1937 German Kfz 2 Einheits-Pkw 20B 1/2 ton small 4x4x4 Funkkrafwagen prototype
1941 Type 877 extremely rare 4wd Beetle off-road Sedan Kommandeurwagen
1942 WWII Porsche TYP 166 Schwimmwagen prototype
1943 WWII Ford GPW Jeep
1943 WWII VW82e KdF Special cross country staff car

1943 WWII VW 82 Kdf Afrikakorps Kubelwagen

War time small 4X4 history


Story by Victor Ma T-L    26/2/01


Not too many people knew that German Army at 1935 got a Standardized  Wehermacht design (Einheits-Pkw.)or(Leicher Einheits-Pkw / LEPkw) Produced worlds first small 4wd of road vehicle with 4wsteering, between 1936-1940 Stoewer, Hanomag and BMW and Mercedes  build 8400 unit of Kfz1 R180,R200,B20,325(4 seat).Kfz2 R180,R200,B20,325(3 seat Radio, Maint, Repair),Kfz3 R180,R200,B20,325(light surveying car)and G5 all full time 4wd, with parts time 4 wheel steering, 4 wheel independent double A arm suspension,3 selflocking diff,5 speed gear box. You may not believe your eyes, because it is more good than Today's 4x4and SUV, but this is true and because it is too expensive and use too many metal to build a such small 4x4 off roader at war time, the Army try to build another VW82 light weight low cost off roader at 1940.Between 1940-43 Stoewer still build another 4700 unit of Kfz R200 type 40 ( similar version except some small parts and without 4 wheel steering model ),Today only a few early Kfz Pkw and G5 4x4x4 model have survived.


Kfz2 R180,R200,B20,325

Kfz3 R180,R200,B20,325


Hitler believed Ferdinand Porsche (yes, the grand father of the 911 sport car) was the right man to develop such a vehicle. The beetle was born. The first beetle had an air-cooled 985cc rear engine, rear wheel drive and four wheel independent suspension. This was the only car at that time fitted with independent suspension and could travel cross-country at high speed.

Early Porsche Type Beetle

VW 82 Kuebelwagen

Porsche spent 9 months to develop a super-
lightweight 2WD buggy called the Kuebelwagen.
Because it was a two-wheel drive, the Kuebelwagen
weighed 668 kg only. Porsche also lifted its
suspension by another gear under the rear drive
shaft (rear portal axle) to give it an additional
about 4 inches of ground clearance. It's gear ratio
was also slightly lower than that in standard box.

An LSD (limited slip differential) was also fitted to the rear axle. This was
very unique at that time. The LSD gave the Kuebelwagen a good off-road 
power, making it the only 2WD car that could run
in the African desert. 55,000 vehicles were built
during the WWII. In 1940, the first amphibious
Kuebelwagen was born. Having realized that the
army needed a reliable and go-everywhere small
jeep, Porsche installed a 4WD system and the body
of a boat to the vehicle and called it the swimming
wagon type 166.

VW82e Staff/Command Car

This vehicle was not only a four wheel drive, fitted with front and rear LSD,
rear portal axle, it was also a boat! It was powered by an air-cooled 1130c.c.
engine, with a part time 4WD gearbox on the land, and a rear three-bladed
 Porsche Type VW128 Schwimmwagen propeller at the rear of the vehicle. It weighed 900 kg
only, could top a land speed of 80km/h and water
speed of 10km/h. In 1942, the first type 166 was
tested by Porsche's engineers. They believed 166
was better than 128 because it was lighter, smaller,
and has a shorter wheelbase by 400mm. This became
a superb small off road vehicle that could go anywhere on earth. Only
14,000 vehicles were made. Today, only 130 to 150 remain in the world in
running condition. Most of them are at collectors' hand or in museums.
I believe there are only 2 VW 166 Schwimmwagen  in Asia, one in Japan and one in my garage with chassis No 166/115 this is the one of 125 Prototype version been made by Porsche. We also got a very rare early 1937 Hanomag  Kfz 2 Pkw R180, 4wds light off roader, it may be the only one in Asia and another 2 rareVW82e staff/command off road saden and one VW82 Kubelwagen. here
you can see more about some WWII collection we got www.tankmodel.com
On the other hand, Porsche used the
Kuebelwagen chassis from the VW 128, fitted
with a front axle and the body of Beetle to
to convert it into the 4WD Beetle Type 87.
By the end of WWII, 562 type Kdf VW 87 Beetles were
made. Two more were made after the war; one
was used by French army and vanished
unfortunately. The other is now kept in

