Historic Cars

The Volkswagen Beetle
The Volkswagen Beetle, officially the Volkswagen Type 1, is a two-door, four passenger, rear-engine economy car manufactured and marketed by German automaker Volkswagen from 1938 until 2003.
The need for this kind of car was formulated by Adolf Hitler, leader of Nazi Germany, wishing for a cheap, simple car to be mass-produced for the new road network of his country.
He contracted Porsche in 1934 to design and build it to his exacting standards.
On 26 May 1938, Hitler laid the cornerstone for the Volkswagen factory in Fallersleben. The factory had only produced a handful of cars by the start of the war in 1939; the first volume-produced versions of the car's chassis were military vehicles, the Type 82 Kübelwagen (approximately 52,000 built).
The amphibious Type 166 Schwimmwagen (about 14,000 built).
The factory produced another wartime vehicle: the Kommandeurwagen; a Beetle body mounted on a 4WD Kübelwagen chassis. The Kommandeurwagen had widened fenders to accommodate it's Kronprinz all-terrain tires.

Mass production of civilian VW cars did not start until post-war occupation.

669 Kommandeurwagens were produced up to 1945.

Dr. Ferdinand Porsche
After World War II, the car was officially designated the Volkswagen Type 1, but was more commonly known as the Beetle.

During the post-war period, the Beetle had superior performance in its category with a top speed of 115 km/h (71 mph) and 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 27.5 seconds with fuel consumption of 6.7 l/100 km (36 mpg) for the standard 25 kW (34 hp) engine. In 1949 the car was exported to the US. On 17 February 1972, when Beetle No. 15,007,034 was produced, Beetle production surpassed the previous record holder, the Ford Model T.

By 1973, total production was over 16 million, and by June 1992, over 21 million had been produced.
The final original VW Beetle (No. 21,529,464) was produced at Puebla, Mexico, 65 years after its original launch, ending an unprecedented 58-year production run.
Production in Brazil ended in 1986, then started again in 1993 and continued until 1996.

The last Beetle was produced in Puebla, Mexico, in July 2003.

The final batch of 3,000 Beetles were sold as 2004 models and badged as the Última Edición.

VW 1303/Super Beetle (1973)

James Dean's Cursed Porsche 550 Spyder
James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was an American actor. He is a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment and social estrangement, as expressed in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause (1955), in which he starred as troubled teenager Jim Stark. The other two roles that defined his stardom were loner Cal Trask in East of Eden (1955) and surly ranch hand Jett Rink in Giant (1956). Dean's enduring fame and popularity rest on his performances in only these three films, in two of which he is the leading actor.

He became the first actor to receive a posthumous Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Last photograph of James Dean taken hours before his death.
Since James Dean's death in 1955, the Porsche 550 Spyder has become infamous as the car that killed him.

While filming Rebel Without A Cause, James Dean had upgraded from the 356 to the 550 Spyder and decided that he wanted to make it uniquely his. Dean called upon George Barris, of movie car fame, to customize the Porsche. He gave it tartan seats, two red stripes over the rear wheels and plastered the number ‘130' on its doors, hood and engine cover.
On September 23 1955, Dean met actor Alec Guinness outside of a restaurant and had him take a look at the Spyder. Guinness told Dean that the car had a "sinister" appearance and then told Dean: "If you get in that car, you will be found dead in it by this time next week." Seven days later, Dean would be killed in the car.
Dean was travelling U.S. Route 466 at approximately 5:15 p.m. when a 1950 Ford Tudor made a hesitant attempt to turn away from an intersection, placing him at the center of the road. The porsche slammed into the driver's quadrant of a Ford Tudor, flipped and crossed the pavement onto the side of the highway. The driver, Donald Turnupseed, exited his damaged vehicle with minor injuries. Dean sustained numerous fatal injuries, including a broken neck.
George Barris bought the wrecked car and soon after it slipped off its trailer and broke a mechanics leg. Not long after Barris sold the engine and drivetrain to Troy McHenry and William Eschrid. While the two were both racing against one another in cars that had parts from the car, McHenry lost control and hit a tree, killing him instantly and Eschrid was seriously injured when his car suddenly locked up and rolled over while going into a turn.

