A Brief History of Prototypes – The Early Volkswagen Years

Words by Ned Faux & Photos from the Porsche Museum Archive.

Repairing drum brakes on a test run in the Alps – 1937.

The wheel looks almost as if it’s from a motorbike.

W30 prototype dash.

Check out the external wiper linkage! Didn’t a similar gear knob make a comeback on the Type 3?

The four-stroke two-cylinder ‘D’ prototype engine.

Test driving W30 Cab in the Alps – 1938

Notice – No taillights.

The first chassis designed to take a wooden floor.

A great example of their simplicity.

The ‘C’ two-stroke two-cylinder prototype engine.

Components of the ‘D’ prototype engine.

Also, only two cylinders.

V3/1 – 1936

With mounted headlamps and central horn cut in to the bonnet.

V3 prototype flat-four motor assembly.

V3 Prototype.

Notice the rear hinged ‘Suicide’ doors

Arms for torsion bar suspension.

V3 prototype out on the road.

The first V3/1 car to drive 50,000km sitting on the edge of the all new ‘Autobahn’

Ferdinand Porsche, not looking overly impressed, supervising assembly of the W30 at Daimler-Benz.

Ferdinad’s son ‘Ferry’ Porsche at the wheel of the V2 prototype – 1936.

The only W30 prototype not built at Daimler-Benz. This car was assembled in the garage at the Porsche villa.

W30 prototype engine – A design concept used throughout the rest of Volkswagen’s air-cooled history.

The first car in the W30 Series. 

Notice – First use of semaphore turn signals.

The chassis from the first V3 prototype.

Simple seats and a beam mounted spare wheel designed to take impact.

W30 cars lined up in military barracks ready to be test driven.

We’d be happy with only one!

The test dash in the 1937 W30

The dash bears little resemblance to production models.

Test driving W30’s in the Alps.

Notice – First introduction of a front bumper.

Controversial photo many claim (not Porsche) is a fake or staged.

Pre-Production W30 cars being dismantled and scrapped. Allegedly 1942

We can’t really see what he’s going to achieve with that hammer.

Reutter & Co GmbH building bodies for the VW39 pre-production cars.

A small space for a lot of staff.

V303 Engine.

The V303 Cabriolet being driven by Ferry Porsche.

V303 interior.

That steering wheel!

1938 V303 sedan with roll back roof.

Notice – The grab handles on the front seats.

1938 VW38 Dash.

“Design Perfection.”

VW28 with roll back roof 1938

A feature later to be replaced with the smaller ‘3-fold’ rag top.

Ferdinand Porsche and Karl Rabe in front of the VW38 drawing.

1938 VW38 chassis plans.

VW38 demonstrating its off-road capability.

If you search, there is some fantastic surviving video footage of these off-road demonstrations.

The aim was for five people to travel in comfort.

The VW39 with headlamps shielded as a precaution against air raids.

The 1941 production hall.

Notice – Factory-fitted ‘black out’ lights and central Notek shielded spot light.

Drawing of the VW39 emphasising luggage space.

Still using the ‘barrel’ fuel tank.

Ferry Porsche’s very own Cabrio.

Drawing of the VW39 dated October 3rd 1939

Beginning of 1941 Volkswagen production in Fallersleben (later to be named Wolfsburg)