|100 Years of Ferry Porsche|
No surprise, therefore, that Ferry Porsche later described the development of the Auto Union racing car compared with the Volkswagen as “child’s play”, since the engineers working on the Volkswagen were required from the start to act not only as constructors, but also as very shrewd businessmen. The objective was to maintain a sales price of 999 reichsmarks for the Volkswagen in the market.
One of the consequences of this price limit was to build the car without a hydraulic brake, which would have required the payment of licence fees to Lockheed as the holder of the appropriate patent. “The crucial point was to leave out everything we did not really need. So we took a very systematic approach, the car’s wheelbase following from the space re quired by four adults to enjoy acceptable roominess. And the track of the car was kept as small as possible, allowing the Volkswagen to drive along field paths and down narrow village roads.”
Time was short and the project did not exactly benefit from the lack of funds, with advance payments of 20,000 reichsmarks a month soon turning out to be much too low. The engineers were even forced to start building and assembling the first test cars in the garage of the Porsche Mansion in Stuttgart.
Another restrictive factor was the lack of space, especially since the machines used took up additional room in Ferry Porsche’s private workshop required to accommodate a drilling and milling machine as well as two lathes and of course the twelve-men development team. “Don’t ask me how we did it”, he said later, “but the first three prototypes called the VW Series 3 were all built there.”
Development of the Volkswagen took longer than planned, the first Volkswagen code-named V1 (V = Versuchswagen or Test Car) being completed almost exactly a year after the official start of development. On 3 July 1935 Ferdinand Porsche presented his new saloon to an RDA committee, the second test car, a convertible code-named V2, setting out on its maiden trip on 22 December. And again two months later, on 24 February 1936, the two first models of the Volkswagen made their official world debut in Berlin.