LeMay Museum > Motor Mouth Blog > 1962 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Think of… — Volkswagen Ghia

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Volkswagen Ghia

May. 10, 2011 at 1:37pm Volkswagen Karmann Ghia: of it as a Timex movement inside a case

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This isn’t an 1960’s vintage Volkswagen ad but it easily could be. All the correct are present. We have the minimalist of the car, shot against a white background, sitting a humorously self-deprecating cutline, set in type.

Then, there is a few paragraphs of body copy a further riff on the ‘joke’- in a breezy style, never too or overblown.


Here, you will no references to golf, yacht or how gorgeous women adorned in will suddenly find you as you cruise by in your “Ponti-Oldsmo-Imperi-adillac.”

most acts of genius, the for these paradigm shattering ads is simple… show the product silly embellishment, tell the and, while you’re at it, a little fun at yourself.

It’s to understand why no one other than ad agency had thought of the marketing replicated in our mock print ad. all, “common practice” is a ten-ton ball of granite down hill. It tends to to go in a straight line and squish that gets in the way… fresh ideas.

Creative advertising aside, the behind the “KG” wasn’t as groundbreaking as the ad campaign. The idea of a production chassis in custom is almost as old as the automobile itself. The subject of “AutoBiography,” our 1930 Model J is a perfect example of the What distinguishes the Karmann is the plebian pedigree of the donor — the lowly Beetle the ubiquitous VW “Bug.”

My own association the Karmann Ghia goes to my high school days in County. The car was a kind of ‘chariot of the Hordes of pastel hued infested Southern California. of them were drop-tops. It was the car for the mythical “California girl”- Germanic mechanicals draped in designer panache. And did I mention it was No need to worry that Peggy Sue was out drag racing after the big game. In fact, one ad showed the car adorned with stripes and the simple admonition… lose!” Truth in advertising if there was such a thing the 1956 Karmann Ghia a blister healing 0-60 of 32.4 seconds.

As the name suggests, the “Volkswagen Ghia” represents the combined of three distinct entities: and running gear by VW, body by German coachbuilder Karmann and by Italian design house Ghia. As with most efforts, the precise details of the inception are up for debate.

Some insist that the Ghia was simply a scaled down of American stylist Virgil 1953 Chrysler d’Elegance study. If you lop off the snout and concentrate on the and rear quarter panels, you can see Most writers on the subject the Exner angle and cite Ghia’s Mario Boano or “Gigi” Segre as the guiding behind the car.

Regardless of who penned the KG’s seductive it worked! Walter Dorwin an acknowledged authority on all things placed the Karmann Ghia on his of the world’s most beautifully products. One journalist’s revue February, 1957) enthused the car possessed a, “…purity of line and of proportion that almost one’s breath away.” executives were equally and the car was approved for production.

Type 14 #1 rolled off the assembly line in Germany in August 1955. It be the first minting of 485,983 KGs over a twenty-year period. 10,000 were sold in the year, exceeding even the optimistic projections.

The combination of the Beetle’s core (simplicity, quality, frugality), head turning looks and that spot-on ad campaign, irresistible and virtually guaranteed the success.

The greatness of the design was by how little it changed over its life span. Alterations incremental and evolutionary. In contrast to the American car’s ‘transformer-like’ year-to-year, the revisions made to the Ghia were subtle to the of near-invisibility: 1956 — hinges get multi position straps; 1959 — the wheel is dished; 1963 the semi-circularhorn ring is dropped; — sun visors swivel oh yeah, and the interior light is… Our little aqua blue ’62 KG smaller Ghia script and a badge was added to the rear lid.

Volkswagen Ghia

Obviously, there more impactful (I know, not a real word… yet!) chief among them displacement and output. The initial 40-HP — 1200cc did get a new carburetor and automatic electric in 1960. By 1965, it had grown to 1966 saw installation of the venerable power plant. Engine topped out in 1969 when a single-port engine was fitted. The unit was given dual-ports in With it, that initial recorded 0-60 time of seconds had dropped to a ‘blistering’18.5

Speed — or lack of it aside, the Karmann Ghia’s suit, in addition to its oh so continental was quality of assembly. For $2,395 price, hardtop — you could slip behind the of a custom, coach-built and largely automobile. The car’s seamless was hand-caressed for blemishes before submerged in a bath of zinc primer. Following wet sanding, the of four coats of paint applied (hand sanded The result was a flawless finish none of that faux landau roof/imitation wire hubcap nonsense that boomer-rebels despised.

In 1957, a version of the KG was introduced at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Extensive was incorporated to maintain chassis resulting in a slight weight U.S. deliveries of the convertible in 1958. The price for open-air was $2,725. By 1962, and due to pressure to output, Karmann instituted methods that lessened the for hands-on assembly. The move had one — the price of both of the car dropped, $100 for the coupe and for the convertible.

At the end of its twenty-year production a 1955 Karmann Ghia be parked next to a 1974 and, apart from of trim here and there, the two might well be mistaken for So then, what replaced the KG as halo, performance machine… the V-dub with an obscure derived from some of North African wind. or — the “Scirocco.”

Auto Trivia:

It was, as one famous tone-deaf bard put it, in the Wind” — the very itself… “The 60s” every anti-establishment, status quo minute of it.

The ads were the product of Dane Bernbach, an agency by Volkswagen in 1960. DDB’s was a formidable one. The Beetle as one agency staffer put it, “…an little Nazi car.” And WWII had ended a scant years prior — years fewer than our incursion into Iraq. The team realized standard would not work. They also among the first in industry to grasp how much culture was changing. Rather emulating the status quo, DDB did a The ads jettisoned the usual overblown and rhetoric and instead, went for the bone. Perfectly positioned for the market, it was a home run! In one TV spot ad, a Karmann Ghia is racing toward a huge, banner. Rather than through, football team the KG simply bounces off.

the campaign’s astounding success at sales and creating brand Advertising Age named it the greatest ad of all time. With headlines as “Live Below Your “Think Small” and “Lemon,” the ads turn the Beetle into an of cult worship. It became, with tie dye and love beads, a hip and fashion accessory — as as a socio-political statement. The entire VW benefited from DDB’s including the iconic Microbus and our Collection Karmann Ghia.

Here’s a really obscure bit of KG for you… rent the movie Producers,” not that cheesy the original starring Zero and Gene Wilder. Buried in hilarious Mel Brooks masterpiece is a to the Karmann Ghia that make you blow soda pop your nose… provided of you have a nose and a penchant for bent humor.

Volkswagen Ghia
Volkswagen Ghia
Volkswagen Ghia
Volkswagen Ghia

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