By Walter Henry Nelson. 303 pp. 8 3/4 in. x 5 1/2 in. (Hutchinson & Co. Ltd., 178-202, Gt. Portland Street, London, W1. £1.50.)
This is yet another book detailing the dramatic Volkswagen story—Hitler’s idea of a People’s Car or Volks-Wagen, brilliantly conceived by Dr. Porsche, the erection of an enormous factory on 5,000 acres of commandeered land at Wolfsburg, the war-time destruction of the VW plant, Britain scorning control of it afterwards, and its rehabilitation, leading to the overwhelming sales-success of the unique, quality-built and finished Beetle.
Incidentally, the fact that the somewhat dated Beetle remains uncrushable as an American import poses one of today’s leading automobile conundrums and its production growth has risen significantly, as this reviewer is well aware, having attended the party in Germany to celebrate the one-millionth VW, in 1955, which increased to 14-million Beetles made by 1971.
“Small Wonder” in its latest form gives the VW story from the American angle. Nelson claims to be non-technical but his description of the origins and development of the VW are adequate and the remainder of the book covers personalities, including the celebrated Dr. Nordhoff, in commendable detail, albeit the entire book is a boost for the product, which its manufacturers couldn’t have done better. It is a minor disappointment that, although Nelson deals with the introduction of the VW to the British and American markets, he makes no reference to Motor Sport’s enthusiasm for the Beetle at this time.
The latter part of the book tends to become journalese but on the whole this is a very readable one-make history.—W. B.