Wilhelm Karmann was a man of great ambition, much like Dr. Ferdinand Porsche
. His company, Karmann, began talks of a joint VW/Karmann project with Volkswagen in the early 1950's.
The idea was to produce a sporty vehicle based on the Beetle's mechanical underpinnings. Karmann turned to the Ghia styling studio in 1954 to design the body. The result was a gorgeous two-seat body in a coupe and cabriolet version.
Finally, in 1955, Herr Nordhoff agreed to produce this car and the result was the Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia. Many enthusiasts find it the epitome of its genre in cars, it being styled in Italy and engineered in Germany.
In fact the only real drawback to the drop dead gorgeous
looks of the Karmann-Ghia was the "Beetle" power
at the rear.
But over the years people have learn't to appreciate the
reliability and cost of repairs the little beetle motor
has provided. Besides, the stunning good looks of the
Karmann Ghia far outweigh any negativity.
Using a slightly wider beetle platform, such were the
good looks of the vehicle that it would sell for 19 years,
similar to another German convertible, the Mercedes 107
platform that started with the 350SL
Most noteable of the improvements made during the life
of the vehicle was the upgrading of the engine capacity
to 1500cc in 1961 by using the motor from the Type 3 VW
. The Karmann-Ghia was produced until 1974, with 361,401 coupes and 80,899 cabriolets were produced.
An unusual, poorly recieved version of the Karmann-Ghia, the Type 3 Karmann Ghia, or Type 34 Ghia, to which it is sometimes referred, was introduced in the 1962 and never made it out of that decade. It was based on the Type 3 Volkswagen as opposed to the original Karmann Ghia being based on the Type 1 (Beetle).
Though the factory produced 31 (2 are known to survive today) prototype convertible versions, the convertible's never made it to production. Unlike the Type 1 Ghia, a sunroof could be ordered for the cars.
From the back it looked very similar to a BMW 2002
, otherwise, the car somewhat resembled a Chevy Corvair
, the styling being more US oriented. For that reason, many find it an incredible mystery as to why Volkswagen didn't officially market the car in America. A little over 42,000 were manufactured, however less than 2,000 are believed to survive today. And just like the original Karmann-Ghia, they are very collectable.