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Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

Volkswagen Type 14
Manufacturer Volkswagen

Germany 1955–1974
445,238 built[1]

Coupé: 364,401
Cabriolet: 80,837

Brazil 1962–1975
41,689 built[2]

Coupé: 23,393
Cabriolet: 177
TC: 18,119
Assembly Osnabrück, Germany[3]
São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil (VW Brasil)
Designer Luigi Segre[4] at Ghia
Body and chassis
Class coupé
Body style 2-door convertible
2-door coupé
Layout RR layout
Related Volkswagen Beetle
Engine 1200 cc, 1500 cc, or 1600 cc Flat-4
Successor Porsche 914
Volkswagen Scirocco

The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is a sports car marketed in 2+2 coupe (1955–1974) and convertible (1957–1974) body styles by Volkswagen. The Karmann Ghia combined the chassis and mechanicals of the Type 1 (Beetle) with styling by Luigi Segre of the Italian carrozzeria Ghia and hand-built bodywork by the German coach-builder Karmann.

The Karmann Ghia was internally designated the Type 14. In 1961, Volkswagen introduced the Type 34, a variant based on the newly introduced Type 3 platform and featuring angular bodywork.

Production doubled soon after its introduction,[5] becoming the car most imported into the U.S.[5] More than 445,000[3] Karmann Ghias were produced in Germany over the car's production life, not including the Type 34 variant. Karmann Brazil produced 41,600 cars locally for South America between 1962 and 1975.

American industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague included the Karmann Ghia in his list of the world's most beautifully designed products.[6]


The Type 14 debuted at the October 1953 Paris Auto Show as a styling concept created for Ghia by Luigi Segre.[7]

In the early 1950s, Volkswagen was producing its economy car, the Type 1 (Beetle). With an increase in post-war standards of living, executives at Volkswagen proposed adding a halo car to its model range, contracting with German coachbuilder Karmann for its manufacture. Karmann in turn contracted the Italian firm Ghia, who adapted styling themes previously explored for Chrysler and Studebaker to a Beetle floorpan widened by Script error: No such module "convert".. Virgil Exner claimed that the design was his, based on the 1953 Chrysler D'Elegance.[8]

In contrast to the Beetle's machine-welded body with bolt-on fenders, the Karmann Ghia's body panels were butt-welded, hand-shaped, and smoothed with English pewter in a time-consuming process commensurate with higher-end manufacturers, resulting in the Karmann Ghia's higher price.

The design and prototype were well received by Volkswagen executives, and in August 1955[3] the first Type 14 was manufactured in Osnabrück, Germany. Public reaction to the Type 14 exceeded expectations, and more than 10,000 were sold in the first year.

File:VW Karmann Ghia in São Paulo, Brazil.jpg
Brazilian-built Karmann Ghia in a street of São Paulo

The Type 14 was marketed as a practical and stylish 2+2 rather than as a true sports car. As they shared engines, the Type 14's engine displacement grew concurrently with the Type 1 (Beetle), ultimately arriving at a displacement of 1584 cc, producing Script error: No such module "convert"..

In August 1957, Volkswagen introduced a convertible version of the Karmann Ghia. Exterior changes in 1961 included wider and finned front grilles, taller and more rounded rear taillights and headlights relocated to a higher position – with previous models and their lower headlight placement called lowlights. The Italian designer Sergio Sartorelli,[9] designer of Type 34, oversaw the various restylings of Type 14.

In 1970, larger taillights integrated the reversing lights and larger wrap-around turn signals. Still larger and wider taillights increased side visibility. In 1972 large square-section bumpers replaced the smooth round originals. For the USA model only, 1973 modifications mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) included energy-absorbing bumpers. A carpeted package shelf replaced the rear seat.

In late 1974 the car was superseded by the Porsche 914 and the Golf/Rabbit based Scirocco.

Subsequent design studies

In 1990, Karmann introduced a Karmann Ghia-inspired concept car – the Karmann Coupe – at the Frankfurt Motor Show,[10] and in April 2013 Karmann Ghia do Brasil launched a competition for Brazilian students to design a modern interpretation of the classic Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia Coupé, possibly leading to the development of a prototype.[11]

Karmann Ghia (1963)[12]
Engine Displacement Power Torque Wheelbase L × W × H (m) Weight Top speed 0→100 km/h Fuel cap.
OHV four-stroke air-cooled flat 4 "Volkswagen", single Solex 28 PICT carburettor 1,192 cc (77 × 64 mm) Script error: No such module "convert". at 3,600 rpm Script error: No such module "convert". at 2,000 rpm 2,40 m 4.14 × 1.63 × 1.33 820 kg Script error: No such module "convert".
OHV four-stroke air-cooled flat 4 "Volkswagen", Modified with double Solex 32 PBIC carburettor
and OKRASA long-stroke crankshaft.
1,295 cc (77 × 69.5 mm) Script error: No such module "convert". at 4,200 rpm Script error: No such module "convert". at 2,800 rpm Script error: No such module "convert".
Karmann-Ghia taillight comparison
Tail lights (1955–1959) 
Tail lights (1960–1969) 
Tail lights US-spec all red (1970–1971) 
Tail lights Euro-spec red and amber (1970–1971) 
Tail lights (1972–1974) 

Type 34 Karmann Ghia

In September 1961, Volkswagen introduced the VW 1500 Karmann Ghia,[13] or Type 34, based on its new Type 3 platform, featuring Volkswagen's new flat 1500cc engine design, and styling by Italian engineer Sergio Sartorelli.[9] Due to model confusion with the Type 14 1500 introduced in 1967, the Type 34 was known variously as the "Der Große Karmann" ("the big Karmann") in Germany, "Razor Edge Ghia" in the United Kingdom, or "European Ghia" (or "Type 3 Ghia" among enthusiasts) in the United States. Today the name Type 34[13] is recognized as the worldwide naming convention.

