By on August 30, 2014
1968 VW Karmann Ghia. Full gallery here.

1968 VW Karmann Ghia. Full gallery here.

With a German-Italian name like Karmann Ghia it may surprise you that the little coupe/roadster built on the Volkwagen Type I (aka Beetle) chassis had its origins not on the continent but rather a few thousand miles west of Europe, in Detroit, of all places. By the early 1950s, the postwar Volkswagen company was getting on its feet and had expanded their lineup to include the Ben Pons inspired Type II aka Transporter aka Bus and a cabriolet version of the Beetle, built by the German coachbuilder Karmann. That company’s director, Dr. Wilhelm Karmann, had tried to increase his business with VW but management in Wolfsburg was less than receptive to his suggestions for variants of the Beetle. Karmann turned to Ghia to see if a collaboration would be more successful. Corrozzeria Ghia’s Mario Boano and Luigi Segre had already done some consulting for VW, though the company was about as accepting of their ideas as it was with Karmann’s.

1970 VW Karman Ghia cabriolet. Full gallery here.

1970 VW Karman Ghia cabriolet. Full gallery here.

Not much earlier, Boano’s son, Gian Paolo, had bought a VW Type I in Paris and drove it back to Italy. In Turin, Ghia’s workers removed the Beetle’s sedan body and over the next five months they handcrafted a handsome coupe that looked much more sporting than the Beetle (in reality, the Karmann Ghia was slower than the Beetle, all that fine coachbuilding meant that the coupe weighed about 200 lbs more than the Type I sedan). In November of 1953, the prototype of what would become the Karmann Ghia was examined at the Karmann works in Osnabruck by top VW managers including managing director Heinz Nordhoff, the man generally credited with building the modern VW company out of the ruins of war. Nordhoff and his team liked what they saw.

By 1953, Ghia had a well established relationship with Chrysler and their head of advanced styling, Virgil Exner Sr. That relationship was started when C.B. Thomas, the head of Chrysler’s export unit, set up a competition in 1950 between Pinin Farina’s styling house and Ghia to build their respective takes on a future Plymouth sedan. Pinin Farina pretty much built the car as designed, but Ghia added their own sense of style.  Chrysler executives were impressed with the quality of the workmanship and Ghia’s added styling touches. Even more impressive was the fact that Ghia’s price of $10,000/car was a fraction of what it would have cost to have the car fabricated in Detroit, either by UAW labor in-house or by independent fabricators. Italy was still rebuilding after World War II and labor was cheap there. Ghia would go on to build a series of well known and well received show and concept cars for Chrysler in the 1950s and into the 1960s.

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1970 Karmann Ghia coupe. Full gallery here.

The Chrysler-Ghia concepts can be roughly divided into two groups, the first five cars that were mainly designed in Highland Park at Chrysler headquarters and the later cars that had more Ghia influence. The early “Exner Ghia” cars were the K-310, the C-200 convertible, and the fastback SS (for Styling Special), which Thomas liked so much that he ordered another one for himself in notchback form that is known as the Thomas Special. Chrysler’s French distributor may have liked it even more than Thomas and commissioned Ghia to build up to 400 similar cars called the the GS-1 (some sources say fewer than a dozen were actually built). Ghia also liked Exner’s Special because they licensed the design and built 36 Chrysler Specials, one of which is in the collection of the Walter P. Chrysler Museum.

Chrysler Special

Chrysler Special. Full gallery here.

Exner’s vision was getting clarified. The DeSoto Adventurer continued Exner’s themes though Ghia is said to have reshaped the fender lines. He borrowed the long hood, short rear deck, close-coupled coupe layout from the classic European grand tourers, and, contrary to the trends in Detroit in the ’50s, he used chrome trim sparingly. The European influence on Exner would become recursive through the next car Ghia built for him.

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Chrysler D’Elegance. Photos courtesy of RM Auctions.

The Chrysler D’Elegance of 1953 summed up the design philosophy of Exner in those days. A sleek car, it has a beautifully shaped greenhouse with delicate A pillars and graceful C pillars. A character line sweeps back across the D’Elegance’s lower flank from just behind the front wheel arch, eventually rising into the fender bulge over the rear tire. It may have been influenced by European touring cars but the D’Elegance was still unmistakably American, with bright red metallic paint, gun-sight taillights and trick show car features. The rear deck had one of Exner’s signature styling touches, the profile of the spare tire embossed in the metal, Ex’s distinctive and graceful interpretation of the “continental kit”.

