The Truth About Cars » Karmann http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:01:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Karmann http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Junkyard Find: 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1970-volkwsagen-karmann-ghia/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/junkyard-find-1970-volkwsagen-karmann-ghia/#comments Sat, 05 Jan 2013 14:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=472447 I see lots and lots of air-cooled Beetles in self-service wrecking yard, and this has been the case for the 30 years I’ve been frequenting such places. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of old Type 1 Bugs slowly trickling into junkyards, and I usually ignore them (though I thought this ’73 Super Beetle was interesting enough to photograph). It’s not that I don’t like these cars— I’ve owned a few and thought they were great fun— but mostly they’re just background. Junked Karmann Ghias, on the other hand, get my attention. Sure, they’re Beetles under the skin, but you just don’t see many of the crypto-sporty air-cooled VWs these days. Here’s one I found at a snow-covered Denver self-service yard last week.
Even though I moved to Denver from the San Francisco Bay Area two years ago, this snow-in-the-junkyard business still seems wrong. Midwesterners keep telling me that I don’t know the meaning of snow, but still… wrong. Anyway, all Karmann Ghias that show up in these yards get picked over in a hurry. This one still has a few goodies left, but it had only been out on the yard for a few days when I found it.
The last owner of this car either had a great sense of humor or no sense of humor. Hey, look, Karmann Ghias had electric rear-window defrosters (to go with the hydrocarbon-o-riffic exhaust-heat-powered interior heaters.
Someone has grabbed the engine out of this car, which came with a 1600cc air-cooled boxer four making 57 horsepower. Air-cooled VWs get engine swaps about every two years, so there’s no telling what this car’s most recent powerplant might have been.
In stock form, these cars didn’t even come close to being sporty or quick, though they were much more fun to drive than the even-worse-than-the-Malaise-MGB horsepower numbers might suggest. Thing is, the transaxle can handle lots of additional power and aftermarket engine upgrades make it pretty cheap to double your horsepower. Then the sensible little two-seater becomes a homicidal spinout monster with the fuel tank perched right over the driver’s knees.

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Junkyard Find: 1986 Volkswagen Scirocco http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1986-volkswagen-scirocco/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1986-volkswagen-scirocco/#comments Fri, 28 Sep 2012 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=461733 The MkII Scirocco never was considered as mainstream cool in North America as it was in Europe, but a fair number of the things still made it to these shores. Nowadays, of course, many months can go by between MkII Scirocco street sightings. In California junkyards, however, it’s still possible to find Sciroccos in high-turnover wrecking yards. Here’s one that I spotted in the San Francisco Bay Area a few weeks ago.
By 1986, VW was having a tough time competing with the Japanese for the hearts of West Coast buyers of sport compacts, and Chrysler was siphoning away a lot of the remaining shoppers with their inexpensive turbocharged machinery.
This one is a run-of-the-mill 8-valve model, no doubt used as a gas-sipping commuter.
Not quite 200,000 miles, but respectable for a 1980s car.


The Scirocco was one of the better-looking machines of its era, which explains this zero-information advertisement for the ’86.

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How About A Double Shot Of Boxster? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/how-about-a-double-shot-of-boxster/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/how-about-a-double-shot-of-boxster/#comments Wed, 19 Sep 2012 14:15:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460812

From now on, Porsche should have even more good PR than PReviously.  Today, TTAC was reached by two press releases, celebrating the momentous occasion of the partial production of the Boxster model at Volkswagen Osnabrück. One release came from Porsche. The other, you guessed it, came from Volkswagen.

Start’s the Porsche version:

“As of today, Porsche has begun partially producing its Boxster model at Volkswagen Osnabrück GmbH. This step is necessary, as Porsche’s main factory in Stuttgart does not have enough capacity to cope with demand. In Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen the new Porsche 911 and the new Boxster are being made in a mixed model operation on one production line. The first vehicle to roll off the line was an Indian red Boxster S with a black soft top. It is destined for a customer in Lower Bavaria. In attendance for the start of Boxster production in Osnabrück were Minister President of Lower Saxony David McAllister, Lord Mayor of Osnabrück Boris Pistorius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn as well as President and CEO of Porsche AG Matthias Müller”

Whereas the Volkswagen version says:

“The Volkswagen plant at Osnabrück started series production of the Porsche Boxster today. The official ceremony on the production line was attended by Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, David McAllister, Minister-President of Lower Saxony, and Matthias Müller, Chairman of the Board of Management of Porsche AG. Volkswagen and Porsche completed the creation of an integrated automotive group together in August and are now able to significantly intensify their cooperation.”

