Plattenwagen is a surprisingly important Volkswagen vehicle that no one remembers

Plattenwagen is a surprisingly important Volkswagen vehicle that no one remembers

Volkswagen is one of the biggest automotive companies in the world and it has millions of fans, who adore the long history of the brand. Everyone knows that the beginings of Volkswagen were the Käfer (better known as Beetle) and the legendary Type 2 minivan. However, aren‘t we missing something? There was also a car called the Plattenwagen, which would appear on the timeline in between the Beetle and the Type 2,

Volkswagen’s history is actually quite simple. Käfer was conceived before the WW2. It was meant to become the car for the masses. Cheap, practical and a genuinely good way to travel – Käfer was bound to be a huge hit. However, the WW2 changed these plans dramatically. Instead of mass production of the new car, entire industry was employed to manufacture guns and military vehicles. And so instead of the Käfer the world saw a military off-roader Kübelwagen and an amphibian version of it named Schwimmwagen. However, once the war was over, Käfer was pushed into production and onto its global success. But there was another special little Volkswagen that helped making these little Beetles.



Meet the Plattenwagen – Käfer-based light truck. You have probably never seen one, because it was actually never sold to general public. Volkswagen built the Plattenwagen for itself – it was meant to distribute various parts inside the factory. And that’s what it did – workers would load heavy engines, transmissions and other car components into its front loadbed and the Plattenwagen would be on its way to the other end of the factory where these parts would be installed. Because of how utilitarian and primitive the Plattenwagen was no one even though of making them for sale – who needs a bizarre backwards pickup truck thing? But for Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg it was a very useful tool.

(Bundesstefan, Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Plattenwagen was based on Käfer’s platform, but featured a somewhat weird layout. Its open cabin was situated right above the air-cooled engine. It had two separate seats or one bench. Just like the Käfer, Plattenwagen was rear-wheel-drive and had a simple manual gearbox. Its frame was a bit stronger than Käfer’s – it was constructed from heavy steel pipes, which were strong enough to support a huge load of cargo in the front.

Plattenwagen’s wheels were significantly larger as well and between the axles there was a big fuel tank. Even though Plattenwagen was not intended to be driven on public roads, it had a proper windshield wiper, headlights and side mirrors. In fact, some Plattenwagens even had a fully enclosed cabin protecting drivers from the rain, but the list of comfort features pretty much stopped there. The loadbed had simple wooden sideboards meant to prevent things from sliding and falling on the ground.

(Hasse A, Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

For what it was Plattenwagen was quite quick and manoeuvrable. In fact, when a Dutch importer of Volkswagen cars Ben Pon visited the Wolfsburg factory in 1947 he immediately got inspired by Plattenwagen’s performance. He quickly sketched a new commercial vehicle, which could benefit not only Volkswagen’s factories, but also farmers and small businesses across the world. This simple sketch was the beginning of the history of the Type 2.

(Rhin0, Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Volkswagen’s commercial vehicle division now is very strong, offering its customers extremely high-quality products. And now you know that the beginning of its history was the humble Plattenwagen, which was special enough to become an inspiration for one of the most iconic cars ever.



Other interesting machines:

What is this tractor doing in the middle of a flower field?

Why Challenger Terra Gator TG 8333 has just three wheels?

Electric trucks are far from new – they were delivering goods a hundrend years ago;

Scammel Scarab – it is not your ordinary semi-truck – it is the mechanical horse;

Goliath GD 750 – three-wheeler truck with a tiny engine was more useful than it looks;

General Motors Bison – a vision of trucks of the future from 1964. Why didn’t it stick?

Car adverts from the past: fake stunts, unsuccessful blind dates and cosy lovely Multipla (Videos)

Car adverts from the past: fake stunts, unsuccessful blind dates and cosy lovely Multipla (Videos)

Nowadays car commercials have employ a variety of visual effects to make them more dramatic and more memorable. However, not so long ago these methods and technologies were not available. Car advertisers had to use all their creative powers to make clips as appealing as possible. However, some car commercials now look just a little funny. We collected five weird, funny or interesting car commercials from the past for your amusement.

This is the second part of the series – we kindly invite you to check out the first article for more automotive ads.

Audi 100 was a huge success for the brand. It was a big, roomy saloon car, known for its toughness and reliability. With Quattro all-wheel-drive system it could pretty much go anywhere as seen in this commercial.