1957 Mercury

1957 Mercury

If your familiarity with the continental kit is mainly due to the 1956 Ford Thunderbird, that was a particularly nice application of the concept. Many of the other cars with that modification, whether factory or aftermarket, ended up extending the rear bumper out to make room for the spare and its case. The results were awkward and inelegant, albeit popular. Exner’s idea to move the spare tire cover up onto the trunk lid allowed him to keep both the look of a spare tire carrier and the lines of the car. In the case of the D’Elegance it was a functional spare cover, which lifted up to allow the spare tire to be lowered to the ground with a hydraulic mechanism.

delegance spare

The D’Elegance had a Hemi in it, the original 331 cubic inch FirePower Hemi V8 with 180 hp. It also featured power windows and power steering, two luxury features in those days. The D’Elegance also featured power brakes, the Ausco-Lambert self-energizing disc brake system that had been offered on the top of the line Town & Country Chrysler and the Crown Imperial.

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By the time the D’Elegance was fabricated, Exner and the Ghia stylists had an established working relationship that eventually had ideas going back and forth across the Atlantic. Clay models in 3/8ths scale would be shipped to Turin, where Ghia stylists like Giovanni Savonuzzi would scale up the rendering, often adding their own touches. The response to the D’Elegance when it hit the auto show circuit, debuting at the 1952 Paris auto salon, was so positive that Chrysler executives told Ghia to tool up for a short production run of 40 cars. However, the Korean War was going on and before it was completed the order was cut to 25 D’Elegances. That left Ghia with some unused capacity and its stylists with time on their hands. That’s when Boano and Segre made the little VW coupe to Savonuzzi’s designs.

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1972 VW Karmann Ghia coupe. Full gallery here.

Not only did cutting short the D’Elegance project give Ghia the opportunity to develop what became the Karmann Ghia, the D’Elegance donated its styling to the little VW sports car.

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Virgil Exner Jr., an accomplished car designer in his own right, visited Ghia’s shop in Turin at his father’s behest in 1955, the year the Karmann Ghia went on sale. Though some automotive historians on the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean think that Ghia’s stylists were just applying the same theme to different cars, not directly copying Exner’s work, both Exners, per et fil, thought otherwise. Exner Jr. is quoted in Chrysler Concept Cars 1940-1970 (Fetherston & Thacker, Car Tech Books) as saying that the Karmann Ghia “was a direct, intentional swipe off the Chrysler D’Elegance. Givanni Savonuzzi was the engineer and designer who downsized the D’Elegance and made the Karmann Ghia out of it. Nobody minded it. It was wonderful.”  Exner Jr. would later work as a design consultant for Ghia, where he had a role in Karmann Ghia history.

1972 VW Karmann Ghia cabriolet. Full gallery here.

1972 VW Karmann Ghia cabriolet. Full gallery here.

In 1961, Volkswagen introduced the Type 34 Karmann Ghia, based on the Type 3 with the “pancake” engine. With a design headed by Ghia engineer Sergio Sartorelli, the shape of the Type 34 has nothing to do with the Chrysler D’Elegance or Virgil Exner (well, maybe a little bit as you’ll see later). If you ask me, it may have been influenced by the Chevrolet Corvair and an obscure AMC concept drawing by designer George Lawson called the CUDA. The Type 34 was known as “Der Große Karmann” [the Big Karmann] in Germany, the “Razor Edge Ghia” in the United Kingdom, and the “European Ghia” in the United States. It was expensive, twice the cost of the Beetle, it sold less than 10% of the numbers of the original Karmann Ghia, and it went out of production in 1969, outlasted by the original as well. Type 34s are very rare in the U.S. Interestingly, one of the cars that Virgil Exner Jr. worked on while at Ghia was the Type 34.

1972 VW Karmann Ghia cabriolet. Full gallery here.

1972 VW Karmann Ghia cabriolet. Full gallery here.

The Type 34 may have had nothing to do with the D’Elegance, but similarities between the Chrysler show car and the original Karmann Ghia, particularly in profile, are hard to ignore. The shape of the greenhouse and C pillars and the character line along the lower body sweeping up into the rear fender bulge are just about identical, though the front end treatments are different. The air-cooled, rear-engine Karmann Ghia didn’t need the D’Elegance’s large radiator grille. Also, Savonuzzi got rid of Exner’s inset headlights (whose own influence can be seen on the modern Chrysler 300 cars – the “Bentley” grille on current Chryslers can also be traced back to the early Exner-Ghia cars), moving them to the front of the fenders.  I personally prefer Savonuzzi’s front end to Exner’s. It’s a cleaner look, even if it reminds me a little of some Studebakers.