VW 87 Kdf Staff/Commander car

the VW factory museum in Wolfsburg. In the same time 546 unit of VW82e been made, it is also use Bettle Kdf VW60 body put on the Kubel chassis. Most of the VW off road vehicle/jeeps were destroyed
by the end of the war. For this reason, they are much rarer and valuable
than their US jeep counterparts today.

Willys MB/Ford GPW Jeep
Jeep has been a very new name at the beginning
of WWII. Today, everybody knows it is a small
and useful all wheel drive car that can go anywhere.
Ford called this vehicle a General Purpose vehicle
and from these 2 initials (GP) the name "Jeep"
derived. In the U.S.A., Ford built 300,000 jeeps,
Willys-overland built 300,000 from 1941 to 1945
(British Empire MB x 104, 430 and GPA x 852;

Canada MB x 8200 and GPA x 22; China MB x 6,944 and GPA x 40;
France MB x 9,736 and GPA x 24; USRR MB x 49,250 and GPA x 3,520;
South America MB x 2,977 and GPA x 22; Others and FEA countries
MB x 1,060, GPA x 6). Here are the characteristics of Jeep: open body
with 4 seats, 1,120 kg, 2,199cc water-cooled engine, 61 BHP, 3 speed X 2,

part time 4WD and a maximum speed of 100km/h.
There were variations from this basic prototype:
Jeep Trailer and Gun Tractor, Jeep Commando,
Jeep Airborne, Fast Attack Vehicle (that can
carry cal 50 M2HB, cal 30 machine gun), Radio
Jeep, 105 mm Recoilless, Rifle Jeep Rocket
Carrier, and Ambulance.
All VW 82,82e, 87,166, Kfz 2 Jeep MB/GPW been use at North Africa and across Europe,it was the very reliable and useful small cross country vehicle. Every Country army want build their new light off road vehicle at that time.
In the same time,Japanese army,Soviet army and Chinese army mainly  use a lof of horse
and house power wagon, not the truck.

VW166 in German Museum

After WWII, the Jeep became the standard military small car. It was
replicated in the UK in 1947 with a first prototype of the Land Rover. This
was in fact a much-modified Willys Jeep with a Rover drive train and center
steering. 54' Austin also made a champ. The French Army also built a M201
under license from Willys. The Soviets built the GAZ-67. In 1953, the
reconstructed Mitsubishi concern obtained a license from Willys to produce
the Jeep in Japan for both civil LHD CJ3B-J3 and military use. In 1951,

Today the Humvee copy Toyota Mega Cruiser Used the portal axle like VW166. 4 wheel indenpendent suspension  4 wheel steering and diff locks like  German 1936 Kfz Pkw R180/B20/325 and Mercedes G5
Toyota also built the BJ, a Jeep look-alike model.
In 1948, Nissan made the Patrol, a Jeep patrol look-
alike. India manufactured its own Jeep under license
from Willys and called it the Mahindra CJ-3A. East
Germany also built the PZM from 1955 onwards. West
Germany started to build the Auto-Union Mungab in
1954. After WWII, the US army tried to develop a more
reliable small Jeep, the M38 waterproof model. By
mid-1941, after German building swimming wagon,
the US army wanted to make its own amphibious. For testing purposes, Ford
employed the GPW parts (6 or 7 boat bodies). Between 1942 and 1943,
a total of 12,774 were made. Ford called it the GPA or the Sea-going Jeep. Up
to this day MVCC members have preserved
many of them all over the world. The VW Jeep and Kfz Pkw B20/R180/R200/325
is extremely rare since only 82,664 were
manufactured compare with 613,000 Jeeps.
Among these, only 28,100 were 4WD. Jeeps
are very good for military collectors as they are
still very easy to find and easy to repair. The
US Army Information and Research Bureau
reported in 1971 that the German VW166 was a

