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Volkswagen once made a 2-seat, carbon-tubbed, mid-engine, butterfly-door pint-sized supercar with only 68 hp. This is the amazing story behind the most efficient internal-combustion car ever made.

Volkswagen's chairman, Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, didn't believe in the impossible, and in 2002, he stated that VW would be the world's first automaker to produce a 1-liter car: that's a car that uses less than 1l/100km of fuel, or roughly 250 mpg.

The development process lasted more than 10 years, through four cars: the 1L prototype, the L1 prototype, the XL1 prototype, and finally the production XL1.

What looked like an impossibility in hitting the 1-liter mark was solved by swapping from the hybrid (1.38l/100 km) L1 to the plug-in-hybrid XL1, which received a final EU rating of just 0.9 l/100 km and 21g of CO2 per km.

Volkswagen committed to sell 200 of the XL1s to the public, which it did — at the astronomical price of €111,000.

By the time the 1-liter car went into production, Volkswagen's all-electric e-Golf was already in production — in theory rendering the XL1 obsolete.

But, like any parent throwing the "because I said so," Piëch said VW would make a 1-liter car, and it did.

And besides, in the process, Volkswagen created one of the coolest cars ever made.

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