At the end of World War II, much of Europe’s industry was devastated and there wasn’t a lot of money to spend on cars, or gas. While people loved the reliability of the Volkswagen Beetle, it was painfully slow even back then. VW engineers then developed an all-aluminum, uber-aerodynamic Beetle concept called the V2 Sagitta that could go nearly 90 mph using the same 24 horsepower engine.
The secret was in the all-aluminum construction and aerodynamic design, which gave the V2 Sagitta a drag coefficient of just 0.217, half that of the Volkswagen Beetle it was based on. Alright, so it is twice as slippery as another old car; so what?
As it turns out that 0.217 drag coefficient holds up well even compared to modern cars like the next-gen 2014 Volkswagen Golf (0.27) and even the new Mercedes CLA (0.22). Even compared to the purpose-built Volkswagen XL1, which can go up to 314 miles on a gallon of diesel thanks to a drag coefficient of 0.189, the V2 Sagitta holds up well.
Thanks to this slippery design that the lightweight bodywork, the 1.1 liter, 24 horsepower air-cooled engine cold send the V2 Sagitta to a top speed of 87 mph. As anyone who has ever driven an original Beetle can tell you, that’s a hell of a lot faster than such a car should be able to go. Maybe today’s automakers can learn a thing or two from this post-war concept.