Can you imagine a 24-hp car that could reach a top speed of 140 km/h (87mph)? If you think such a performance is hard to achieve now, imagine what it was like in the 1940s. Because the car we’re talking about was developed toward the end of World War II by a German engineer by the name of Kurt Volkhart.
In the early 1940s he started work on streamlined versions of VW’s Typ-60 Beetle, as he wanted to explore Baron von König-Fachsenfeld’s aerodynamics studies. This is how the “V2 Sagitta” project was born.
Volkhart mated a Beetle chassis and powertrain to a streamlined lightweight aluminum body that was so slippery it allowed the car to reach a top speed of 140 km/h (87mph). That’s an impressive achievement considering the car was powered by the same 24-hp 1.1-liter boxer engine from the original Beetle.
Because of the war, only one example of the V2 Sagitta was built in 1947. For a while, Volkswagen thought the car had disappeared, but recently found it in Austria and brought it over to Wolfsburg in January 2013 to test it in its wind tunnel. VW wanted to see how the V2 Sagitta stands up to today’s cars. The results were amazing. It turns out that the V2 Sagitta has a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.217 corresponding to a frontal area of 2.10 square meters.
This means the car is two times more aerodynamic than the VW Beetle it was based on, which had a Cd of 0,46 and a frontal area of 1.80 square meters. While that is not surprising, it’s only when comparing the V2 Sagitta’s results with those of modern cars that we get a true sense of Volkhart’s work.
The 1947 car is more aerodynamic than Volkswagen’s Golf Mk7, which has a drag coefficient of 0.27 and a frontal area of 2.19 square meters. Not only that, but it also beats the most aerodynamic production car of the moment, the Mercedes-Benz CLA, which has a Cd of 0.22!
Volkhart’s car also stands up really well against its modern-day equivalent - the Volkswagen XL1. At 0.189 and a frontal area of 1.50, the XL1 beats the V2 Sagitta, but not by an overwhelming margin.
By Dan Mihalascu