Very true. Hilter never would have gotten anywhere if there weren't a lot of people willing to follow him. All they needed was someone willing to tell them what they wanted to hear. If that person was more competent than the Nazis, (which frankly wouldn't be hard), things could have gone far, far worse.
Seeing how much the aircraft industry has relied on government money, as much as I'd like to think otherwise, if left to their own devices they would have progressed even more slowly. Airliners were originally based on bombers, and postwar aviation relied on a network of airstrips originally built for the demands of the war. Maybe a world without WW2 would see flying boats remain viable a lot longer.
As for the VW, Porsche borrowed from others, such as Hans Ledwinka of Tatra, a company that had the misfortune of ending up on the wrong side of the iron curtain. If WW2 hadn't happened, and Czechoslovakia hadn't ended up in the Soviet sphere, who knows how big they could have gotten?
I think even without Sen. Ferguson's "help", I still think Tucker would have had a tough go of it. Would they be able to keep it looking fresh in a market where competitors were able to offer new designs every year? (IMO it was the annual model change that really killed off the independents after the war) How would the company handle Preston Tucker's death in 1956, and the "Eisenhower Recession" two years later?
I've often wondered about that too. It might have lasted a little longer if Studebaker hadn't dragged it down, but based what was happenning with the other independents, it was struggle to keep fresh looking product when the Big Three were able to crank out a restyle every year. Packard would have needed a sugar daddy to survive, and Ford, GM and Chrysler already had established luxury brands of their own. I tend to agree with the idea that the aborted merger with American Motors would have been the key to Packard's continued existence. Now, it may just have meant that they ended up folding thirty years later than they did, and the last ones were restyled Hornets instead of Studebakers, but then again, they might be just the thing to keep going a little longer, and in any case, some interesting things could happen along the way.
One of the plans that got shelved for lack of funds was a brand new V-12 good for some 400 hp. A merger with AMC just might have made that possible. If it was successful, it's not hard to imagine a response from the Big Three. Would the sixties see a cylinder race as well as a horsepower race? Would engineers try to squeeze one into a Rambler to produce their answer to the GTO? With upgrades and refinements, would the Packard 12 be the new hot mill for the racing set? Would we see V-12 Javelins and AMXs blowing the doors off 'Cudas and Chargers? With a proper luxury brand to sell it under, would the midengine AMX/3 be okayed for production, only this time with power by Packard?
Basically, it works out that making each one is indeed more expensive, but the setup costs are a lot cheaper, which is why it's attractive for making a relatively small number of cars. If you're going to make a lot of cars, then pressing metal is the way to go, but the down side is that you have to make a lot of them to justify the cost of all those presses. It's like the difference between injection moulded kits, and resin.
Simple, pressed steel involves pressing, so large presses, and dies that are able to withstand the pressure. In any case, whenever I've read a history of Corvettes, the rationale for going with fiberglass has always been that the tooling was less expensive, so I assumed they knew what they were talking about.
1961 SAE paper on Corvette construction that might be of interest.
That would have meant less money to put into things like independent rear suspension, and higher sales would have been needed to make it profitable, so Corvettes would have probably ended with a solid rear axle Stingray some time in the 1960's.