Whatever may be the future development of this type of car in Germany, without doubt the Hitler government will be responsible for its popularization.

W.H. Millgate in The Detroit News (April 1933)

In the summer of 1932, director Wilhelm Gutbrod of the Standard Fahrzeugfabrik in Ludwigsburg made contact with Josef Ganz to discuss the development of a small Volkswagen based on his 1931 Maikäfer prototype and various patents. An agreement was reached and a prototype was constructed and tested in the fall of 1932.

Like the Maikäfer, the Standard prototype featured a central tubular chassis with a mid-mounted engine and independent wheel suspension with swinging rear half-axles. As described in one of Ganz’s patents, the two-cylinder two-stroke engine was mounted horizontally, in front of the swinging rear half-axles, on side of the tubular chassis with the gearbox on the other side.

Chassis of the Standard Superior

Chassis of the Standard Superior

In February 1933, the Standard Fahrzeugfabrik introduced the pre-production model of the new Standard Superior at the Berlin motor show. The revolutionary chassis was fitted with a simple Beetle-shaped bodywork, constructed from wood and finished in artificial leather. While the chassis construction, based on the many patents of Josef Ganz, was praised for its revolutiory design, the bodywork was critized for being a little unpractical. Standard reacted to the criticism and developed an improved body for the production model.

The production model of the Standard Superior, 1933.

The production model of the Standard Superior, 1933.

In September 1933, the Standard Fahrzeugfabrik introduced an updated model with a longer wheelbase, different bodywork with an extra side window on either side, and a larger children’s seat in the rear. It was advertised as ‘the cheapest and fastest German Volkswagen’. After Hitler had committed himself to the Volkswagen project in mid-1934, Standard and all other car builders were forbidden to use the name Volkswagen in their advertising.

Brochure of the Standard Superior, advertising it as 'The fastest and cheapest German Volkswagen', 1933

Brochure of the Standard Superior, advertising it as ‘The fastest and cheapest German Volkswagen’, 1933

The Standard Superior was manufactured from 1933 to 1935. It is estimated that around 500 cars of the 1st generation and 1,000 to 1,500 cars of the 2nd generation were built.

As far as it is known today, two chassis and two complete cars of the 2nd generation Standard Superior still exist. One restored car is owned by a private German collector, while an original, unrestored car is on display at the Oldtimer Museum in Cunewalde, Germany.