The Volkswagen Beetle is one of the most iconic vehicles of all time. The VW Beetle—which is also known by many nicknames, such as the VW Bug throughout some parts of the English-speaking world—originated in Germany in 1938. The Beetle was actually one of the first vehicles that were produced by major automaker Volkswagen, which was founded in 1937—less than a year before production of the VW Beetle began in Germany. 

The VW Beetle was already years in the making after it finally went into its first production phase in 1938. The Beetle debuted in the auto industry at a time when cars were not yet mainstream. Not all households owned a vehicle, and cars were still considered unaffordable and inaccessible for many families. 

When the VW Beetle was in its design and production phases, it was nicknamed the “people’s car” because it was designed to be a mass-produced, affordable vehicle model that could meet the needs and the budgets of families around the world and make motor vehicles accessible for more households. 

After it was released, the VW Beetle became a model for automobile design and production around the world and inspired the designs and production models of countless other vehicles that were released in the years following the release of the original Beetle.

1946 VW Beetle

1946 VW Beetle

The VW Beetle’s role as an inspiration for other vehicles as well as the reputation it developed in popular culture over the decades in which it was available on the auto market molded the Beetle into a major icon in the auto industry. The Beetle is actually renowned as the number-one most-produced vehicle ever made—more than 21.5 million Beetles have been produced worldwide. 

The Beetle itself underwent many design changes over the years but retained its familiar shape throughout its entire lifetime. The VW Beetle remained available on the mainstream auto market from 1938 all the way until 2003—a lifetime that spanned more than 65 years—when it was finally discontinued by Volkswagen due to sales declines. Throughout the 65 years that the VW Beetle was available on the mainstream auto market, it changed in line with trends and advancements in-vehicle technology.

After the Volkswagen Beetle debuted in 1938, it had a bit of a rocky start. World War II broke out in Germany in 1939, which halted the production of the VW Beetle. Production of the Beetle returned in full swing in 1945 after World War II finally came to an end. 

The 1946 VW Beetle—which debuted soon after the end of World War II—is considered to be one of the most iconic Beetle models that define the Beetles of that time period in history. If you’re interested in the history of the iconic VW Beetle, keep reading to learn more about one of the early VW Beetle models—the 1946 Volkswagen Beetle Type 11. 

Powertrain of the 1946 VW Beetle 

The 1946 VW Beetle was powered by a 1.1-L air-cooled engine that generated 24.5 horsepower—which was considered very impressive at that point in history. Its 1131-cc engine is paired with a four-speed gearbox. 

Obviously, the 1946 Beetle had a manual transmission and required double-clutching for gear shifting. This Beetle model’s controls included a gearshift lever and a manual choke button. 

Design of the 1946 VW Beetle 

The 1946 VW Beetle debuted as a two-door, rear-engine economy car with a distinctive rounded shape. It featured a rear axle with single-acting shocks that maximized space for passengers and cargo and its gas tank was placed under its hood. The 1946 Beetle also featured 5.00 x 16 rubber tires that were larger than the tires of previous Beetle models. 

The iconic insect-shaped Beetle for the 1946 model year was designed with bright chrome hubcaps that helped it stand out on the road. Other notable characteristics of the 1946 Beetle include a pair of dashboard glove boxes and lighted turn-signal semaphores that could be activated by flipping a switch on the Beetle’s dashboard. 

The 1946 Volkswagen Beetle Type 11 is one of the most iconic and rare vehicles ever produced. After production of the VW Beetle shut down in 1939 due to the start of World War II, it was doubtful that the Beetle would ever successfully enter a new production phase. 

The Beetle defied expectations, however, and entered the post-war world as an iconic, ultra-popular 1946 model. Only about 10,000 1946 Beetle models were produced, and the 1946 Volkswagen Beetle Type 11 is considered to be a very rare vehicle today.