How did this 1939 Volkswagen Kubelwagen reach India

Among the vintage cars showcased at Lavasa last weekend, there was a Volkswagen Kubelwagen belonging to Dhananjay Badamikar. Not much is known about the historic vehicle except that it was manufactured in 1939, and is powered by a horizontally opposed four-cylinder petrol engine.

The 4-speed manual has a 3050mm wheelbase for the 4990 mm tempo and weighs in at 1909 kg. Dhananjay Badamikar bought his Kubelwagen from a dealer in Hyderabad back in 2004. The war vehicle carries 2 spare wheels hoisted on either side of the tempo.

Volkswagen Kubelwagen (14)

While there’s no real average or top speed to talk about, the car in question did endure a few breakdowns on it’s way to the showcase ground at Lavasa. Registered as AAB-9, as per the current owner, his Volkswagen Kubelwagen wears it’s original paint scheme, and he has only had to undertake very minor work on the car. While a number of cars were parked outside Lavasa International Convention Centre (LICC), Scot Wrighton, City Manager of Lavasa, India, and Dhananjay Badamikar did oblige with a photo op.

Volkswagen Kübelwagen more commonly known as their bucket car borrowed heavily from Beetle, and served as a light military vehicle during World War II for the German military. It was pretty much a German jeep story at its inception.

Since Beetle’s chassis was inept at handling military use stress, a lightweight option was designed by sub-contracted Trutz, a military coachbuilder. Kubelwagen’s light weight and ZF self-locking differential worked well for the purpose built vehicle.

Type 62 was further developed to reduce lowest speed from 8 km/h (5.0 mph) to 4 km/h (2.5 mph) to keep pace of marching soldiersand improve off-road ability with new axles with gear-reduction hubs to improve torque and ground-clearance. Alongside, revised dampers, 41 cm (16 in) wheels and a limited slip differential was included and the vehicle renamed Type 82. Top speed was pegged at 80 km/h (50 mph).

Full scale Type 82 Kübelwagen production started in February 1940, and ended in 1945. Through the period, minor modifications were made by doing away with unnecessary parts and reinforcing some which had not performed as expected. When production was stopped, 50,435 Kübelwagen vehicles had been produced.

Volkswagen did bring back Kübelwagen design as the 1969 Type 181 developed for the German Federal Armed Forces, and for civilians. The tempo was at this time badged as ‘Thing’ in US, ‘Trekker’ in UK, and ‘Safari’ in Mexico. In design and appearance while it stayed true to its roots, almost no parts were interchangeable with the Type 82. Type 82 Kübelwagens were captured by both US and Britain and tested.

The vehicle’s smooth, flat underbody—the Kübel ensured optimum functionality overterrains and in tracking. One of the popular variantswere Volkswagen Schwimmwagens, which as the name suggests was used to tread water. In water, a screw propeller could be lowered down from the rear deck engine cover. A simple coupling provided drive straight from an extension of the engine’s crankshaft, and when reversing, standard equipment paddle was used or the land drive was run in reverse to put into play wheel-rotation. Schwimmwagen’s front wheels doubled up as rudders, and the steering wheel was used to steer on land, and water. 15,584 Type 166 Schwimmwagen cars were produced from 1941 through 1944 with only 163 in the Schwimmwagen Registry today, of which only 13 have survived without restoration.

Photo Gallery (21 images)
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