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Why do Volkswagen Beetles float?

The original Volkswagen Beetle actually floats. We find out why, and introduce proof of this amazing feat in action.

It's hardly an amphibious vehicle, but the original Beetle could indeed float

It's hardly an amphibious vehicle, but the original Beetle could indeed float

Why do Volkswagen Beetles float?

If you have you ever asked yourself “do Beetles float?”, the answer is yes: the original Volkswagen Beetle would indeed float on water. However, it is certainly not recommended that you experiment with this.

The original Volkswagen Beetle was essentially a unibody car built on a floor pan, with very few openings and well sealed doors. If the floor pan is intact and not rusted, the Volkswagen Beetle should float.

How long does a Beetle float for?

Several print and TV ads of the 1960s and 70s depicted the floating Beetle experiment in practice – one ad suggested that the Beetle floated for 42 minutes.

In the ad below, the Beetle is driven into the water and floats along for a few seconds on camera. We are told that, "although the Beetle does definitely float, it will not float indefinitely."

Proof that the Volkswagen Beetle floats

Another 60s print ad introduced us to Stanley Siegel, a journalist who decided to expose the myth around floating Volkswagen Beetles. He drove a Volkswagen Beetle into Beetle Creek in Wisconsin, expecting it to sink to the bottom, and it floated. The surprised journalist stated, "These things really do float!"

Print ad Volkswagen Beetle floating

Siegel achieved the unexpected – he provided proof that the Volkswagen Beetle floats.

So there you have it – the original Volkswagen Beetle does float… but please don't try this at home.

About the Author

Martin Keane

Staff writer at Arnold Clark

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