L.S.D. used in WWII VW Jeep

6x6 Swimming Truck
better amphibious for military purposes than the GPA
particularly in terms of running ability, weight, overall
length and engine reliability. However, in water, GPA
was not bad in performance. Volkswagen 87 use
all wheel independent suspension with (motorcycle
type) oscillating levers enabling high speed off road, a
higher ground clearance and front and rear LSD. Its engine
is small and it weighs 21% less that the MB/GPW's 1,120 kg.
In addition, its air-cooled engine meant no overheating
in North African deserts or no freezing in Russian winters.
Fkz Pkw R180/R200/B20/325 and G5 will much better designed.
4 wheel double rocker A arm suspension like today's F1 Racing car,
Full time 4 wheel drive, with 3 self locking diff for rough cross country at deep mud.
parts time 4 wheel steering for off road at narrow road or even at Jungle.5 speed mangear box, at same time most 4x2car got 3 speed manual only. After 5 year, US Build the Willys/Ford GPW/MB got part time 4wd system,4 wheel leaf spring suspension and a 3 speed gear box, like a mini truck design.
The rear mount engine VW82 and 82e got much better performance at Sahari than the US 4x4 Jeep.


            GPA vs. VW 166            
Due to its larger than standard Jeep body, the GPA weighs a heavy 1,664
kg. The GPA therefore requires a (capstan) winch to exit the water.
In comparison, the VW 166 is very small and has a very short wheelbase
(400 mm shorter than a Beetle), and it weighs 890 kg only with front
and rear LSD. The independent oscillating levers suspension rear axle portal
gear gives the VW 166 more ground clearance and the ability to run at high
speed off road. These two amphibious vehicles are able to carry four crews
and a machine gun. In the water as well as on land, the VW 166 uses the front
wheels to steer itself. Standard VW 166 requires two men to operate because
the rear propeller is lowered and raised manually from the rear using a rod.
The earlier VW 128 & VW166 prototypes, like mine, have fitted with a level
inside the car by Ferdinand Porsche.

US Ford GPA see going jeep
The GPA uses (PTO) to drive the rear propeller
and, similarly to a boat, the rear rudder for steering.
Its water-cooled engine will overheat if the car is
used in the sea for long time. Rudder for steering is
very good but is not suitable for off-road since rudder
and propeller can be easily broken.
After WWII, amphibious vehicles were still very useful. The army, forest
rangers and fire departments use many GPAs & VW166 for their everyday work.
Luckily many MVCC members have paid a lot attention to rebuild these GPAs and  
VW166. Today, there are many GPAs in the world
in "as new" condition at a very high price. The
VW 166 was not so lucky as there are only 130 remain
in good condition. Some people believe there are
probably less than 180 still remain. However, I think some are
badly rust, or been modified by wide front and rear
axles, or become rear wheel drive only. There are not
infrequent GPAs for sale in the advertisements of
MVCC magazines. The VW 166 is much more
difficult to find. (most of War time German Vehicle like Kdf VW82e,also not easy to see at public market. The Kfz Pkw or Kdf VW87 haven't see at market for many years.) Once appear, even the price is very expensive, they are immediately sold.

Porsche made VW166

After WWII, an Australian engineer Bencarlin and his wife used a GPA in
a hard top and a boat front successfully traveled across the Atlantic Ocean,
the Sahara Desert Europe and U.S.A., etc. It covered 62,770 km on land and
17,780 km in the sea! Today the Jeep called Half Safe is still in Australia.
"Seep", the sea going Jeep can go anywhere in the world!
If you have any War time rare German Vehicle or just some rust parts, just e mail us.
Many WWII German Historic Vehicles Collector need your help, We also will pay you cash, or if you got some incomplete War time vehicle need help, just e mail us at
wwiivehicle@yahoo.com or tankmodel@126.com  any Kdf vehicle, such as 128,VW66,VW82e, VW87,Type 60, Einheits-Personenkraftwagen (le.gl.E.Pkw) BMW 325,Stoewer R180,R200,Hanomag,G5,SG6/41,Auto Union/Horch 901,108,NSU HK101,SZ7 Goliath, Ford GPA and some Tiger I, Tiger II, Panther, etc accessories.