You might have noticed that a steep incline was a little too much for the good old Audi – you can clearly see a cable dragging it up. Of course, there is nothing wrong with using the cable to make the stunt possible – we’re sure that today they do the same trick. However, nowadays they would have put more efforts into disguising the cable. But in 1986, when this commercial aired, TV’s weren’t that great, so maybe people didn’t even notice.

Volkswagen Golf was always a very important car for the brand. Second generation Golf is probably one of the most iconic ones, as it was slightly better than the first one, but still had its round headlights, unlike the third one. However, it was never meant to be a luxury car, regardless of what this clip may trick you into thinking.

They say that the loudest thing in Rolls Royce is its interior clock. Now it looks like the loudest thing in Golf is squeaky jewellery – you can’t even hear the clock! It is quite funny, but we are slightly worried about the girl in the passenger seat – how come she did not wake up from that laughter?

Golf was the most popular Volkswagen, but not the only one. Passat was there too, trying to alter the image of the brand. A commercial with a blind date might have done the trick.

You see, the problem was that people used the word Volkswagen to basically describe the Beatle. A medium size sedan as Passat didn’t really fit well with people’s idea of what Volkswagen is. So the company decided to change it by once more repeating – it is not an Audi, it is just another Volkswagen.

But not everyone wanted just a reliable, efficient car – some people wanted to be more flamboyant than that. Opel Calibra was their answer – a small, affordable sportscar. Check its commercial out.

People loved modifying Calibra’s. In fact, they did it to a point that people do not really like them now. We forgot how good it was originally – aerodynamic, well-equipped and cheap. But the commercial still looks quite weird. Opel Calibra was never a particularly smooth or quiet car.

Some of you may not even know Opel Calibra at all. But everyone knows Fiat Multipla – a six-seater family car. Its unusual layout with three seats in the front may be admirable, but its design was just astronomically ugly. However, in this commercial it does look weirdly attractive.

Looks cosy, doesn’t it? We can ignore the fact that they showed Multipla’s front just for a fraction of a second – commercial still looks cool. Too bad the car was not really well-built and was ugly as dog’s vomit.

That’s all commercials we collected for you for today. Don’t forget to check out the first article if you haven’t done so until now.



5 bizarre and funny car commercials from the past: do you know how to treat a LADA? (Video)

5 bizarre and funny car commercials from the past: do you know how to treat a LADA? (Video)

Selling cars is not an easy business, unless you are making ultra-cheap Ford Model T’s and people keep buying them because everything else sucks or is unaffordable. Therefore, car manufacturers now invest in ads in social networks and YouTube, as well as in image development, to make their cars look cool in the society’s eyes . However, before internet became a thing, automakers had to come up with really good ideas for TV commercials. Today NODUM presents the 5 weirdest automotive commercials. And that is something you just have to see.

Is it a plane? Is it a bird? No, it’s a SAAB. Not so long ago Sweden had two large automotive brands – Volvo and SAAB. Volvo was always known for its safety and reliability, while SAAB was slightly more innovative and kind of crazier. Maybe it was just part of the SAAB spirit, since it began its history by actually making planes.

So take a look at this commercial of the SAAB 900 from the 1980’s.

Except its questionable production process and the lack of CGI to make the transformation a little more exciting, it is a pretty good piece. SAAB is using its strengths and is proud about being the only plane manufacturer to produces cars. But the SAAB airplane manufacturing practices never really translated into automotive endeavors. Furthermore, despite the fact that the parent company of SAAB Automobile did make fighter jets (and still does), some of the planes in these commercials were not made by SAAB.

Here is another example of SAAB trying to bridge the fighter planes and cars – a relation that simply did not exist.

The Volkswagen Golf GTI wasn’t even a car. There is no doubt that the Mk. 1 Golf GTI was a great car – it kicked off the entire trend of hot hatches. It was light and nimble and reasonably powerful for its size. And, unlike many other German cars, it had a sense of humor. So what would it’s commercial look like?

Some quirky 80s’music – a special German song, devoted to the greatness of GTI, some sideways action and a bold statement at the end.

So it turns out Volkswagen Golf GTI wasn’t even a car. Who would’ve though? It was a Volkswagen and not a car.

I like it going up and down. SAAB and Volkswagen ads were rather serious. MINI, however, always was a funny little car, meant to provide smart, comfortable way of travelling to everybody. And, of course, it was fun to drive too. But how do you encourage people to buy one? BMC, which owned MINI brand until 1968, decided to show that MINI suits everyone’s needs.

