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It didn't seem like much, an oddly shaped German car from a company called Volkswagen unloading on the docks at New York City 65 years ago this month.

Small, rounded, virtually no horsepower from an engine in back, not up front, using plain old air for engine cooling, rather than antifreeze.

Given the lingering anti-German sentiment so soon after World War II, and considering the car was the brainchild of Adolf Hitler, as well as how different the car was from what Americans were used to, it's a wonder the car and the company ever got traction here.

Two of the cars, quickly named Beetle or Bug because of the shape, were sold that first year. That apparently was enough to start a buzz, because VW and its Beetle still are here.

Officially called Type 1, that first Beetle was shipped to the U.S. from Rotterdam by Dutch businessman Ben Pon, Sr.

By the mid-1950s, more than 35,000 Beetle models buzzed along U.S. roads. By 1960, nearly 300,000 were zipping about.

Beetle was priced lower than typical U.S. models, used less fuel and had fewer things to go wrong.

Various histories of VW say that after the Allies defeated Germany, Britain got control of the VW factory, shipped the pieces to the U.K. but did nothing with the factory or the car.

A British report of the time was discouraging, saying the Beetle "does not meet the fundamental technical requirement of a motor-car ... it is quite unattractive to the average buyer ... To build the car commercially would be a completely uneconomic enterprise."

But the British military, encouraged by Maj. Ivan Hirst, an engineer, discovered the go-anywhere, last-forever nature of the Beetle and ordered enough to revive the German factory at Wolfsburg.

VW built more than 21 million of the original-design Beetles by the time production ceased July 2003 at Puebla, Mexico, the only plant still building the model.

In 1997, VW brought back -- thematically -- the car as the New Beetle. But the engine was water-cooled and mounted in front where it drove the front wheels.

In 2011, VW updated the design and dropped "new" from the name, shifting back to the Beetle designation.

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