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Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupe

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Reviews

Review by Miller,

The Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia, a sporty and convertible produced between and 1974, was a most unexpected from a company that had its reputation on the purely functional Beetle. The Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia was an in which style and driving fun precedence.

Indeed, it seemed to little obvious marketing when the German company on the world the sinuously shaped Karmann-Ghia coupe in 1955. By however, when the last Karmann-Ghias were delivered to the 387,975 had been built, a number for a specialty car from an not known at the time for driving

Not that the Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia was in league. After all, Karmann-Ghia used the same as the Beetle, the same economy-car even had the same air-cooled-engine But the Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia had something no VW up to time had ever had:

The car#039;s name summarizes a complicated pedigree. VW in the early was a rapidly growing West carmaker. Karmann was a long-established German coachbuilder and already was Beetle convertibles. Ghia was a top styling house.

Added to alliance was an American connection one that some Europeans are to admit even today and the result was an unlikely recipe for

The Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia story with Mario Boano and Segre of Carrozzeria Ghia. The coachbuilders had done some work for VW, suggesting refinements in styling that VW mostly Neither did VW seem to like any of the Beetle proposals put forth in by Dr. Wilhelm Karmann. An increasingly Karmann approached Ghia for

Gian Paolo Boano, Boano#039;s son, had recently a Beetle in Paris and driven it to The Ghia craftsmen removed the two-door Beetle body, and five months had replaced it a newly fashioned coupe shell.

The prototype was transported to factory in Osnabruck where, on 16, 1953, it was examined by VW executives, top man Heinz Nordhoff. The VW people intrigued, and wanted to know especially about the styling. be surprised to know its geniuses.


Karmann-Ghia Styling

Volkswagen styling had a mixed parentage. was happy to take credit for the and while the true details of the Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia styling are to history, it seems there was of American designer Virgil in it.

Exner had established a distinguished record as a stylist with and at the Raymond Loewy Studio, he headed the Studebaker account. In Exner came to Chrysler, working in the advanced design and then in 1953, taking as the automaker#039;s styling director.

after arriving at Chrysler, had approached Ghia about prototypes, concept cars, and studies to spice up the image of third-largest automaker. Ghia and went on to build several cars and prototypes in Italy Exner#039;s direction.

The first of was the Chrysler K-310 concept car of (K was for Chrysler President Kaufmann T. the number for a theoretical 310 horsepower

Some insist the styling of the Karmann-Ghia was a downsized version of the Chrysler-Ghia D#039;Elegance concept shown.

© Chrysler LLC

The K-310 the Chrysler/Ghia D#039;Elegance concept car of Built on a 115-inch wheelbase, the D#039;Elegance had a graceful rear-roof treatment and a prominent lower-body that swept into a bulge. The Ghia De Soto which Exner himself as a road car for three years, was a on the same theme.

Although Chrysler commissioned a run of 40 coupes, the effects of the Korean War this back to 25 cars, left Ghia with capacity and its designers with to think. The result was that prototype on the VW Beetle platform VW executives scrutinized in November

It looked a lot like the D#039;Elegance down to fit the Beetle#039;s wheelbase and Whether it was a copy of Exner#039;s concept car is less certain. automotive historians believe was simply applying similar to two different projects.

Nonetheless, the had obvious similarities, particularly the proportions of the greenhouse, the lower-body and rear fender bulge, and the of the C-pillars. Ghia added two nostril grilles for effect. Karmann-Ghia styling was now complete.

the pretty little Ghia as a way to expand the VW line without effort, Nordhoff gave the thumbs-up and turned the job of production to Karmann.

Complete Beetle were shipped from to Osnabruck, where Karmann the bodies, and painted, trimmed, and the cars before feeding into Volkswagen#039;s normal system.

The Karmann-Ghia used the and engine of the VW Beetle, but had a shapelier

© Thomas Glatch

Find out on the page how the Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia from the VW Beetle

Volkswagen Engine and Body

When it came to the Volkswagen engine and body, supply diverged. The engine was pure VW The body was something else

Changes from the Beetle#039;s and chassis were minimal. The side rails were to accommodate the body, which at inches, was four inches than the Bug#039;s, and a front bar was added to the suspension. The angle of the column was changed, there different springs and dampers, and the lever was shortened.

