“(The book) is a social and cultural history but it’s written as a story,” she said. “It’s the story of the original Volkswagen Beetle and how it came to life and what it actually meant.”
Hiott, a 2004 graduate of University of Georgia, wrote her thesis on German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel and also studied literature in college. She moved to Germany after graduation to study and co-founded a magazine there. She worked seven years as an editor.
“I was always interested in different cultures,” she said. Although she didn’t know much about cars, Hiott said the story chose her.
While in Germany, she received an artist residency outside of Berlin. She happened upon the city of Wolfsburg which was established by the Nazi party to manufacture the VW Beetle.
“I had no idea Hitler had anything to do with (the Beetle). It just sparked my interest. I couldn’t leave it alone,” she said. “I kept researching it. The story got more and more interesting.”
Ferdinand Porsche designed the Beetle, the first manufactured in 1938 during Adolf Hitler’s reign. Her book tells the story of the Beetle symbolizing Hitler’s Germany and transforming to other movements such as the Summer of Love.
Known as the “People’s Car,” the VW Beetle was the first car to motorize Germany. Hiott said, “Very few people had a car (in Germany) before (the Beetle) came along. Henry Ford’s Model T for the United States is what (the Beetle) was for Germany.”
Through the years, the VW Beetle has seen few design changes, an important reason it is so loved or easily recognized by generations according to Hiott. She said, “It’s kind of mysterious but there’s something about that design, just the way it looks and the way it feels when you get inside of it. You almost feel like you’re a part of it because it sits around you. It takes on a kind of personality.”
Hiott said she’s thankful she discovered the story of the Beetle.
“I was just fascinated by it. It’s a great story. It’s a great little car. It’s hard not to fall in love with it,” she said. Hiott’s book, reviewed in newspapers and magazines such as BusinessWeek, the Huffington Post, and the Wall Street Journal is sold at most bookstores.