MINI had wind-up windows (big deal back in a day), decently powerful engine, incredible handling and looked rather nice too. So all of that had to be mentioned. Girl in bikini is enjoying windows a little too much…

Whoever you are, wherever you are, it is just a car for you. Commercial might be funny, but you shouldn’t laugh at MINI – it won the legendary Monte Carlo rally three times.

That’s not how to treat a LADA. Soviet Union and then Russia built many cars, many of which were absolute garbage. However, some of them were decent enough for them to make it to export markets, meaning that commercials had to be made to popularize them. For example, LADA Niva – a small SUV kind of thing. Nowadays we might even call it a crossover.

Here’s a commercial from Sweden, allowing you to relive Russian stereotypes and learn how to treat a LADA.

Do we have to tell you why this is funny? Well, let’s just say that Niva was not a hot hatch and didn’t really like going fast.

Strong, sturdy and with a will of its own. We mentioned Ford Model T before so it’s only right to show one of its commercials. There is no denying that Model T really got people into cars. It came right on time, cost just the right amount of money and with proper care it could reliably serve for years. But, apparently, it could also go off road.

It might seem counterintuitive, but technically all cars from early 1900’s had to go off road, because there were not that man good roads. So a strong vehicle, which would not fall apart after going into a ditch, was preferred. Can your car go into a ploughed field? Ford Model T definitely could.

There are many interesting automotive ads. Before fancy editing techniques and CGI took over, directors had to rely on their creativity alone, which sometimes produced very artistic and sometimes very funny results.



The new original – Volkswagen presents up! GTI, which takes inspiration from the first Golf GTI ( Video)

The new original – Volkswagen presents up! GTI, which takes inspiration from the first Golf GTI ( Video)

Modern cars are getting fatter. Models are becoming larger and larger with every new generation and it seems that there is no end for it. The first Volkswagen Golf was a rather small car, but the current one is relatively big, which is not really a problem, but don’t you miss small and cheerful hot hatches? If you do, you’re in for a treat – Volkswagen has just introduced a new up! GTI and it is very similar to the original Golf GTI.

People often think that the first generation of the Golf GTI were the first hot hatches created. That’s not true – the first one was Autobianchi A112 Abarth from Italy or, if we ignore its lack of a hatch, the original Mini Copper. However, the Golf GTI really did kick off the popularity of hot hatches. It was an instant hit and made other manufacturers take notice of it.

The original Golf GTI was an instant hit – thanks to it, hot hatches became very popular. (Stahlkocher (CC BY-SA 3.0) | Wikimedia)

The Golf GTI came to be because German autobahns belonged to big saloon cars and expensive sports cars. There really wasn’t anything reliable that could go fast and be decently affordable. Volkswagen then decided to use its very popular Golf as a basis for a completely new breed of car and thus the Golf GTI was born.

It was a really good car, although you may find it hard to consider it sporty. It reached 100 kph in 9 seconds and could speed up to 182 kph. Not very fast, was it? But, for those times, it was pretty impressive, especially considering how small and relatively cheap the Golf GTI was. It had 110 hp (81 kW), but it weighed only 810 kg – the light weight made it really agile and nimble.

As for the looks, it didn’t differ that much from the normal Golf. It had slightly bigger wheels, a wider track, a red stripe around the front grill and a nice big fat lip. So how does the new up! GTI follow its example?

The new up! GTI took inspiration from the original Golf GTI and it shows – the cars specs are very similar. (Volkswagen pic.)

It can reach 100 kph in 8.8 seconds and its top speed is 197 kph, so it is faster to a certain extent. It is a bit more powerful as well – its turbocharged engine produces 115 hp (85 kW).  It is heavier though – safety and comfort technologies mean that modern cars are heavier. However, a 997 kg weight is still quite impressively light.

And, of course, the new member of the GTI family has its red stripe, checked pattern seat upholstery, golf ball shift knob and a number of other styling features. Nice large 17 inch alloy wheels look especially nice, since the car is sitting 15 mm lower than the usual up!

We predict it is going to be an instant classic. It takes what is best about the original Golf GTI and gives it a modern twist. It is not the fastest hot hatch, nor it is the best looking. But it’s not pretending to be any of that. It is honest, light and simple. And refreshing for it.



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