75 years ago, on April 11, 1945, US troops liberated the Volkswagen plant and freed 7,700 laborers who had been forced to build Kubelwagen military vehicles.
The assembly plant was later repurposed to build the Volkswagen Beetle.
But how much do you really know about this Beetle-based Kubelwagen “Volkswagen Jeep”?
Fasten your seat belts and sit tight as we reveal 15 facts about the Kubelwagen.
2) The 4-door utility roadster was built by Volkswagen during World War II for use by the German military.
3) Based heavily on the Volkswagen Beetle, the utility roadster was prototyped as the Type 62. It eventually became known internally as the Type 82.
4) The name, Kübelwagen, is a contraction of Kübelsitzwagen, which means ‘bucket-seat car’. This is because all German light military vehicles that had no doors were fitted with bucket seats to prevent passengers from falling out.
5) Like the Beetle, the Kubelwagen has an air-cooled engine mounted behind the passenger compartment.
The vehicle’s 25HP 1131cc 4-cylinder air cooled engine performed well in both hot and cold weather extremes.
6) The engine had no radiator, making it less susceptible to gunfire or shrapnel damage.
7) The engine allows the Kübelwagen car to reach a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph).
8) The cars had a flat underbody, allowing it to “sled” over mud, snow, and sand rather than bogging down.
9) Various body types and variants of the Type 82 were produced. These includes Type 82/0: Basic four seater; Type 67: 2-stretcher ambulance; and Type 82/I: Three-seat radio car.
Other variants includes Type 82/2: Sirencar and Type 82/3: Mock-up armoured vehicle/command car with machine gun-fitted turret over the cabin.
10) Kubelwagens were employed by German forces all over Europe, Russia, and North Africa.
11) The Kubelwagen was for the Germans what the Jeep and GAZ-67 were for the Allies.
12) The ever efficient millitary vehicles, also called Volkswagen Jeeps, were also used the US servicemen after the liberation.
13) When Volkswagen production ceased at the end of the war, 50,435 Kubelwagen vehicles had been produced.
14) Volkswagen resurrected the basic Kubelwagen design as Type 181 in 1969. The Type 181 was developed for the German Federal Armed Forces and later also produced for the civilian market.
15) In the US, the civilian version of the Type 181 was known as “Thing”, “Trekker” in the UK, and “Safari” in Mexico.
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