Site hosted by Build your free website today!


The Volkswagen Beetle was originally known as the Volkswagen or the VW. When the Convertible and Commercial models were added to the range in the early 1950s, the Beetle became known as the Volkswagen Sedan. In workshop manuals and factory documentation, it was described as Type One.

The first use of the name Beetle may have been in England in 1950. There is a story that the nickname was given to John Colborne-Baber's VW (one of the first to be seen in England) by his son's school friends.

The name Beetle was certainly not in general use for the VW at the time. In fact, a team of Morris Minors was named "The Beetles" on the Circuit of Ireland in the early 1950's. In 1958, however, Autosport magazine referred to the "victorious beetles' on the Mobilgas Round Australia Rally". From around that time, the name was used occasionally in print, but with a small ‘b' and usually in inverted commas. Bill Boddy, the editor of MotorSport, who did a great deal to publicise the Volkswagen during that period, sometimes referred to the car as a beetle.

It was probably the introduction of the Type Three in 1961, which led to more general usage of the name Beetle for the Type One. Official nomenclature identified Type Three as VW1500 and Type One as VW1200, but as the model range increased to the 1300 and 1500 engines in Type One, a name became necessary to avoid confusion.

The VW was well-known as the Beetle when John Lennon and friends formed their famous pop group, after which it was sometimes mis-spelt as In 1967, official Volkswagenwerk publications began to recognise the term "Beetle" but it was still shown in inverted commas and the nomenclature remained VW1200, VW1300, etc. By 1969, the name Beetle had become the official generic term and appeared prominently in brochures and other publications.

The Americans, of course, have a different language (hood for bonnet, decklid for engine cover, etc) so they called the Beetle the Bug'. Nowadays, both Beetle and Bug are used in the USA. In Germany, the VW became Der Käfer, in France: la Coccinelle (Ladybird), in Italy: Maggiolino (Maybug), and in Norway: Bobla.

previous page
next page