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Car= cult/ see gems

1954, when VW still meant: beetle


A handsome A5, 68 pages booklet ‘Notice d’entretien’, about the VW beeltle, printed in black and a dark turquoise blue. Containing cartoon-style illustrations, photographs, some heavily retouched, like the chassis picture on p.66, as well as a fold-out exploded view drawing of the very car. I picked it up on my stroll at the sunday book market on Lange Voorhout in The Hague, in the first place because I loved the fold-out. But now, describing the booklet, I start to appreciate the entire production. Less than 9 years after WWii, it seems to have been issued in most European countries, as the cover design plays with the word ‘service’ in 5 languages. The cover radiates some sort of corporate design aesthetics, common in the US at the time – not so much in Europe though. January 1954 means this production was prepared in 1953.

The layout of the beetle is reminiscent to an early Tatra design of 1931, which, allegedly, designer Hans Ledwinka discussed with another famous Austrian car designer: Ferdinand Porsche, who took the lead after ‘political intervention’ of his German friends. After the war, Tatra even received compensation from Germany – but Ledwinka didn’t get a penny. Meanwhile Marshall money was doing the job in Wolfsburg and Tatra’s role in the field of passenger cars was soon over… All a communist needed was a heavy lorry.

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