Cars from 1920 to 1950 - The golden age of the car
Mercedes Type 170 H
Body style: coach convertible
There’s no coincidence about the resemblance this vehicle bears to the VW Beetle. Both were designed by Ferdinand Porsche, who had worked on a small rear-engined automobile during his time with Mercedes in 1933.
Three successive versions were sold by Mercedes from 1934 onwards, and this is an example of the third version.
This car is a rear-wheel drive, with a four-cylinder water-cooled engine with lateral valves, an idea that was taken up after the war by Renault on its famous 4 CV. This car nevertheless had a big failing. Its rear engine and X-shaped chassis platform gave it very poor handling. Only 1500 units were produced. Since most of them were destroyed during the war, this example is rare these days.
Ferdinand Porsche left Mercedes to found his own design firm. In 1938, he designed a rear-engined, air-cooled motorcar that the Nazi regime decided to put into series-production, with the name ‘Volkswagen’, the people’s car. It came to be known as the Beetle, and still holds two outright records - over 24 million units were produced over more than 60 years.
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