Type 34 Karmann Ghia. Full gallery here.

Type 34 Karmann Ghia. Full gallery here.

Producing Ghia’s coupe meant just adding a new “top hat” to the Beetle’s platform chassis (platform as in a flat surface, not platform in the modern sense of a car’s hard points), giving the company a new, sporty model with few engineering resources needed to develop it. Nordhoff embraced the idea and as Dr. Karmann had hoped VW gave his company the production contract. The Karmann Ghia would be in production from 1955 to 1974. Perhaps one reason why it stayed in production so long was because of one of those family squabbles that periodically flare up between Volkswagen and Porsche.

Type 34 Karmann Ghia. Full gallery here.

Type 34 Karmann Ghia. Full gallery here.

In the 1960s, though they were separate companies, per Wikipedia, VW and Porsche had an agreement where the sports car maker was responsible for much of the technical development of Volkswagen cars. Under the direction of Ferdinand Piech, Porsche started developing a mid-engine car with a Targa roof. The original plan was to sell 4 cylinder models as VWs and 6 cylinder models as Porsches, replacing the Karmann Ghia at VW and the entry level 4 cylinder 911 marketed as the 912. Porsche decided that it would hurt its brand in America if a car with the same body was sold as a VW so the car was called the Porsche 914 here and the Volkwagen-Porsche 914 in Europe. Soon after the prototype was presented Heinz Nordhoff died and his successor, Kurt Lotz didn’t have the ties to the Porsche family that Nordhoff had. Upset that Porsche wouldn’t share in tooling costs Lotz ended the development agreement with Porsche. VW was still obligated to build the 914, but by then costs made it an impractical replacement for the Karmann Ghia. The Type 34 had never sold more than 5,000 units in a year so when that was discontinued the original Karmann Ghia stayed in production, produced the same way it had been since 1955.

Porsche 914. Full gallery here.

Assembled and mechanically complete Type I chassis were shipped from the main VW factory at Wolfsburn to Osnabruck. Workers at the Karmann works made and painted the bodies, mounted them to the chassis, and completed assembly, installing the interior and trimming out the cars. Finished Karmann Ghias were then shipped back to Wolfsburg for distribution and export.

VW do Brasil's Type 1600 TC, by Giugiaro

VW do Brasil’s Type 1600 TC, by Giugiaro

Quite a few of those exports made it to the United States. Virgil Exner Sr. is reported to have been “delighted” every time he saw a Karmann Ghia on the road. That’s understandable if you think about the fact that car designers rather like it when a design of theirs makes it to production. While there were short production runs of some of the Exner-Ghia cars, their numbers were nothing like the 445,238 Karmann Ghias that were built by Karmann, plus about 42,000 Type 34 cars. Another 23,402 Karmann Ghias were assembled by VW do Brasil, along with the Type 1600 TC (or Touring Coupe), attributed to Giorgetto Giugiaro.

The Karmann Ghias (and Porsche 914) pictured here were photographed at the 2014 Vintage Volkswagen Show in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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46 Comments on “VW’s Karmann Ghia Was a 5/8ths Scale Chrysler...”


  • avatar
    petezeiss

    The Ghia and the contemporary Alfa Giulietta are two of the best uses to which bending sheet metal has ever been put.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    I’ve always liked the Karmann Ghia. Would like to get one someday with a hot-rodded flat four.

    • 0 avatar
      MadHungarian

      They used to be popular for Corvair engine swaps, because the Corvair six fits nicely in the engine compartment with no body modification (unlike in a Beetle).

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Good luck finding a Corvair engine in 2014 though, must be why Subaru 2.0 and 2.2 engines have become popular swaps for some VWs. Seem to work well in a T3/Vanagon, but who knows how well they fit in a Beetle, original Type 2, or Karmann Ghia.

