Today In Manufacturing History: Beetle Beats Model T For 'Best-Selling Car' Title

On this day in 1972, the Volkswagen Beetle broke a world car production record as its 15,007,034th car rolled off the assembly line, beating out the previous record holder of more than four decades — Ford's Model T.

German Press Ball 1939. Dr. Ferdinand Porsche presents the Volkswagen tombola prize to Mrs. Elsa Ellinghausen, the lucky winner. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Bundesarchiv, Bild)
German Press Ball 1939. Dr. Ferdinand Porsche presents the Volkswagen tombola prize to Mrs. Elsa Ellinghausen, the lucky winner. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Bundesarchiv, Bild)

On this day in 1972, the Volkswagen Beetle broke a world car production record as its 15,007,034th car rolled off the assembly line, beating out the previous record holder of more than four decades — Ford's Model T. 

The Beetle came to life in the early 1930s in Germany when Adolf Hitler, the country's chancellor at the time, announced that he wanted to build new roads and mass-produced, affordable cars for the people. He met with engineer Ferdinand Porsche, who already had plans for a small mass-produced car in the works, and appointed him responsible for designing the Volkswagen — translated literally as the "people's car."

Ferdinand Porsche, creator of the Volkswagen. Image credit: Wikimedia CommonsFerdinand Porsche, creator of the Volkswagen. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Construction of the Volkswagen factory began in 1938 but was halted during World War II. After the war was finished, full-scale vehicle production started. In 1959, after the Beetle arrived in the U.S., a groundbreaking ad campaign for the vehicle launched Volkswagen to widespread acceptance and overall success. 

The Ford Model T was in production from 1908 to 1927. In that time, over 15 million Model Ts had been built, and many still consider the Model T to be the car that revolutionized the auto industry with the introduction of the moving assembly line

German Press Ball 1939. Dr. Ferdinand Porsche presents the Volkswagen tombola prize to Mrs. Elsa Ellinghausen, the lucky winner. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Bundesarchiv, Bild)German Press Ball 1939. Dr. Ferdinand Porsche presents the Volkswagen tombola prize to Mrs. Elsa Ellinghausen, the lucky winner. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Bundesarchiv, Bild)
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