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History History

From the shop floor

My first car and the next eight were all VW Beetles. The next two were Type 3s - the first a Notchback 1500S and the second a Variant 1600. My first VW was a `1959 1200 and I still own the same car. It took me all over Europe without problems and over 300,000 plus miles it went through one clutch at 175.000. It’s still on the second clutch. While owning this car I went through the next 7 Beetles and the T3s. My favourite VW was and is the 1500S and I still have one. I have auto-crossed, trialled, rallied and raced VWs.

Ireland has a long VW history

The Volkswagen was assembled in Ireland for many years and exported from Ireland to the UK for a lengthy period by Stephen O Flaherty’s operation. Larry Mooney was a roaming technical expert who worked for Stephen and also competed successfully for many years in motor sport with VWs. I have the pleasure of personally knowing these pioneers of VW and motorsports and of working professionally on the VWs.

The Beetle must be one of, or maybe the most versatile and popular small cars in the world, with a long and wonderful history, conceived and brought into existence by the need for a simple reliable means of transport in any climate, designed and engineered by men with great vision and superb engineering skills, common goals and attention to the smallest detail. They can be tuned to have awesome performance or kept as a docile pet. Regardless, they are now a motoring icon and an appreciating asset.

Then the VW lacked a water pump, radiator, water hoses, water jacket, cast iron engine block, but the lack was a great advantage in simplicity and weight saving, still not fully appreciated today. A cold morning start in the Artic or a hot start at midday in the Sahara was all taken in its stride and no need for anti-freeze or any other special attention either. You just need to change the oil frequently, grease the joints and observe physics when cornering hard.

The many names of the VW Beetle

The VW Beetle is known under many names in many countries, usually local translations of the word “Beetle". Thus:-

  1. Käfer (Kaefer) in Germany.  
  2. Coccinelle in France,
  3. Seda' or Fusc' in Brazil,
  4. Σκαθ?ρ' or Scathari meaning Beetle or Σκαραβα?ο' or Scaraveos meaning Scarab in Greece,
  5. Maggiolin' in Italy,
  6. Sedá' or Voch' in Mexico.
  7. Kever in the Netherlands,
  8. Kuplavolkkar or kupla (meaning bubble) in Finland.
  9. Kotseng kub - hunchback car, Pagong (turtle) or in the Philippines.
  10. Kodo in Indonesia.
  11. Garbu' (Hunchback) in Poland.
  12. Brou' in Czech Republic .
  13. Caroche in Portugal,
  14. Bub in Serbia,
  15. Escarabajo in Spain and Latin America.
  16. Pet  in Bolivia,
  17. Volk  in Puerto Rico,
  18. Hro  in Slovenia ,
  19. Hipushit in Israel ,
  20. Косτенурк' (Kostenurka) in Bulgaria ,
  21. (Ag-ru-ga) in Iraq,
  22. Bagg  skalbagg', (beetle) or bubbl' (bubble) in Sweden,
  23. Bobl' (bubble) in Norway,
  24. Bub' in Croatia ,
  25. Põrnika' in Estonia,
  26. Kaplumbağa' or tosbağa' (meaning turtle) in Turkey.

All meaning either Beetle or Turtle.


Michael Higgins MSc. I.T. Glasgow, BSc. M Eng. London and MT SIMI, Dublin.
A student all my life and still a student. The MT is Motor Technician, a Diploma awarded by the SIMI (Society of the Irish Motoring Industry) for Motor Engineering, Garage Organization and Practise and Auto Electrical Engineering Diploma course – run by Bolton Street College, Dublin.

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