Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
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The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is a 2+2 developed for and sold by German automaker Volkswagen between 1955 and 1974. Designed by the Italian carrozzeria Ghia and hand-built by the German coachbuilder Karmann, it was available as both a coupe (1955–1974) and convertible (1957–1974). Internally designated the Type 14, the Karmann Ghia utilized the chassis and mechanicals of the Type 1 (Beetle).
From 1962-1969, Volkswagen marketed the Type 34, with angular bodywork and based on the Type 3 platform and mechanicals. More than 445,000. Karmann Ghias were produced in Germany over the car's production life, not including the Type 34 variant. Karmann Ghia Brazil produced 41,600 cars locally for South America between 1962 and 1975.
While generally considered dowdy throughout its lifetime, American industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague included the Type 14 Karmann Ghia in his list of the world's most beautifully designed products.Two subsequent variants of a "Karmann Ghia" were built, the Type 34 and the Karmann Ghia TC.
In the early 1950s, Volkswagen was solely producing a compact 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 carrozzeria Ghia, which adapted styling themes previously explored for Chrysler and Studebaker to a Beetle floorpan widened by 12 in (300 mm). Virgil Exner claimed that the design was his, based on the 1953 Chrysler D'Elegance.
The Type 14 debuted at the October 1953 Paris Auto Show as a styling concept created for Ghia by Luigi Segre. 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 substantially higher price.
The design and prototype were well received by Volkswagen executives, and in August 1955, 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. 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 61 PS (45 kW; 60 hp).
Production doubled soon after the Karmann Ghia's introduction, becoming the car most imported into the U.S. In August 1957, Volkswagen introduced a convertible version of the Type 14. 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, 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 Golf/Rabbit based Scirocco as Volkswagen's "sporty" model in its lineup.