1961 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupe
|Engine||Flat 4-cylinder, 1500cc (see text)|
Brainchild of Wilhelm Karmann, whose Osnabruck factory was already building a cabriolet version of the Beetle, the Volkswagen’s Karmann Ghia was an immensely successful transformation of the humble Beetle into a stylish coupe. Featuring chic styling from Italian design studio Ghia on a modified Beetle floorpan, the new Volkswagen had an anti-roll bar added up front to improve handling. This, along with the superior aerodynamics of the sleeker bodywork, allowed the Karmann Ghia to perform quite respectably, with a top speed of around 116 km/h. In keeping with the coachbuilt nature of the new model, the interior was better equipped than its Beetle cousin, including a prominent electric clock, push-button radio and cigarette lighter. The original Type 14 Karmann Ghia remained in production until 1973, by which time some 300,000 had been made and technical developments generally mirrored the Beetle. From 1960, a full-synchromesh gearbox and more powerful 34 bhp 1.2-litre engine were adopted. Along the way Volkswagen built the desirable cabriolet version, with a clever folding hood and these proved particularly popular in warm climates like California. Practical, affordable and very cool, the Karmann Ghia has always been popular with enthusiasts seeking a stylish European coupe without the high running costs.