        • 0 avatar
          Roader

          I had a ’71 pop-top Westfalia that I swapped a Corvair engine and Powerglide trans into. Great DD. This was back in the early-80s and it was amusing to see the faces of Vanagon Westy drivers as I cruised past them @ 75mph. The ‘Vair/PG combo actually got a bit better mileage on the highway than the original engine/trans, probably because it didn’t have to work as hard.

          • 0 avatar

            Type IIs could still take “upright” Beetle engines through the 1972 model year, providing you made some custom tins to surround the engine, and keep the cold upper side from the hot lower side to keep the air-cooling working. You can build a Beetle engine with sufficient reliable power to drive a Bus safely on the freeway. I built a 1648cc dual port Beetle motor with a Holley Weber two barrel, a street cam, and some mild porting and polishing for my 1972 Bus. I had had a ’67 split window with a 1500 cc single port engine and it was terrifying to see semi trucks bearing down in the rear view mirror as the vehicle slowed down on southeastern Michigan’s relatively minor uphill grades. With the hi-po Beetle engine, I could cruise all day long at 80 mph.

    • 0 avatar
      spreadsheet monkey

      Subaru flat four engine transplants are popular.

      http://subaghia.com/

  • avatar

    Thanks for the fascinating write-up, Mister Schreiber. I’ve wanted a Karmann Ghia since I first laid eyes one (which, given my age, wasn’t that long ago), so it’s nice to know the history surrounding it and its connection to Chrysler (who knew?!). And actually, that basic rear-fender character line is present in a current VW Group product…the Bentley Continental GT.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Another great start to a long day; thank you very much!

    I recall the intense debate in the 80s regarding which VW Ghia was the one to have; opposing camps had separated into small vs large tail light assemblies.

    These days it’s finally become a moot point; perhaps someone can tweak their noses by filling in the rear housings and adding a set of NOS D’Elegance gunsight assemblies.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    As soon as I read the top line I knew which Chrysler it was, but had never made a visual connection before, let alone knew of any relationship between the cars. Another interesting story. Thanks.

  • avatar

    Great article Ronnie. The connections are clear and it is always inspiring when the best talent from different companies come together and do something unique.

    The TC at the end was a Porsche knock off and according to what I’ve read it was also a Karmaan and Ghia creation. I’m not aware that Giugiaro worked on it. Though I can’t say for sure, it does look pretty good.

  • avatar
    Joss

    You can be sure Chrysler regarded Karman Ghia under threat level. That thumbing of the nose at Wolfsburg & product was still out there.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    amazing, uncanny resemblance. not sure i would have expected a styling relationship if the two cars were sitting side by side. however, having the write up puts it all in perspective. thanks.

    second thought. absolutely thunderstruck to see the chrysler special (blue car above). that looks so much like the current 300 my jaw dropped. someone went back to history for a styling lesson prior to its design.

    • 0 avatar
      clivesl

      This^

      Made me look at the 300 in a whole new way. Great article

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I dunno, aside from the “chopped” roofline I don’t see the resemblance. I think the current 300 is clearly channeling styling cues from the old “letter” cars. Look at these two pics and you’ll see a clear lineage:

      2014 300c:
      http://www.briggschrysler.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/2014-chrysler-300-exterior.jpg

      1956 Chrysler 300B:
      http://www.mad4wheels.com/webpics/hires/00007526%20-%201956%20Chrysler%20300%20B/1956_Chrysler_300_B_004_8472.jpg

      And here’s the inspiration for the grille treatment on the last-gen 300:
      http://www.cars-on-line.com/photo/60800/57chry60861-1.jpg

  • avatar
    Vega

    The Karmann actually had a higher top speed than the beetle. In 1955, the 30hp Beetle was able to reach 110km/h, while the Karmann ran up to a breathtaking 118km/h (74mph) using the same eninge!
    Main reason for the difference was better aerodynamics (better coefficient and smaller frontal area).

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Higher top speed, but definitely slower to get up to it. I wonder why the engine was never beefed up. By the early 1970s, even the ads were joking about the lack of power.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        60 horsepower from 1600 cc even before awful US emmissions controls is pretty lacking, yeah.

        In comparison, the BMW 1600 managed 83 horsepower from its identical displacement 4 cylinder…

        • 0 avatar
          chris724

          My dad’s ’68 912 was 1600cc and rated at 102HP. That was not too bad in such a light car. Were the bugs ever actually 30HP, though? I thought they were 39 or something.