Model VW 166 GPA TYPE 82 TYPE 87 GPW / MB TYPE 82e Kfz Pkw
Length 3.825m 4.623m 3.74m 3.85m 3.36m 3.85m 3.9m
Height 1.48m 1.626m 1.6m 1.54m 1.58m 1.50m 1.69m
Width 1.615m 1.753m 1.65m 1.63m 1.77m 1.655m 1.9m
Wheel base 2.0m 2.134m 2.4m 2.4m 2.03m 2.4m 2.4m
Track 1.220/1.230m 1.257m 1.356/1.360m 1.356/1.360m 1.24m 1356/1360m 1.4m
Ground clearances 0.24m 0.225m 0.275m 0.255m 0.22m 0.275m 0.235m-0.240m
Turning circle 9m 11m 10m 10m 11m 10m 3.25m
Weight 890kg 1,664kg 668kg 745kg 1,120kg 755kg 1690-1775kg
Max speed 80km/h
On water 10km/h On road 96km/h
On water 9km/h On road 80km/h
80km/h 100km/h 80km/h 75-85km/h
Range 520km 403km 440km 420km --- 440km 370km
Capacity 1,130cc 2,199cc 985cc/1130 1,130cc 2,199cc 1130cc 1757cc-1997cc
hp/kw 25/18.4 60hp 23.5/17.3/25/18.4 25/18.4 60hp 23.5/25hp 42.5/50hp
Tire 5.25-16&200-16 6.0-16 5.25-16 5.25-16 6.0-16 5.25R16 5.5R18-6.00R18
Transfer 4WD +2 LSD 4WD 2WD +LSD 4WD +2 LSD 4WD
with 2 LSD
Full time 4wd with 3 LSD
No. been made 14,000 13,000 52,000 564+2 (2 made after the War) 600,000 546 8400+4700(front wheel steering model

after  WWII privately owned Wehrmacht Volkswagens at Europe history

Story by Victor Ma T-L

Minority Wehrmacht Volkswagens survived in Europe after WWII. All VW82, 82e, VW166 were almost been in service with the occupying armies until 1948. These vehicles were used by Fire Department, Forest Control etc. until the mid 1950s. Due to the creation of many new "modern" Tempo/Land Rover series I, Delahaye VLR-D Mod.51,Hotchkiss/willys M201,Alfa Romeo AR51,Willys M38/M38A1,Gaz-69A,Gaz-M-72,Rover MKI ,Austin Champ, they had replaced VW82, VW166, ,VW82e and VW87. The old VW Kubelwagen VW82 and Schwimmwagen VW166 were later on snapped up onto private owners hands in auctions. The pervious Wehrmacht Volkswagen is reliable, easy mantainance, less fuel consumption with powerful 1st gear, off road performance, convertible. The vehicle became so popular across West Europe due to its affordable price. These West European countries including, Germany,Itlay,France,Greece,Norway,Netherlands,Belgium at (Nato Country).
Used VW82 and VW166 can still be used as parts repair for the "new" Beetle. However, the vehicle would low down approximately 40mm because new civilian beetles from axle and gearbox have different design. Majority of Wehrmacht VW were used as camping car, used by farmers and industry. Alternatively, some people will purchase Schwimmwagen in rough condition from scrap junkyard and take the front drive shaft, front axle and 4 wheel drive gear box away, to put into their Kubelwagen or VW82e.
These vehicles were used for expeditions in Africa and many others in the mid 50s. Often, some owner would re-furmised the chrome bumper or even modified the body to a hard top or make a new door for VW166. This type of modification make the car more friendly user. Cutting, welding job can always seen on an used Swchwimmwagen and Kubelwagen or even a pick up body on VW82e.Many people do not want drive a Hitler's vehicle,like VW82 kubelwagen,vw166 schwimmwageb,VW82e Staff car but they knew that type of off road vehicle has a very good off road performance,very reliable, with good drivetrain, Rebody job is very popular,they like to buy a new body to convert on VW off road chassis.Today you still can see a little of them use War time Kdf off road chassis,engine vehicle.The used Wehrmacht Volkswagen in East European countries such as Hungary,Bulgaria,Romania,Poland,Yugoslavia,Czechoslovakia and Russia.

