7. Ferdinand Porsche
As you probably know, Ferdinand Porsche was an Austrian-German automotive engineer and founder of the Porsche car company. In the 1930s, Ferdinand Porsche sought to interest manufacturers in his design for a small and affordable family car.
In 1933, Porsche built his concept car, a forerunner of the VW Beetle, which he named the Volksauto. It had a torsion suspension, and a beetle shape, with a rounded front hood for better aerodynamics to compensate in part for a small air cooled rear engine.
After the Nazis came into power in March 1933, Hitler, having already been named Chancellor on January 30th, jumped on the “people’s car” bandwagon. In 1934, the Fuhrer issued a decree for the production of a basic car capable of transporting two adults and three children at 62 mph, while costing only 990 Reichsmarks–about $400 in the 1930s.
Hitler fell in love with Ferdinand Porsche’s design, but Germany’s auto industry could not produce a car for that price. That’s why Hitler ordered up a state-owned factory to produce the Volkswagen, paid for through a savings plan that put this new car within the financial means of most Germans.