          • 0 avatar
            MRF 95 T-Bird

            Early post-war Beetles were 25 hp. Compare to early Fiat 500′s which were 18 hp. Just enough to get you around town during the Suez crisis.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Everything I’ve read puts all the VW versions of the 1600 flat four somewhere around 60 horsepower, but of course the versions of the flat 4 used in the 356 and 912 had quite a few modifications from the Volkswagen originals.

          • 0 avatar
            Vega

            That’s the difference between German DIN hp and the (very generous) SAE-hp of the 50s and 60s. My 1966 1300 for example is rated at 40hp in Europe, 50hp in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        MadHungarian

        Higher top speed due to aerodynamics, but slower acceleration due to increased weight over a Beetle. There’s a lot of lead in the partially-handbuilt KG body.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Like Ronnie, I ran a modified Ghia in the early 70′s with the dual-port heads, Holley “bug spray” 2-barrel, mechanical advance distributor and an auxiliary oil cooler. The real problem with acceleration in these cars was the jump from 3rd to 4th (top) gear. Fourth was an overdrive; and the engine simply didn’t have enough torque to do much of anything in that gear. A 5-speed would have been ideal, with an extra gear between third and that overdrive gear.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      The 1600 flat-four indeed had around 60 horsepower, but those didn’t show up until the mid-sixties! The flat-four at the time of Karmann-Ghia introduction was 1200cc, with power output ranging from 30 to 40 hp.

      I always loved the Karmann-Ghia styling and I think it still looks great today.

  • avatar
    Roader

    Great article! I’ve always liked the looks of KGs but they were heavy and rusted much faster than standard Type 1s. I’ve only seen a few Type 3 Ghias. An interesting thread of a T3 Ghia brought back to life:

    http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=458238&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Thanks for another educational and entertaining morning read. It seems to be bringing out the sickness in me as I can’t stop imagining a 911 turbo based flared karman and an equally flared hellcat powered D’Elegance. UConnect and those looks. Yup. It’s a sickness.

    • 0 avatar
      Roader

      Nonsensical verbiage but great T1 Ghia engine swap pics:

      http://cvdesign.com.br/clubmed/2010maison/karmann-ghia-engine-swap

      One is of any early Corvair engine swap, the rest are Subaru engines?

    • 0 avatar
      PaulyG

      Or perhaps a Karmann Ghia Boxster!

      http://pca.imirus.com/Mpowered/imirus.jsp?volume=pca13&issue=5&page=80

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      @roader; the nonsense looks like auto translate to me. Those all look fun but not what I had in mind.

      @ PaulyG; YES! a Boxster Ghia is the ticket. It even has the stagger I wanted. That must have been so much fun for someone to do, and so compromise free sweet to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        Roader

        Back when I was in my teens my buddy’s Lakewood got rear ended/totaled so we took the engine out and put it in an IRS T1 frame with an adapter. Real torquey dune buggy. A T1 Ghia was “made” for a 95hp, regular gas Corvair engine. That combo could even be called a sports car. A nice DD and plenty of room to fit a swash plate air conditioner compressor, unlike a standard (Beetle) body T1.

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          Back in my teens (1983) an “associate” was letting me drive his bright orange beetle with a motor that sounded and went much more Porsche than VW. After repeatedly showing one of that eras anemic 5.0′s our tail lights we were putting along short shifting at 2500 or so to make VW sounds and a more authentic beetle took up the challenge. After 2 stop lights of us staying mysteriously door up on him no matter how he slipped the clutch and banged the shifts I looked over to the owner (who wouldn’t stop howling with laughter) if I could launch it really hard at the third light. He said “please do, or I’ll pi myself”. So I finally side slipped the clutch at 4G as the red faded and green started to heat and got a little front wheel lift and a lot of tire smoke before running up to 6750 in first and second. The guys in the authentic beetle looked more offended than impressed at the next light.

