Holden worker credited for design of VW Beetle

September 10, 2009 by Henry Benjamin
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Josef Ganz, who died in poverty in Melbourne in 1967, is now being credited with the design of the VW Beetle.

Josef Ganz

Josef Ganz

Orginally credited to Ferdinand Porsche, Hitler’s “People’s Car” is now the subject of a new book “The True Story of the Beetle” and a series of about to be made documentaries.

The book substantiates Ganz’s claim to having designed the Beetle. The Hungarian-born engineer first drew up plans for the car in Germany in 1923. It was innovative with its engine mounted in the middle of the vehicle and independent wheel suspension. He lacked funds to build it and went into collaboration with a German motor cycle company to produce the first prototype in 1930, calling the car the “May-Beetle”. Ganz’s designs took the motoring world by storm and he became a consulting engineer at BMW and Daimler-Benz producing their first models with independent suspension.

Ganz’s Beetle was introduced to the market in 1933 and immediately took Hitler’s fancy.  Arrested by the Gestapo in May 1933, Ganz fled Germany in June 1934, at the same time as Hitler assigned the Beetle project to be known as the “people’s car” to Ferdinand Porsche.

Ganz continued with the development of his Beetle in his new-found home in Switzerland, but there, too, he had his ideas claimed by others. In 1949 be moved to France but by that time the German VW had taken its grip of the market and Ganz’s plans to compete proved to be futile. In 1951, almost wiped out by court battles, Ganz left Europe for Australia where he worked for Holden.

He died in obscurity in 1967.

Now Dutch journalist Paul Schilporoord has published “The True Story of the Beetle” which hopefully may restore the credit of its design to a Jew lying in a Melbourne cemetery.

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