hundreds of custom two seat KdF Wagen convertibles
  • Porsche even experimented with very unusual powerplants, such as a wood-gas engine, compressed CO2 engines (very short range), and more.

    The KdF Wagen factory after the war     The KdF Wagen factory was a prime target for allied forces during the war, and before long, it was partially destroyed. After the war was over, the British Army took over the factory. The British were interested in the factory, because they needed light transportation: what else could they do? The factory was brought back up (it was still damaged, however) with leadership provided by Major Ivan Hirst of the British Army, and by the end of 1945, had produced more than 2000 cars. Most of them were produced from spare parts that were left in the factory. Within a year, the factory had produced over 10,000 cars, all thanks to assistance from the British government. Sometime after 1945, the company was named Volkswagen by the British, who also renamed the town at the factory "Wolfsburg", which was the name of a local castle. The British sought to give control of the company to able hands: the Ford company turned the offer down because it thought it would be a waste of money, the French government refused; nobody seemed to want the company. In 1949, the British government was finally able to relinquish control of the company to the German government. Heinrich Nordhoff was appointed as the senior executive of Volkswagen, a move which proved to be a very good one.

     
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