If you think that stylish and sporty-looking coupes with frail motors are the brainchild of our time, but never of the past, then meet one of the most massive pseudo sports cars of Germany’s automotive industry – the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia with the aerodynamic body hiding in the bowels of the folk stuffing from the “Beetle”.
Source: The Samba
The Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia convertible simultaneously combined the prosaic mechanics of the Beetle, the unique styling from the Italian Carrozzeria Ghia studio, and the handmade bodywork from the German car body studio. Shortly after the introduction of this model in 1955, production of the model doubled, becoming the most popular machine imported into the United States. American industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague added it to his list as one of the most outstanding design products.
While the world gradually recovered from World War II, consumers began to demand more elegant and graceful vehicles. Although VW proved to be competitive with huge companies such as Ford, GM, and Chrysler, it still needed to uphold its image.
Source: Concept Carz
VW decided to release an “image” car to break into the American market. For this reason, the company offered its good partner, the German coachbuilder Wilhelm Karmann Coachwerks, to build a sports roadster on the Beetle platform. In 1950, VW emissaries came to Osnabrück for the negotiations. Karmann was well aware that the creation of an elite Beetle-based vehicle would require an extraordinary stylistic drawing. He also knew that all of Ghia’s proposals were met with a stern rejection by VW management. Nevertheless, he decided to talk to Luigi Segre, the head of Carrozzeria Ghia. When in early 1953 the design work was over, Karmann went to Paris to see Volkswagen dealer Charles Latouche. He acquired a Beetle and secretly took it to Turin, where the stylist Gian Paolo Boano was supposed to take care of it. Moreover, all this was without the knowledge of VW CEO Nordhoff. As a result, Boano designed an amazing coupe in five months.
After five months, the finished prototype was delivered (again secretly) to Osnabrück. On November 16, 1953, the management of VW came to Osnabrück to finally see the novelty of the creation of which the studio had already been allocated a significant sum. When the distinguished guests saw the exaggeratedly elongated, but on a standard platform, swift, albeit with a simple 1.2-liter 25-horsepower boxer, a snow-white coupe, they grasped.
In July 1955, VW presented the machine to the European press. The press named the new machine a “worldwide sensation” that “still had no proper name”. As Italian names were highly valued Karmann-Ghia was suggested, a delightful-sounding name that everyone liked. In 1955, the model made its debut in the USA, and in August 1957, an open version of the vehicle was presented – a convertible, the release of which started on November 1st.
Source: Concept Carz
Due to the high sales of this model, Volkswagen did not even advertise it in the early 60s. However, the group’s marketing policy began to change in 1961 with the release of a new generation (1961-1967). In the new generation, the model received 40 horsepower, and Volkswagen decided that everyone should know about it. In 1961, a new generation appeared called the Ghia Type 34. It was a variation of the previous Type 14s but on the chassis of the more modern Volkswagen 1500/1600. In the 1965 model year, the coupe and convertible received a 1.3-liter 40-horsepower engine, Solex 30 PICT carburetor that developed 140 km / h. In addition, the 1965 model had a seriously upgraded steering and front suspension, and front-wheel disc brakes were installed. She also received new bumpers and optics: a semi-automatic transmission appeared among the options. The 1965 release became one of the most popular convertibles on the market, as it featured excellent upholstery and glass rather than a plastic rear window. Motorists loved it because it compared favorably with the cheaper convertibles used in the European market. The model was on the assembly line until 1974, during which time almost 470 thousand coupes and convertibles were assembled at factories in Germany and Brazil – a fantastic number for a sports model.
Source: The Daily Drive
The 1965 convertible appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”, where Brad Pitt’s character was the driver of a Karmann Ghia Cabriolet.
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