Thursday 3 June 2010

Deutsche Ingenieurwissenschaften

So it is sixty years since the first VW camper rolled out of the Saxon industrial hub of Wolfsburg: see this BBC link. It was based of course on the Beetle made in the same plant since the 1930s. When the British took over the factory after the war the plan was to ship the plant to the UK : this was not just "victor's spoils" but part of a policy to reduce Germany to a peasant economy producing nothing more industrial than bratwurst (the Allies relented in case you hadn't noticed). But British car manufacturers didn't want it because "the vehicle does not meet the fundamental technical requirement of a motor-car; it is quite unattractive to the average buyer; to build the car commercially would be a completely uneconomic enterprise". Presumably they had their eye on developing the Morris Marina so who can blame them?

Hafal's own microbus is proving a great success on its "Road to Recovery" tour around Wales but we hope that the anniversary may help us to sell her at the end of the campaign - if we can bear to part with her. Our plan from the start has been to recoup all costs and in fact we are quietly confident of turning a small profit.

A nice illustration of the VW's iconic place in Sixties counterculture is in Arlo Guthrie's anti-Vietnam ballad "Alice's Restaurant": see him performing here . Nobody in this office had heard of it because they are all too young (or too square).