Fate had different plans for the Mercedes-Benz 130H. But other manufacturers like Fiat, Citroen and of course Volkswagen achieved great success post-WWII with their idea of people’s cars. They were quirky, but that didn’t stop people from buying them.
The car that triumphed over the Mercedes-Benz 130H! The Beetle may have also had its engine at the wrong end and dubious road-holding qualities, but it was reliable, easy to maintain, cheap to run and built to last. And unlike the 130H, it was more endearing to look at! Over 21 million units of the Beetle were manufactured till production ceased in 2003.
The Nuova or new 500 was introduced in 1957. Designed and engineered by a genius called Dante Giacosa, the Cinquecento was a marvel of packaging. It had incredibly compact dimensions and the 480cc two-cylinder engine was placed at the rear. Of course, it had come-hither, cutesy looks to go with it too. Perfect for the medieval, narrow streets of Italy, the 500 was a huge hit — so huge that two-wheeler sales were affected by its launch. In the 18 years of its existence, close to 3.5 million were sold.
It was designed to move the French peasantry away from horses and carts. With the 2CV (simply, the two horsepower!), Citroen virtually invented the concept of an ultra low-cost car. Ingeniously designed, the 2CV was disarmingly simple but effective. Though it was initially greeted with derision, Citroen had the last laugh. The 2CV had a production run that lasted well over four decades, with the last of the 3.8 million units trundling out as recently as 1990!