Talk:Volkswagen Kübelwagen

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Kübelwagen Etymology[edit]

For those who want to know: a standard German "Kübel" is a large bucket with smaller variants having different terms, or the other way round it is a smaller open vessel for liquids. The term is borrowed from southgerman languages usage where it was also used literally for all bucket types (standard German "Eimer"). They have borrowed it from latin "cupella" (drinking vessel) and its cousin "cupa" (mug) which contemporary English features as cup. The "bucket car" is about a direct translation while "tub car" is translating better what the original name does imply. Guidod 10:28, 17 March 2007 (UTC)


Please stop wikifying "Thing". If users want to add info about this vehicle, they can add it on this page. The title "Thing" is a very bad title for a car. I'm about to redirect "VW Thing" to this page. Hotlorp

Hi, the "Thing" is the US name of the VW 181 which is it successor and is a different car developed in the 60s (based on this i bit, but there is quite a difference. Anyway, they deserve a separate article if different versions of the Porsche 911 do. "VW thing" should not direct to this article. --Tom of north wales (talk) 19:13, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

1951 LIM111[edit]

The photo I added is (according to the road register) a 1951 Volkswagen LIM111. This type isnät mentioned in the article. Could somebody explain what is is? // Liftarn

Miltary reference instead of constructor type ? Ericd 17:32, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Light Infantry Motorsomething 111 ? Ericd 18:17, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Ok, it's also interesting since it was made in 1951. For how long was the Kübel produced? Also the article says "it did not perform as well off road", but according to the owners it made up for the lack of 4WD with less weight. // Liftarn
The Dune Buggies proved that a modified Beetle could work off road. Ericd 19:28, 2 October 2005 (UTC)
The Kübelwagen is no more more than a VW Beetle with a special bodywork. It's probable that VW produced some from time to time on special order from the German Army however I can't find any source. Ericd 08:21, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

My VW 82[edit]

Assigned in 56 at the "Dreux Air Force Base"under NATO Command, I've discovered and bought her from a peasant, around Argentan, 14, France, deeply buried under hay to steal away. I've restored and upgraded her in 59-60 with newer parts, hydraulic brakes for cable ones and telescopic hydraulic shock absorbers for friction ones, 1200 engine for 1000 one, 16" thinner wheels for 16" wider wheels from a scraped 56 VW combi. She is still running today around Danville-Richmond, QC, Canada. Her serial number is still 2028877. All original parts are well preserved. The 56 VW combi T1 had the same drivetrain than the one of VW 82, with swing axle and reduction gears at rear and lifted up upright at front.

In friendly off road competiion, in the 80s, she proved superiror to the military Kaiser Jeep M38 A1/A2 and civilian CJ 5/CJ7 with 4 people aboard who can lift her up and by her ZF self lock diff on sandy or muddy terrain. We gotta drive fast thru, by lack of 4X4 capabilities, as for the Baja Californian Dune Buggies.

The 4 doors can interchange in seconds as well as the engine compartment lid with the one of the luggage compatment, just behind the rear seats. A jerrycan has its location inside, by the pedals, between the front wheels and the gas tank is so high placed, over the passenger knees, that it needs almost no gas pump to feed the engine. Simplicity and rusticity were the motto.

Takima 20:04, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Küberlwagen vs. Jeep[edit]

Is the article really wanting us to believe that a 2WD RR 23HP is better than a 4WD F4 60 HP?????ç -- (talk) 20:55, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

Although these two vehicles are different in concept and execution, and the Kubelwagen, as a lighter one, was not able to tow a trailer, that feature made it possible for several soldiers to lift it out of mud or sand, something not possible with the Jeep. With its limited-slip differential, the 2WD Kubelwagen was quite able to negotiate difficult terrain ("Volkswagen for the Wehrmacht," ISBN 911160-43-4). Undoubtedly the absence of cooling water for the engine was beneficial at times also. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 08:49, 16 May 2011 (UTC).

