Car Lust Volkswagen Karmann Ghia — Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

18 Июн 2015 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Car Lust Volkswagen Karmann Ghia — Volkswagen Karmann Ghia отключены
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Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

I saw a item the other day linking to a language article about coachbuilder Wilhelm Karmann which related a bit of shocking Der Cabrio-Spezialist meldet Insolvenz an! which once built for Audi, Ford, Mercedes, Renault and VW, fabricated convertible for those and many other assembled AMC Javelins for sale in and built its own line of Mobil has filed the German equivalent of a petition and is going out of business.

seems to make#0160;this an appropriate to spend a bit of Car Lust bandwidth on best-known product: the Volkswagen Ghia —or, as one writer cleverly described it, the Beetle in a Dress . That description is because beneath the Karmann attractively curvaceous styling is the and soul (and floorpan, transmission, suspension, and other mechanical parts) of a humble Type 1 Beetle .

The story the Karmann Ghia is a fascinating with a surprising (to me, anyway) to a member of our own Car Lust family.

contains many examples of manufacturers who stubbornly stuck an established design in defiance of ( e.g., Checker’s Marathon Ford’s Model T. AMC’s /Concord. Morgan’s entire line ). Perhaps the most of all was Heinz Heinrich Nordhoff. the chief executive of Volkswagen, and a man who much fit the archetype of the autocratic, ultracompetent German engineer .

Herr Nordhoff set a very policy for Volkswagen. It built the 1 (not officially called the until the 1970s) and the Type 2 (better known in the U.S. as the which was derived from the 1 and used many of the same parts—and that was it! The two designs given periodic improvements and but there were no annual and only a select few variations.

In the when Europe was just started with its postwar Herr Nordhof’s conservatism sense: there wasn’t of a market for anything beyond transportation, VW already had a very design that met that and it didn’t really have the to do a lot of new product development even if the had been so inclined. VW would get into trouble for being too to change, but all that was a couple of away.

Which is not to say that Nordhoff was totally uninterested in the VW product line. He was okay the idea of new VW products, just as as VW wasn’t called upon to a lot of its own money to develop them. In Karmann built a prototype 1 convertible (Cabriolet) on speculation, caught Herr Nordhoff’s and went into production out to Karmann, of course) later year.

In 1951, Karmann pitching the idea of a racy built on the Type 1 platform. VW was to the concept, but none of Karmann’s styling studies were

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Italian coachbuilder Carrozzeria SpA, like Karmann, was for work. The Italians had talented and craftsmen, but the market for custom for the European elite was not what it had before the war. As a way of drumming up Ghia built a spec the XX-500. by placing a dapper body on a Plymouth chassis, and it to Chrysler. Chrysler had just a new Director of Styling by the name of Exner—the father of Car Lust Virgil Exner Jr. —and soon had a decent line of crafting prototypes and limited-production cars from Mr. Exner’s Among these was a show car the D’Elegance. a coupe with curvaceous bodywork.

At this you might be thinking that a certain family resemblance the D’Elegance and the Karmann Ghia. be right about that, and good reason. Around the that Ghia began on the D’Elegance, it also began with Karmann on a new design for fancy coupe Karmann had to VW. While Ghia later to claim otherwise, it’s darned obvious just looking at the thing that cribbed off the D’Elegance in cooking up the VW

Our own Virgil Exner Jr. confirms

In 1955 I had turned 22 and was attending the und Bilden Akadamie in Wein Austria. When school was out in May a buddy of mine and I made our way to to visit Luigi Segre and Paul Farago, my father’s and my associate car builder, was there and he Luigi to roll out the first Ghia production prototype, as was developed from the D’Elegance.’ had an issue with Gigi as to the windshield header might be too low as to the roof look too heavy. both asked me. I said I thought so too, and that I raise it by an inch. ‘Done,’ Luigi, and it was, just production was announced.

Ghia had sent the second Ghia to be imported to this to Chrysler. The first had been to Max Hoffman in N.Y. I drove a few times in early 1956 and it. My father bought it from for me as a graduation present. After 6 months I traded it in to the local dealer for a brand new 1957 Beetle plus $600 I used to finish the full build of my Simca Special .

Nordhoff liked the design, but was concerned about production The compound curves of the front meant that they not be formed from a simple but would have to be built up several pieces welded by hand, as shown in the footage of production floor appearing in Portugese-language commercial:

It took Karmann 21 months to the engineering necessary to turn Exner-influenced prototype into a car could be built cheaply to be profitable at the desired price The first production models out of the shop in August of 1955. The (convertible) version appeared in 1957.


Thanks to its drop-…-gorgeous the Karmann Ghia was an immediate VW sold 10,000 in the first far in excess of its expectation. Make no the styling was what was selling the It didn’t have sports car and that was quite intentional. VW, and Porsche had a complicated symbiotic at the time, and no one at either Karmann or VW to mess that relationship up by out with a car that competed with the Porsche 356 .

The drivetrain was out of the mid-1950s Beetle—a 1200-cc, flat-4 motor and a four-speed the only suspension modification was the of a front sway bar. The bodywork weighed about 150 more than the Beetle’s, but the weight was partially offset by the Ghia’s smaller frontal and better aerodynamics. The 0-60 was a Beetlesque 30 seconds, but the top speed was higher than the contemporary at 72 mph. Still, it wasn’t the hottest car on the road, and VW never to pretend otherwise:

On the other the Karmann Ghia had Virgil-Exner-with-an-Italian-accent and the Beetle’s German-engineered reliability for it. It might not be able to quite up with the other sports but it would keep running those other little were sidelined by their mechanical gremlins—and look doing it!

The Karmann Ghia enjoyed a production run with few changes. A restyling of the front clip the headlights and enlarged the air vents. As a older Karmann Ghias are referred to as lowlights. There minor changes in tail and turn signals over the and the Karmann Ghia also got the of improvements in the Beetle’s engine and parts. The final ones, the last Beetles, had a 1584cc engine, giving them a bit pep than the early lowlights.

was also another Karmann the Type 34. which was built on the 3 (Fastback and Squareback ) platform. It was by Virgil Exner Jr. and had a much straight-lined and somewhat Corvairish The Type 34 was in production from to 1969, and was not officially exported to the though a few made it here.)

built a total of 362,601 and 80,881 convertibles before the run ended in 1974. A fair have survived. Rust is a with all Karmann-built vehicles that era—but even that, restoring or maintaining a Ghia is relatively easy as cars go. The mechanical parts are Beetle, and NOS or reproduction components are from a variety of sources. As most interesting cars, an active owner’s club and Internet forums where Ghia owners are willing to their knowledge.

Give me a drop-top in Paprika Red It wouldn’t be the fastest car by any means, but for a speed run through the gorge the old mill and the goldfish pond on a day, you could do a lot worse.

The red at the top of this article came Flickr user Felipe The photo of the D’Elegance came Peter Madle’s Stutz website. which includes of other rare cars by the Exners. The festive yellow came from Flickr Lucky Luc 512. who shot it at the Altenhundem in 2007. Flickr Thomas Tepe took the of a Karmann Ghia caravan at a Ghia owners’ club in Germany in 2005 .

—Cookie the Owner

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