In the early 1950s, as the standard of living of the population rose, the demand for more prestigious cars arose. Thus the Volkswagen management offered coachbuilder manufacturer Karmann company the cooperation, which in turn engaged the Italian company Ghia to build a sporty vehicle.
The idea to build a more expensive and sporty model based on the popular Beetle came to the company’s leaders in the early 1950s. Besides, the iconic German automaker wanted to make its way into the American market by building a car designed for single men and women who were well paid and had cash to spare. For post-war buyers, VW executives decided to release an “image” car, and for this reason, the company commissioned Wilhelm Karmann and his coachbuilder company to develop the model. The main condition was the use of the Beetle chassis, but with a sports-type body. Karmann was well known for building convertibles for VW based on the Beetle, so, in 1955, a stylish vehicle with a hint of sportiness was released, which made its spectacular debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The very name Karmann-Ghia indicated the fact that the Germans made their brainchild together with the famous Italian company. Interestingly, Wilhelm Karmann planned to develop the body in his studio, without the involvement of Italians, but in the process, he turned to Carrozzeria Ghia. Without violating the contract they designed not a roadster, as the customers wanted, but a two-door coupe. Surprisingly, the creative anarchy was forgiven and Volkswagen management approved the project.
Source: Vintage Car Collector
Initially, the vehicles of this brand were made exclusively by hand – after all, the company’s conveyors were designed for the Beetle line. It was necessary to weld individual elements of the body into a butt, and then align each seam with lead-tin solder. It was very expensive – the production cost 1.5 times more than for the Beetle. However, the construction quality was one of the best in the world. Gradually, production was rebuilt and the machine became much cheaper, but the quality was maintained at the same level. In August 1957, a convertible version of the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia was released.
During the nineteen years of Karmann-Ghia’s existence: its body style had remained virtually unchanged. The machine received several exterior changes during the release period. Compared with the very first release, in 1971, the power of the model jumped to 60 horsepower. These were the fastest machines of this model, capable of developing up to 60 mph in around 21 seconds, reaching the maximum speed of around 82 mph. The model was also equipped with the best stopping power due to the front disc brakes. As part of the company’s priorities, the company equipped the 1971 model with round side marker lights on the rear fenders, an energy-absorbing steering wheel, a steering column, and front seats with integrated head restraints to comply with US regulations. Also, an external gas tank door was put on the upper front of the body. VW’s semi-automatic transmission was optional and, similar to the Beetle, it received a new double-pivot rear suspension. In the 1971 model year, the following changes were made to the interior of the vehicle: the seats were completely replaced with leatherette (without fabric inserts), and the carpet was changed to felt instead of loop pile. In August 1971 the model received a new 4-spoke safety steering wheel. A black vinyl remote dash was also available and the air vent was changed to a rotary knob.
Movies are a great way to show and advertise a particular car brand. The 1971 Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia is certainly no exception. This classic 1971 release appeared in TV shows and movies such as The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985), Something Wild (1986), Hard Eight (1996), Car Crazy (2001-2022), Stingers (1998-2004) ), and etc.
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