As you may or may not know, I have a thing for early Volkswagens. I’m also aware of how problematic that is, what with all the Nazi history. That may not have been as much of a problem for Jesse James, who may find the Nazi associations a bit more of a plus than most people. Regardless, the car he’s selling on eBay right now is pretty amazing, partially because of its difficult history.
The car in question is a 1944 Volkswagen/KDF Type 82e. For those of you who aren’t VW geeks, KDF stands for Kraft durch Freude which means Strength-through-Joy, and was the original, Nazi-selected name the VW was to be sold under.
The ‘Type 82e’ part means that even though this looks to most people just like any old Beetle, it’s actually quite different. The chassis this car is built on is from the Beetle-derived wartime Volkswagen, the Kubelwagen.
Kubelwagens were Germany’s Jeep during the war, and while mechanically very close to a stock Beetle (or KDF, or Type 60, or later the Type I, and so on) there’s a couple of key differences, most notably that the Kubels used a portal axle at the rear to gain some ride height for larger tires and some extra low gearing.
The Type 82e’s were designed to be a Kommandeurwagen, a sort of rugged car for officers, with the capabilities of a Kubelwagen but with a more comfortable, enclosed body. Only 669 of these were made up to 1945, when allied bombing stopped production.
After the war, when the British took over the factory, more were produced, mostly to get through the supply of Kubelwagen chassis before moving to civilian car production.
This particular car has been advertised as, according to the eBay ad:
This car was issued to WWI Luftwaffe Ace and WWII Reichmarschal Hermann Goring, February 8th 1944.
...which certainly suggests this was Hermann Göring’s car. This is most likely not the case, and it’s unlikely that Göring even drove the car, as it was part of a batch of 20 that were sent to Göring’s Luftwaffe offices. Most likely these cars were given to top Officials and possibly even some pilots, but there’s no evidence that the infamous war criminal himself ever used the car.
But there’s no question this car has significant historical importance, and, I’m hoping it ends up in a museum.
Personally, I don’t think I’d ever want an early VW with such obvious Nazi ties, and besides, if you want a really badass off-road Beetle, the later Type 87s made under British occupation were much cooler.
I mean look at this—not only does it have widened fenders for beefier tires, but it’s got that amazing roller in the nose to help it get over obstacles! That’s much cooler, and it was built when the Allies were running the show.
Anyway, if you really want a historic WWII vehicle and have $525,000 to throw around, you can just click the Buy It Now button and possibly help fund Mr. James’ new Nazi memorabilia acquisitions.