But this week is the first time I've seen it in action in a meaningful way for a car. The car in question is the 1933 Standard Superior Type I, or, as most know it, the fore-runner to the Volkswagen Beetle, give or take a little later tinkering by Porsche...
Built by Josef Ganz, a Jewish engineer and editor of Motor-Kritik magazine, and presented to Adolf Hitler at the 1933 Berlin Motor Show, 250 were subsequently built between April and September that year. Surprise, surprise, when Hitler subsequently launched the VW Beetle to the German public five years later, no mention was made of the Jewish engineer who had built what was, in essence, the first meaningful prototype.
The current car is the only known surviving chassis. It survived as a running car in East Germany but the bodywork was mucked about with, and the chassis ended up with Trabant body panels. Now, two men are aiming to restore it to its original glory and present it to the Louwman Museum in The Hague next year: Paul Schilperoord, Dutch author of The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz, and Lorenz Schmid, a Swiss relative of Ganz.
The two men are working with restorers to recreate the original wooden bodywork of the car. The original specifications stated it should be low-slung, streamlined, with a backbone chassis, a rear-mounted engine, independent suspension with swing axles and a price not exceeding 1,000 Reichmarks.