Rapid Swiss Volkswagen (1946) at the Louwman Museum in The Hague (Holland)
This charming two-seater with its single-cylinder engine is a Swiss Volkswagen (people's car). The story of its designer however, is more interesting than that of the car itself. German engineer Josef Ganz had advocated ideas about a car for the people since the 1920s. When working for Adler, he presented a prototype, nicknamed the "Maikäfer" (May beetle), a vehicle with a backbone chassis and swing arm suspension. Shortly after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Ganz, who was of Jewish descent, was banned from working. When Hitler ordered Ferdinand Porsche to design a people's car ('Volkswagen' in German), he was in fact using Ganz's ideas; backbone chassis and swing arm suspension would later feature on the Volkswagen Beetle. Josef Ganz escaped the Nazi regime in 1934 and settled in Switzerland. At the end of the 1930s he built prototypes of a Swiss people's car in which he incorporated many of his own, patented, technical designs. Pro-German, corrupt officials stole the project and continued the work under the name of Rapid AG. Josef Ganz conducted lengthy court cases but to no avail. He died in Australia in 1967, practically forgotten. This unrestored car is number 11 out of about 35 cars manufactured.
The Louwman Museum in The Hague, the Netherlands, features one of the most impressive private car collections in the world. Several hundred cars are on show to teach you all about car history. The Louwman Museum offers a wide collection that includes everything from antique and classic cars to Formula 1 racing cars and hybrids. Since 1934, two generations of the Louwman family have assembled a unique collection of cars. The present Louwman Museum was designed to display the collection to the public. It was festively opened in 2010. The collection leads you from horse and wagon to the first self-propelled vehicles. It also takes you past the luxury cars from the end of the 19th century, post-war "affordable cars" and the first racing cars. Some of the Louwman Museum's highlights include unique specimens such as the boat-car, the beach-car and the swan-car as well as famous cars such as James Bond's Aston Martin from the film Goldfinger and the customised Cadillac Fleetwood of Elvis Presley.