Under the engine cover was the standard VW four-cylinder boxer engine. It was at the same 36 horsepower as in the Beetle, minor relocation of components in the bay was necessary to get it to fit under the coupe#039;s bodywork.

With the Volkswagen engine and body finalized, it time to name the car. included San Remo, Corona, and But VW finally called it the Volkswagen making a selling point of responsible for the manufacture and styling.

in 1955 in Europe and the following in the U.S. this clearly was a type of VW, and it soon generated its own The bodywork of course was the big draw. The was three inches longer the Beetle, but nearly seven lower.

Design-house style included curved glass all in a day when that was rare, one-piece door glass, and applied chrome trim.

Was it a car? Was it even a pretty Some pundits damned it faint praise, describing it as for the ladies. At the extreme, a few asked if it was the attractive car in the world.

With a weight of around 1,750 the Karmann-Ghia coupe was about 150 heavier than a Beetle Part of the additional weight from the added width of the body, which gave it six more inches of front hip than the Beetle.

Despite the lower roofline, headroom was more than for tall people. The front were wide and well but being a true 2+2, the had to make do with a nominal rear seat—really not much than a padded cushion 41 inches across. It did fold into a cargo platform combined with a seven-cubic-foot luggage bay, gave the more carrying capacity the contemporary Beetle sedan.

The dashboard used Beetle but more stylish. The Karmann-Ghia vent windows, so cabin did match that of the Bug.

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupe

© Glatch

The dashboard used switchgear, but was more stylish and a huge clock next to the (a fuel gauge wasn#039;t until 1958). A floor controlled the heater, which warm the car on cold days any than did its sister system in the Fresh-air ventilation was inferior to of the Bug because the coupe lacked windows.

Some Karmann-Ghia argued that build was even better than of the Beetle because Karmann have to churn out the cars as as VW had to pump out Beetles. Suffice it to say neither was matched by anything in the price class, though did rust more quickly Beetles.

This was because lacked the equipment to stamp out body panels and instead certain areas of the body lots of smaller panels and the joints and seams were to corrosion.

Go to the next page to find out how the felt from behind the and the impact a new one would have on bank account.

Volkswagen Performance and Price

Volkswagen performance and price reflected the VW placed in its cornerstone product, the

VW insisted the Karmann-Ghia#039;s performance that of the humble Bug; sources say the company didn#039;t to be goaded into comparisons genuine sports cars.

one Karmann-Ghia ad pictured a coupe with stripes and numbers on the as if poised to race. You#039;d said the tag line. The racy-looking car in the would have trouble a Volkswagen. Because it is a Volkswagen.

the Karmann-Ghia had a much smaller area than the Beetle, and the could hit a top speed of around 72 maybe 10 mph higher than the Acceleration was no faster: Both could consume up to 36 seconds 60 mph from a stop, and the transmission with same rubberiness the gears. But both had great traction in muddy or icy conditions.

with little exposure to performance automobiles might felt that the Karmann-Ghia#039;s steering and low-slung stance it sports-car moves. But despite the of the front anti-roll bar and a recommended pressure three-pounds-per-square-inch above of the Beetle, the Karmann really any faster on a twisty road a well-driven Bug.

And it could be as perilous in wet weather or when too hard, no surprise in a car that the Beetle#039;s heavy rearward bias and swing-axle rear

So while performance of the Volkswagen was measured by the Bug#039;s, the car#039;s was a calculated measure above.

The Karmann-Ghia always cost than the equivalent Beetle. A Karmann-Ghia coupe, for example, for $2,395, $900 more a Beetle sedan. And the little was more expensive to repair if the was damaged in an accident.

But the public what it saw, thought the good, and made haste to orders. Production took to build up, but the 10,000th car was on the road by the of 1956.

Karmann-Ghia coupe ran about $900 more a Beetle sedan, convertible were some $400 a Bug ragtop. This 1958 convertible cost $2,725.

© Manocchi

U.S. dealers plagued by early supply though VW didn#039;t really the Karmann-Ghia in America until Those who wanted one in these sometimes had to wait two years to delivery.

A two-seat convertible was introduced in Europe in 1957 and to the U.S. for 1958. It looked the same as the coupe below level. The double-layer soft top was with the same attention lavished on the Beetle cabriolets, and ran about $300-$400 more contemporary Karmann-Ghia coupes.

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupe

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