British designer of Volkswagen engine

A correspondent to a weekly contemporary stated that he had been told by a Volkswagen dealer that the original design of the engine of this car emanated from Britain, or was at any rate the work of a British engineer. He suggested that if this were true it was a pity British manufacturers had “missed the boat” by failing to develop it, but that if the story had no foundation then such “very subtle sales propaganda” should be debunked immediately. The latter course our contemporary was delighted to adopt, footnoting its correspondent’s letter “There in no truth whatever in the statement.”

However, a fortnight later it published a follow-up letter from Erwin Tragatsch who states that he knows positively that the basic Volkswagen design was that of the Englishman, Walter William Moore, who, according to Mr Tragatsch. was responsible for the design and prototypes between 1929 and 1935 when with the NSU Company in Germany. After NSU had abandoned the project the late Dr H Ing Ferdinand Porsche took over the drawings and prototypes to further develop the design of the Volkswagen.

Moore used to be head of the Norton racing department before the war and he then went to NSU and designed the famous blown parallel-twin racing engine used in the TT and GP motor cycles. So he may well have been responsible, either wholly or in part for the brilliant air-cooled flat-four engine of the Volkswagen which, in addition to its obvious immunity to a deep-freeze or a heat-wave, has the advantages of rapid warming-up, giving long-life in the hands of owners, such as doctors, forced to make lots of stops between short runs, immunity from hydraulicing should a gasket fail, low weight due to absence of water-jackets, radiator and coolant, precise control of oil-temperature because an oil-radiator can be set in the thermostatically-controlled cooling-air-stream (enabling 4.4 pints of oil to suffice, with practically no loss of lubricant between sump drainings), and a clean engine exterior consequent upon the dictates of the cooling system requiring a sealed engine compartment. Thus another accusation against VW that they are trying to bolster up sales here by falsely claiming a British designer. looks as if it has been burst wide open, and the Humber engineers who once reported that the Volkswagen was a pretty useless design were being rather unpatriotic !—WB