I don't know his source, but Anthony Beevor claims in Stalingrad that the Germans preferred Lend-Lease Jeeps captured on the Eastern Front to the Kübelwagen. Does anyone knows if this is simply anecdotal?
Mojowiha (talk) 17:37, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

Analysis of a Kubelwagen by the U.S. Army[edit]

According to Karl Ludvigsen, in his book "Battle for the Beetle" (ISBN 0-8376-0071-5), pp. 173-179, a Kubelwagen captured in North Africa reached the U.S. Army's Aberdeen (Maryland) Proving Ground (no final "s") in mid-1942. Although the referenced "Volkswagen Military Vehicles of the Third Reich" shows this on page 63 with the caption Kubelwagen restoration ..., the actual purpose was the preparation of TM-E9-803, an extremely detailed analysis and operator's manual, plus maintenance and troubleshooting information for any U.S. military personnel who might encounter an abandoned one, so that it might be repaired if necessary and used for additional transportation. A link to this publication is included with the Wikipedia article on the Kubelwagen, but for those who earlier wanted an actual reprint of the original, in 1972 Post-Era Books of Arcadia, California reprinted it plus a few pages of introductory information with the title "Volkswagen for the Wehrmacht" (ISBN 911160-43-4).

In a related discussion, there is objection to the name "Thing;" however a civilian vehicle based on the Kubelwagen design was sold in the U.S. during 1973 and 1974 with that name. It had been built earlier in Germany, but these and later ones were assembled in Mexico of German-made parts ("Volkswagen History to Hobby", by Bob Cropsey). (talk) 08:30, 16 May 2011 (UTC)

"Bucket Seats" is not very likely[edit]

I'm from Germany, I know what a "Kübel" is, there is even the phrase "kübeln" (for vomiting into a bucket). I do not believe that the term "bucket seat" (as in "Recaro" these days) even existed in the 1940's (look at pictures of sport- and race-cars from the time), therefor this is probably not the root of the name.

But kübelsitzwagen was in fact used; it shows up in "Motor" and "Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung" in '36 and '38, and that's just from a very quick "google books" search, I'm reasonabl certain it was older. The thing is, the archetypical example was a Daimler-Benz 170 variant with honest-ta-God bucket seats, which appears to have generally been called by its full name. Aside from being an off-roader, this was about as different from the lowly K-wagen as you can get. Anmccaff (talk) 14:56, 20 June 2015 (UTC)

In addition there seems to be a translation error. There is no such word as "Kübelsitz" or "Eimersitz" or anything like that in German. What is referred to in English as "bucket seat" is called "Rennsitz" (race seat) or "Schalensitz" (frame seat) in German. It is highly unlikely VW or the Wehrmacht would have used an English expression to name a car.

Or to have truncated the name in this fashion; "küsitzwag" or something like that is more likely. Anmccaff (talk) 14:56, 20 June 2015 (UTC)

Also this car DID have doors (as clearly seen in the picture), so why use a bucket seat? Furthermore: going off road through heavy terrain at "military speed" - would someone really trust only his seat to keep him in the car?

People did, though; the myth of survival by being "thrown clear" was strong still in my jeep-ridden Army of the late 70s and 80s. Anmccaff (talk) 14:56, 20 June 2015 (UTC)

My personal guess is that the name comes from the very spartan interior (compared to the luxury cabriolet of the era) combined with the fact that it was an open car. So, one might call it a "bucket with four seats in it", which could explain the name (but I'm no expert).

Yup, "bucket on wheels" combined with the rail/industrial/agricultural use - a "kübelwagen" in those contexts was a large hopper filled with ore or coal or manure. Not your high-end human transportation.
When I was a' servin' of His Majesty the Reagan in the 1980s, I met an old landser (His self-description, although he'd been an officer. (This was before the term took on other implications in the 90s.)) who was friends of my boss's boss; he wound up working for the US after the war as some kind of spy, spook or other intelligence type. I asked him this question. After suitable pause to try to find a more polite equivalent, he said the contemporary meaning was closest to the English "shitbox."


Martin, Frankfurt/M., Germany — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:45, 20 June 2015 (UTC)

And to you Anmccaff (talk) 14:56, 20 June 2015 (UTC)

    • I agree. I'm no German-language expert, but the provided explanation seems unlikely to me. The "bucket-car", utilitarian explanation sounds much more plausible. We even have a German speaker to testify that the term 'Kubelsitz" was invented, probavbly by someone trying to come up with an explanation for why the thing was called a "Kubelwagen". Soldiers are soldiers, and we have the "jeep" and the "bucket wagon". Of course being Wikipedia, here it is 4 years later and nothing has been changed at all, and God knows how many thousands of people have come and read the article in the meantime and left to go tell all their friends this interesting new fact that they just learned about how the Kubelwagen was actually named that because it had bucket seats!

