compassion, collaboration & cooperation iN transistion
after news of its dodging emissions standards broke. But less well known
[IS] the role a British officer played in saving the company directly after
the Second World War.
[IT] was August 1945 when Ivan Hirst – a 29-year-old major in the British
Army - had been assigned the task of dismantling the factory by his
military superiors. Germany was to have no industry worthy of the name,
allied commanders had decided. But Hirst saw enough potential in the
town and its sole source of income to try and save the plant.
He had himself worked as an engineer during the war and had been
impressed by the Volkswagen cars that Allied troops had captured from
the Germans. So he found the best remaining version of the car left over
from the Nazi period, painted it in camouflage, and presented it to his
superiors as the solution to their urgent need to replace vehicles damaged
during the war. The military hierarchy agreed and on August 22 work
began on a contract for 20,000 Volkswagen, plus 500 trailers and 500
[IT] was of course Ferdinand Piëch, the former chairman and chief executive
of Volkswagen, who recently died aged 82, that was the grandson of
Ferdinand Porsche, the designer of the VW Beetle, Adolf Hitler’s
“Car for the People’’, and son of Volkswagenwerk’s wartime manager
Anton Piëch; whom many saw Ferdinand as a chip off the old block.
A brilliant engineer, early in his career in the 1960s Ferdinand Piëch helped
to design the Porsche 906 and 917 racing cars. Moving to Audi, a
Volkswagen subsidiary, he developed the 80 and 100 models, and helped
I was the very proud owner of a Triumph TR4A which was fitted with
Laycock-de-Normanville Overdrive, before reverting to our family
ownership of a VW 411 LE Estate, following my original conversion
to the perfectly sensible IDEA of an air-cooled "BEETLE".
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