        • 0 avatar
          05lgt

          Back in my teens (1983) an “associate” was letting me drive his bright orange beetle with a motor that sounded and went much more Porsche than VW. After repeatedly showing one of that eras anemic 5.0′s our tail lights we were putting along short shifting at 2500 or so to make VW sounds and a more authentic beetle took up the challenge. After 2 stop lights of us staying mysteriously door up on him no matter how he slipped the clutch and banged the shifts I looked over to the owner (who wouldn’t stop howling with laughter)and asked if I could launch it really hard at the third light. He said “please do, or I’ll pi$$ myself”. So I finally side slipped the clutch at 4G as the red faded and green started to heat and got a little front wheel lift and a lot of tire smoke before running up to 6750 in first and second. The guys in the authentic beetle looked more offended than impressed at the next light.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I wish someone would have built an affordable coupe modeled after Exner’s 1954 Desoto Adventurer I Coupe Ghia.

    http://www.carstyling.ru/de/car/1954_desoto_adventurer_i/images/813/

  • avatar
    Mr Imperial

    Excellent, Ronnie.

    I picked up on the styling cues that did make it to Chrysler’s styling once the “Forward Look” Exner era began-

    -The gunsight taillights that were a distinctive feature of the 1955-1962 Imperials.

    -The Continental Kit, which was once for the higher-end of the Chrysler product lines, but once the “toilet lid” on the trunk started appearing on the lowliest Plymouth, it made Imperial owners cringe (one of many Chrysler Corp SNAFU moments)

    -The “freestanding” appearing headlamps of the D’Elegance-Exner always loved the classical era of styling of the 1920′s-1930′s. Freestanding headlamps made their biggest appearance in the 1961-1963 Imperials, albeit much more “open” and not as recessed.

    -The rear window is very similar in design to the special rear-window treatment that the top level Imperial Le Barons (a higher trim level than the Imperial Custom and Imperial Crown) received. Le Barons had a smaller rear window for additional privacy (see http://www.imperialclub.com/Articles/60Review/Page01-reg.jpg).

    -The D’Elegance’s grill is very similar in design to the grill of the 1957 Chrysler 300. The 1957′s top grill edge is slanted out, whereas the bottom is on the D’Elegance.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I wanted a Karmann Ghia so bad my teeth hurt. Cash was short so I wound up with a Beetle. Turned out Karmann Ghias were very rust prone, I suppose due to inadvertently designed-in moisture pockets. They were effectively biodegradable.

  • avatar
    Monty

    This has been bothering me all day. A niggling thought about having seen something similar to the Chrysler. It finally came to me:

    http://images.conceptcarz.com/imgxra/Talbot-Lago/48_Talbot-T-26-GrandSport-DV_12-PBC_01.jpg

    It’s a photo of a 1948 Talbot-Lago T-26 Saoutchik Grand Sport Coupé. Predates both Chryslers by five years or more. The character line, and the slim A and B pillars; I knew I had seen that before.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I see a lot of 1st generation Olds Toronado in the B/C pillar of the Ghia designed Chrysler D’Elegance.

    When the 300 was introduced 10 years ago I immediately noticed the resemblance to the Exner designed Ghia models. The Charger has a lot a the 300 letter series in it’s nose.

    Even though American large coupes have fallen out of favor the import upper luxury Bentley, S-Class and 6 series still have a following. Maybe Chrysler can bring one back.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Great article, Ronnie.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @Ronnie Schreiber,
    Boy, you really come up with some of the most interesting sh!t out there. Great article.

    I really do like looking at the history of the motor vehicle industry and how the companies and people related to each other.

    SIMCA also used Exner and Ghia, the French Connection.

    Interestingly Chrysler was never able to be successful globally as it’s main Detroit competition of Ford and GM. Detroit manufacturers are slowly coming back after decades because of a piss poor global view. The Germans and Japanese were far better with global vehicles since the energy crisis in the 70s.

    But poor old Chrysler went from on disaster to the next.

    Here’s and interesting link.

    http://www.carstyling.ru/en/car/1958_simca_special/

  • avatar
    BCD

    I had a 1956 Karmann Ghia when I was a senior in high school in 1965.
    Paid $900 (huge sum at that time) but I didn’t care – it was red and looked like nothing else in the high school parking lot.

    One beautiful spring day I left school with the windows down and the radio blaring. Stopped for a stop sign and saw Cindy Turner, who was in my class, walking and asked her if she wanted a ride.

    I had only had the car for a few weeks and had given few rides to female classmates.

    She got in, looked all around, and with real big eyes asked:

    “Is this a Porsche?”

    That was better than sex.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Fascinating article Ronnie, thanks!

    I’ve become a vintage VW fan only relatively recently, enjoying the timeless simplicity of their designs. The squareback would have been the VW for me I’m guessing.

    Still think VW needs to do a modern interpretation of the bus as a midi-van…


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