The Wehrmacht Volkswagen at East Europe were very long lasting because of the poor economic and there were not new cars to replace them. Most of the VW82, VW82e,VW166  had been used until 1990. Without parts to repair such car can still been used for half century. Any types of parts can be used on these vehicles for repair.  It is imaginable that those vehicles are incomplete and not in their original condition. The lack of material after the war had became an issue on the supplement of parts, which not only tires but also bearing, suspension, brake parts and motor oil. Nowadays, it is unbelievable that   at the time even the simplest bolt, nut or a brake cable repairing materials was absent. The lack of material issue is even worst in East Europe, many Kubelwagen were often turned into "limousines" through remarkable rebuilding a new hard top and a full metal door, front door with Vent for summer use. Those historic vehicles can still been seen for daily use until early 90s. All those Kubel in East Europe had a tough time, most of them sold to West Europe in mid 90s. Handmade soft top, no more spare tire at hood,non off road front axle, non off road gear box been used, home made hard top, home made metal door,15 inch wheel tire,truck type head lamp and home made floor been used. It is predictable that there is not many well preserved and well-kept used Kubelwagen in East Europe.               

Wehrmacht VW in Russia had the worst destiny, only minority were kept in Military Museum, the rest been melted due to the lack of metal to become new Soviet GAZ-46,GAZ-69A or Gaz-63A truck,ZIL-151 2.5 ton 6x6 truck. Cars which made between 1930s-1940s disappeared on the streets in early 60s. After two decades of service, most of them were scrapped in West Europe due to body rust, axle broken, gear box not working properly, motor no more power, clutch slipped. After several thousand thousand kilometers of servicing who would willing to overhaul? It will cost about the same price or equal to a new beetle at late 60s. A small group of enthusiasts had taken an interest on the Schwimmwagen and Kubelwagen,they purchase 2 or 3 VW166/82 to rebuild it by themself, use 2 or 3 gear box to make one working gear box. They use 50s-60s VW engine and repair body and paint back War time German Grey or Sand colour. However most elderly do not like such old mouse grey as they still remenber War time the Volkswagen service by Hitler's Nazi Waffen-SS.Some museum try to buy some of renewed VW166 and VW82 from the market to put them at the back corner. During the 80s, lot of rebuilded VW 82,166 used by the young people for fun and vintage military collection club event.Until 1990s after the opening of the Eastern Bloc, they need cash to buy a new modern small car,many bad condition used Wehrmacht Volkswagens been offered for sale at the market again for some military vehicle lover/collector to restore.
I recall a nice Kubel price just a little higher than a nice willys MB/GPW jeep in 1987.Nowadays a nice Kubel is about 2.5-3 times expensive than a MB Jeep as war time German vehicle are rarer than a Jeep.


The War time cross country beetle /Kubel got more "modern technology" than a jeep, and only very little number survived.
About War time off road beetle only very few of type 877 (4 wheel drive beetle) and very small number 82e (4x2 off road beetle) that can be seen today in original condition, one of them is in Germany Wolfsburg VW factory auto museum is not original, this car is one of the two build by British Army after war. Another one at Austria Porsche hometown Gmund auto museum is a nice 1943 made VW877. The earliest one 1941 prototype was sold by a War time VW collector Mr Maik at German to Hong Kong China ,now becomes part of my collections.
Many of those War time off road beetle have a newer VW body (1946-1952) on the Kubel chassis,or only a Kubel axle and gear box on a 46-52 Beetle or even some use early bus axle on a early civilian Beetle,or use Schwimmwagen axle to put at early civilian beetle.
In 2000, the restored Wehrmacht schwimmwagen and Kubelwagen price increase a lot.Most owners are elderly therefore they would be willing to sell their collection at a fair price (market price). I am lucky to become the owner of 1942 Typ 166 prototype form Mr Jarren in Germany, he was 78 years old. Today nearly all VW 166 had changed to a young owner. The value in the past 12 years increased approximate 300-400% in a unpredictable speed. One of a VW166 in its good original condition current price is up to 200000USD. Due to its value, those were buried underground is now seeing the light again (mainly in East Europe). In 2000, only about 100 good conditions VW166 exist in the world however 12 years later, 50 units more were found. Brand new VW82 and VW166 body can be purchased in East Europe however since they are not original make therefore this is devaluing its price. In addition, more replica been found in the market, those replica are formed by VW166 body or VW82 body 70s beetle axle, gear box and engine to aimed at those who could not afford an authentic one.