Barris had two tires from the 550 which were untouched in Dean's accident. He sold them and not long after, both blew out simultaneously causing the new owner's car to run off the road. Barris kept the car but it caught the attention of two would-be thieves. One of the thieves arms was torn open trying to steal the steering wheel while the other was injured trying to remove the bloodstained tartan seat.
The curse continued when the car was being transported when the truck carrying it lost control which caused the driver to fall out and somehow get crushed by the car after it fell off the back. The car fell off two more transport trucks while travelling.

The car mysteriously vanished and has not been seen since.
The Corvair

1969 Chevrolet Corvair Monza convertible
The Corvair was a compact automobile produced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors for the 1960–1969 model years. It was the only American designed, mass-produced passenger car to feature a rear-mounted air-cooled engine.

The Corvair line-up included a two-door coupe, convertible, four-door sedan, and four-door station wagon body styles, as well as in passenger van, commercial van, and pickup truck derivatives.
Chevrolet had planned on ending Corvair production after the 1966 model year. Development and engineering changes were halted in 1966 on the year-old, redesigned second-generation cars with mainly federally mandated emissions and safety changes made thereafter.

Ralph Nader, attorney and consumer advocate, highlighted the Corvair's handling in his 1965 book Unsafe At Any Speed. 1966 Corvair sales subsequently fell to half from the sales of 1965. Controversy followed Nader's book. GM had over 100 lawsuits pending in connection with crashes involving the Corvair, which subsequently became the initial material for Nader's investigations.
The book highlighted crashes related to the Corvair's suspension and identified the Chevrolet suspension engineer who had fought management's decision to remove — for cost reasons — the front anti-sway bar installed on later models. Nader said during subsequent Congressional hearings, the Corvair is "the leading candidate for the un-safest-car title". Subsequently, Corvair sales fell from 220,000 in 1965 to 109,880 in 1966. By 1968 production fell to 14,800.
A 1972 safety commission report concluded that the 1960–1963 Corvair possessed no greater potential for loss of control than its contemporary competitors. A review panel concluded that "the 1960–63 Corvair compares favorably with contemporary vehicles."
The Corvair spawned a number of innovative concept vehicles including the Corvair SS, Monza GT, Monza SS, Astro I.

(click to enlarge)

Corvair Monza Spyder, 1965

Mussolini's girlfriend's Alfa Romeo

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini gave an Alfa Romeo to his mistress Clara Petacci as a gift. The pair met at Lake Como and planned to seek asylum in Switzerland.

A motorcade they were in, which included a retreating German anti-aircraft unit, was stopped at a roadblock near the town of Dongo on April 27, 1945. The fascist leader and his mistress were both identified before being shot dead and their bodies hung upside down at a petrol station. Petacci’s Alfa Romeo was confiscated and eventually acquired by an American Army Air Corps officer, Major Charles Pettit.

Correspondence between the pair convinced Keno that he had ownership of the historic car.
The vehicle was given a new lease of life in 1970 when it was purchased by Ron Keno of Mohawk, New York for $300. The antiques dealer was eventually put in touch with Franz Spogler, a former Nazi whose job it had been to drive Petacci and Mussolini towards the end of the war.
In late 1978 the partially restored Alfa Romeo was sold by Keno to collector Donnie Morton, of Connecticut, who ultimately passed it to the Imperial Palace Auto Collection. Staff restored and displayed it as part of their holdings of rare automobiles for the next two decades, until it was sold to another long-term owner in 1999.
A no-expenses-spared restoration with Garage Bonfanti followed. The work, which went so far as to recreate replicas of the original dashboard switchgear, reportedly took two years and cost a staggering €500,000 (roughly $625,000 in 2004).
The 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C2500 achieved a high bid of €1.8 million ($2.1 million), but failed to meet its reserve price.