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1955 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia (Ghia)

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, 1955-74: Illustration by Bernd Reuters
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, 1955-74: Illustration by Bernd Reuters
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, 1955-74
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, 1955-74
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, 1955
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, 1955
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, 1955-74
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, 1955-74
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, 1955-74
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, 1955-74
Volkswagen 1200 Karmann Ghia, 1955
Volkswagen 1200 Karmann Ghia, 1955
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, 1959
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, 1959
Volkswagen 1600 Karmann Ghia, 1972
Volkswagen 1600 Karmann Ghia, 1972
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Convertible, 1957-74
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Convertible, 1957-74
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Convertible, 1957-74 - Photography by René Staud
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Convertible, 1957-74 - Photography by René Staud
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia - Ad
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia - Ad
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia - Ad
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia - Ad
Images: Volkswagen
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VW Karmann Ghia (1955-1974)

#32 - The 100 most beautiful cars (The Daily Telegraph)
Beneath the surface it’s just a VW Beetle, but you’d never guess as much (until someone switches it on, when an air-cooled warble gives the game away).
The Daily Telegraph


In July of 1955, an entirely new Volkswagen model was shown to the automotive press assembled at the Casio Hotel in Georgsmarienhuette, Germany. Unlike the sensible Type 1 Beetle, the Ghia-designed and Karmann-built coupe was downright sexy, and for the next 19 years, the Karmann Ghia would be a staple of VW’s product line.

Following World War II, Karmann Karosserie found itself rebuilding from the effects of 78 Allied bombing raids on its production facility in Osnabrueck, used to produce airplane subassemblies during the war. As early as 1946, Wilhelm Karmann began dialogue with Volkswagen, then under British control, about production of a Type 1 cabriolet.

Later that same year, things looked promising when Volkswagen sent engineers to inspect the completed Karmann prototypes, even going so far as to request pricing. Availability of parts and tooling delayed the project, and by the time dialogue resumed in early 1947, Volkswagen expressed concerns over the safety of open-air cars. Because they were focused on the upcoming launch of the Type 1, the addition of a low-volume convertible variant to the product line was likely seen as too distracting.

Nearly two years would pass before Volkswagen again expressed interest in Karmann’s cabriolet, but following the successful testing of 25 prototypes, VW ordered 1,000 Type 1 cabriolets from the German supplier in mid-1949. The relationship opened the door for future joint ventures, and in 1950, Wilhelm Karmann Jr. began a dialogue with Volkswagen’s Heinrich Nordhoff about the possibility of a sportier cabriolet, built upon the Beetle’s platform.

At first, Nordhoff rejected the idea of a “Sunday Volkswagen,” viewing it as too much of a risk for the brand. Undeterred, Karmann Jr. reached out to Luigi Segre, commercial director of Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin, Italy, and at the 1953 Geneva Motor Show, the pair met to discuss the idea of a sports model for Volkswagen. To avoid suspicion, a new Beetle was shipped to Turin from a French dealership, and by October 1953, Segre was ready to show off the work of designers Mario Boano, his son Gian Paolo, and Sergio Coggiola.

Shown in a Paris garage, the completed prototype coupe was shipped back to Osnabrueck for a few final adjustments at the Karmann factory. Satisfied with the result, Karmann Jr. requested a meeting with Volkswagen’s Nordhoff and Dr. Karl Feuereissen, head of sales. The coupe caught the men by surprise, and the reaction was said to be overwhelmingly positive.

A production deal was put together, and in July of 1955 the Karmann Ghia coupe was revealed to the motoring press, with its public debut taking place a few months later at the Frankfurt Auto Show. In 1956, Karmann began work on a convertible version of the Karmann Ghia, and production of this model began in August 1957.


Volkswagen Typ 1 и родился как автомобиль народный, и долгую жизнь прожил как машина сугубо утилитарная и практичная. Он не был дёшев - бывали конкуренты и подешевле, он не был слишком надёжен - спасала развитая сервисная сеть, он не был красив - но был Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia. Представьте себе элегантнейшее купе итальянских мастеров на базе Renault Logan - с унылыми двигателями и архаичными агрегатами. Невозможно? В конце 1950-х свет увидело купе на базе недорогой и простецкой малолитражки, прекрасное внешне, но тарахтящее маломощным двигателем народного Жука. Не очень быстро, зато и в обслуживании недорого, и в эксплуатации дёшево - Фольксваген же.

Свет автомобиль увидел в 1953-м году - мастера из Ghia (итальянской кузовной мануфактуры, тогда никакого отношения к Форду не имевшей) построили в те годы два прототипа: один для Крайслера - Chrysler/Ghia D'Elegance, второй - с теми же кузовными мотивами - для Фольксвагена. Большое купе для американцев лишь промелькнуло парой десятков экземпляров в автомобильной истории, а Volkswagen Karmann Ghia построили с начала серийного производства в 1955-м без малого полмиллиона экземпляров - народными получились и купе, и даже кабриолет, появившийся в 1957-м - их построили больше 80 тысяч штук.
Source: Kurt Ernst - blog.hemmings.com; diecast43.livejournal.com
Coachbuilder: Ghia
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