Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Kübelwagen is an abbreviation from German Kübelsitzwagen which literally means "bucket seat car". It was a generic name for open-topped military utility cars fitted with bucket seats.
The word Kübelwagen is widely used in reference to the Volkswagen 82, a military version of the VW Beetle. The earlier prototypes had Porsche Type Number 62. Some numbers were built with 18 in road wheels but no reduction gears on the rear axle, a la Type 82.
In its first incarnation about 52,000 were made before and during WW2 for the German military in the same factory as the Beetle at KdF-Stadt (Wolfsburg). It performed the role of the jeep for the Germans, but since it was only rear wheel drive (as opposed to four wheel drive) it did not preform as well off road.
Ferdinand Porsche did develop a four-wheel-drive version of the Kübelwagen. There were a few Type 86, a 4WD version of the Type 62 prototype, but then this was abandoned in favour of the Type 87, a 4WD version of the production type 82 (1941). Again, only a handful were manufactured (probably six, in Stuttgart, not Wolfsburg), but this vehicle is, historically important: it was the first Porsche-built car to have a 1086 cc engine. This engine featured the standard VW crankshaft, but with 73.5 mm (2.9 in) cylinder bores, and was later used in the Porsche 356.
The entire 4WD Kübelwagen project was abandonned in favour of the Schwimmwagen, type 128/166.
In the 1970s a second version the VW 181 was made, based on the contemporary Beetle. The vehicle was marketed as the 'Thing in North America.
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