Idumea47b (talk) 09:07, 4 December 2018 (UTC)

The problems I have with this is that the references to the VW product as KSW are rare, while almost unversal to the others, and references to other products as KW are equally rare; the words are used in contrast to each other, and Kubelwagen is, itself, a real word...and not one that had a particularly positive connotation. Finally, as mentioned above, this is out of line with normal German abbreviations. Kusitzwag(en), like Gestapo, or Ku’damme? Sure. Kubelsitzer? Yep, even used.
Haven’t seen (this) Ludvigsen yet, not many copies this side if the pond. Qwirkle (talk) 04:15, 14 December 2018 (UTC)


  1. ^ Ludvigsen, Karl (2014). "Chapter 6: Mercedes Makes Military". Professor Porsche's Wars. Pen & Sword Military. pp. 78, 116. ISBN 978-1-52672-679-7.
  2. ^ Ludvigsen, Professor Porsche's Wars, p. 133.

Tone of the article[edit]

Could we perhaps re-write this whole thing so it doesn't come off sounding like it was written by the Kubelwagen FanKlub trying to convince everyone why the thing was really a marvelous machine, superior to the jeep, able to drive in all conditions without spinning a tire, will put 4x4 vehicles to shame, etc. How many jeeps do you suppose were lost in WWII due to bullets being put through the radiator? Not many, it was not a major concern. You weren't supposed to be driving them into combat, nor the Kubelwagen. It might have been a surprisingly good 2WD vehicle, but when it starts going on to tell us how it beat all the 4x4s in offroad situations, it starts getting dubious. The people who wrote this cherry picked all the best, most impressive-sounding facts and left out everything negative. It mentions that several organizations gave negative reviews. Why? Are they just jealous and not wanting to admit German equipment is superior? The KW is a great machine, but let's be realistic about it. It's very good for 2WD, but not quite a 4x4. The lightweight goes a long way to counteract the lack of a second drive axle, but at the cost of cargo and towing capacity. The swing axles caused the same problems that they have in every other vehicle that used them. So did the rear engine. The jeep's engine might concievabley stop a bullet from the front, if you were foolish or unlucky enough to get close enough to be shot at; the Kubelwagen has nothing but a fuel tank ahead of the occupants, and the engine is too low to protect you from enemy fire. That's just armchair-warrioring, someone read how liquid cooled aircraft were more vulnerable than air-cooled ones (which is important in combat aircraft) and decided the same must apply here. It doesn't. The air-cooled engines of Beetles were notorious for being absolutely worthless in any weather below 40deg F. How did the landsers feel about heaters that only produced slightly less cold air than the ambient stuff? Did they even HAVE heaters? (Did jeeps even have heaters? They could have, easily). The jeep is also hardly a heavyweight vehicle. People keep talking about how the KW is so much lighter, but the jeep can't weigh over 3,000 pounds, it's a tiny vehicle itself. Anyway, the point is, the article ought to be just stating the facts, pro and con, and instead, as is so usual with any article written about WWII, or military, equipment, it sounds like it was writtne by people who wanted to convince you of how great it is. The flip side is the article written by people who want to convice you of how terrible X plane or tank was, compared to Y tank or plane. Or the ones that are clearly written by several differnt people arguing amongst themselves like it was the Youtube comments section.

Idumea47b (talk) 09:24, 4 December 2018 (UTC)

Much of the reputation of the Kubelwagen stems from its early use in the Western Desert campaign. The British view was that a Kubelwagen was worth two Jeeps,(Ludvigsen, p. 143) and they were regularly acquired after capture. The Jeep wasn't. On the Eastern Front, its particular strengths were perhap of less use.
Also it's clearer to describe the Type 82 as having a self-locking diff, rather than limited slip. Simpler to make reliable in those days, although often deeply unpleasant for a high-speed road car. Andy Dingley (talk) 11:21, 4 December 2018 (UTC)

Deutsch: Kübelsitzwagen = English: Box-shaped (body) seating car ?[edit]

Discussing Kübelsitzwagen, I would like to suggest the word "Kübel" may have better English translation such as "cube" or "cubic", which simply refers to its box-shaped body, in contrast to the oval body of VW Beetle. "Sitz" refers to the "wagen" utility, meaning that it is a seating car (something likes sedan), not a truck car. Later in production, the "Kübelsitzwagen" was then shortened to "Kübelwagen". So, does it sound better to call the "Kübelsitzwagen" or "Kübelwagen" a "Box-shaped (body) seating car", instead of a "vomiting bucket-seats car" ?

A different view from Taiwan, James Young. 2019/1/4 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:04, 4 January 2019 (UTC)