Conflict with Tarta

Much of the Beetle’s design was inspired by the advanced Tatra cars of Hans Ledwinka, particularly the T97. This car also had a streamlined body and a rear-mounted 4 cylinder horizontally-opposed air-cooled engine. The Tatra V570, a prototype for a smaller car, also shows quite a resemblance to the later Volkswagens. According to the book Car Wars, Adolf Hitler called the Tatra ‘the kind of car I want for my highways’.[4] In the same book, it is said that Ferdinand Porsche admitted ‘to have looked over Ledwinka’s shoulders’ while designing the Volkswagen.[5] Tatra launched a lawsuit, but this was stopped when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. At the same time, Tatra was forced to stop producing the T97. The matter was re-opened after WW2 and in 1961 Volkswagen paid Tatra 3,000,000 Deutsche Marks in compensation. These damages meant that Volkswagen had little money for the development of new models and the Beetle’s production life was necessarily extended. Tatra ceased producing passenger cars in 1950, then resumed again in 1954 as a manufacturer of large luxurious cars and limousines under various Communist governments in Czechoslovakia. Even its last limousines showed similarities to the Beetle, as they were rear-engined and air cooled. Tatra is now a truck manufacturer.


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