The second automobile model in the world to have this option, an electrically operated sliding steel sunroof was optional in 1962. The styling offered more interior and cargo room than the original Karmann Ghia. It featured an electric clock, three luggage spaces, built-in fog lights, round tail lights, upper and lower dash pads, door pads, and long padded armrests. It was the fastest production VW model of its day.

Until it was replaced by the VW-Porsche 914, it was the most expensive and luxurious passenger car VW manufactured in the 1960s – back then a Type 34 cost as much as two basic Beetles in many markets. The comparatively high price meant it never generated high demand, and only 42,505 (plus 17 prototype convertibles[1]) were built over the car's entire production life between 1962 and 1969 (roughly 5,000 a year). Today, the Type 34 is considered a semi-rare collectible with values ranging from US$25,000 (nice original or restored) to $8,000 (driving project) to $3,000 (non-driving parts car). Values in Europe are the highest; an unrestored original Pearl White 1962 Coupe sold for US$34,000 in Germany in late 2010.

Although the Type 34 was available in most countries, it was not offered officially in the U.S. – VW's largest and most important export market – another reason for its low sales numbers. Many still made their way to the USA (most via Canada), and the USA has the largest number of known Type 34s left in the world (400 of the total 1,500 to 2,000 or so remaining[14]).

Like its Type 14 brother, the Type 34 was styled by the Italian design studio Ghia. There are some similar styling influences, but the Type 14 Ghia looks very different from the Type 34. The chassis is also a major difference between the cars and the bumpers remain the same; the Type 14 shares its chassis with a Beetle, whereas the Type 34 body is mounted on the Type 3 chassis and drive train (the same as in a 1500/1600 Notchback, Variant (Squareback) and Fastback) – all distinguished by the standard 1500 pancake engine that allowed a front and rear boot. The Type 34 is mechanically the same as other Type 3s. All bodywork, interior, glass, bumpers, and most of the lenses are unique to the Type 34.

The Wilhelm Karmann factory assembly line which assembled the Type 34 also produced the VW-Porsche 914 (known as Porsche 914 in the USA), the Type 34's replacement.

Karmann Ghia TC

As an alternative to the Type 34 Karmann-Ghia coupé, which Volkswagen had introduced to Europe in 1961, Karmann-Ghia do Brasil looked to Ghia in Turin for a reworked version of the Type 14 at the end of the 1960s. At the time Ghia employed Giorgetto Giugiaro, the famous Italian designer and he was set to work on the new Brazilian Karmann Ghia. The result was the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia TC (Touring Coupé), internally known as the Type 145, which was introduced in 1970.

This was a roomy 2+2 coupe with a modern and comfortable interior. Underneath, it was similar to the Type 14, although the platform of the Volkswagen Variant was used rather than that of the Volkswagen Beetle. The main difference was the engine: the Type 145 TC was fitted with the 1584 cc flat-four air-cooled boxer unit from the Type 3 instead of the 1192 cc unit of the Type 14. The car had Script error: No such module "convert". @ 4600 rpm and a top speed of Script error: No such module "convert"., compared to the Script error: No such module "convert". and Script error: No such module "convert". of the Type 14.

18,119 TC models were produced during its production run from 1970 until 1976. It was only offered in South America and wasn't exported off the continent. There is a prototype that is part of the factory museum collection of Karmann in Osnabrück, Germany.

See also

See also: Karmann



  1. ^ a b Oswald, Werner (2003). Deutsche Autos 1945–1990, Band 3. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. pp. 39, 53. ISBN 3-613-02116-1. 
  2. ^ VW
  3. ^ a b c "Classic Cars: Volkswagen Karmann Ghia". 2007-12-04. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  4. ^ "History of Karmann Ghia". Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  5. ^ a b "Karmann-Ghia Coupe & Convertible, Veloce Publishing". 
  6. ^ "Styled for Success Karmann-Ghia, VW's Carrera for the Common Man and Woman, Cliff Leppke,". 
  7. ^ "The Karmann Story". by Dieter Knust, published by Verlag Meinders & Elstermann GmbH & Co. 1996. 
  8. ^ Klassiker, nr 7, augusti 2012, page 14
  9. ^ a b "Karmann Ghia Italia – Karmann Ghia Italy" (in italiano). 2008-10-18. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  10. ^ [1](retrieved 2 Jun 2013)]
  11. ^ competition for Brazilian students (retrieved 2 Jun 2013)
  12. ^ Auto Retro. Fontainebleau (FR): Éditions LVA. 2010. p. 132. 
  13. ^ a b Hedges, Lee Thomas. "Type 3 Ghia (Type 34) History". Retrieved 2007-04-15. 
  14. ^ As per the Type 34 Registry


  • Holmes, Mark (2007). Ultimate Convertibles: Roofless Beauty. London: Kandour. pp. 156–157. ISBN 978-1-905741-62-5. 

External links