Separate sets of photos were also sent out. Since August, Porsche is officially part of Volkswagen. History buffs will remember that Volkswagen Osnabrück previously was Karmann, a company that fell on hard times and was rescued by Volkswagen for sentimental reasons.

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Volkswagen To Build Porsche Boxsters At Former Karmann Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/volkswagen-to-build-porsche-boxsters-at-former-karmann-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/volkswagen-to-build-porsche-boxsters-at-former-karmann-plant/#comments Mon, 19 Mar 2012 13:31:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=435466

Volkswagen will begin producing Porsche Boxsters at an old Karmann plant in Osnabruck, Germany starting this fall. The Boxster will be built alongside the Volkswagen Golf Cabrio.

The Osnabruck plant is limited to 100,000 cars a year. The Osnabruck plant will handle the overflow production, similar to how Finland’s Valmet Automotive formerly built Boxsters at their Uuisikaupunki, Finland facility. Job One at Porsche’s Zuffenhausen, Germany plant is expected to happen this fall.

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50 Years Typ 34: A Short History Of The Large Karmann http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/50-years-typ-34-a-short-history-of-the-large-karmann/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/50-years-typ-34-a-short-history-of-the-large-karmann/#comments Fri, 25 Feb 2011 13:54:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=385238

Back in the late 50s, Wilhelm Karmann had the inside track in Wolfsburg. His Osnabrück company built the Beetle convertible and the Karmann Ghia (a.k.a. “Typ 14”) for Volkswagen. Rubbing shoulders with Volkswagen engineers and designers, Karmann knew early what others didn’t know: He knew the plans for the notchback VW 1500 “Typ 3”. Karmann shared the secret with the Ghia designers in Turin. Luigi Segre, head of the studio, could not control his excitement.

Drawing after drawing for a new larger Karmann Ghia based on the larger Volkswagen was sent to Osnabrück, along with letters that implored Karmann to build the car. Karmann was all for it, but Volkswagen in Wolfsburg was hesitant. The smaller Karmann Ghia was selling well, and why invest money into too many niches?

Finally, Heinrich Nordhoff, chief of Volkswagen, green lighted the project – with reservations. He doubted it would be a big seller. While the Typ 3 was developed, Karmann developed in parallel the “large Karmann.” To throw off spies, the project received the name “Lyon”. That could be a city in France. Or a big German sausage, “die Lyoner Wurst.”


The project leader at Ghia in Turin was Luigi Sartorelli, the man who had designed the smaller Karmann. For the large Karmann, Sartorelli drew inspiration from a surprising corner: In the U.S., the rear engined, compact and sleek Corvair had created a minor revolution.

Sartorelli’s first designs were heavily influenced by the Corvair, down to the closely grouped twin headlights. Those collided with German law. The inner pair was relegated more towards the center of the car. Segre and Sartorelli protested against the brutalization of their designs – even after production had begun, they sent designs for a different front.

At the Frankfurt Auto Show 1961, 50 years ago, the large Karmann was presented side by side with the freshly launched Typ 3. The model code for the large Karmann was Typ 34. At the time, this was the most expensive and most luxurious Volkswagen in the Wolfsburg line-up. The large Karmann could even be had with an electrically actuated sunroof – a revolution at its time. I remember hand cranked ones well into the 90s.


Despite rumors to the contrary, the large Karmann never had the the Bosch D-Jetronic injection engine. The technical data page of the 11/68 version of the VW 1600 L Karmann Ghia Coupé mentions only the naturally aspirated dual carbureted 1.6 liter engine 1.6 liter engine of the VW 1600. The Volkswagen historians confirm this.

The large Karmann was never officially offered in the U.S. However, many found their way across the Canadian border. Maintaining a show quality or even just a drivable large Karmann is an expensive proposition. Parts are hard to find. If you want to keep up a large Karmann, you better have two (one as a donor vehicle), or Murilee Martin’s number on the speed-dial.

Of course, Karmann immediately started out to design a convertible for the Typ 3, as they did for the Beetle and their own smaller Karmann. As told 2 days ago, this design was nixed, shortly before the introduction of the car.


One of the prototypes for the convertible survived in the Karmann Museum. After the Karmann plant was saved by Volkswagen end of 2009, the Museum was renamed to “Volkswagen Automobilsammlung Osnabrück.” Its chief, Klaus Ulrich, at Karmann since 1973, sometimes drives – very carefully – the prototype at old-timer rallies, such as at the Sachsen Classic Rallye in 2010 (picture above.)


Ulrich is proud of another rarity: The Karmann Ghia 1600 TL hatchback coupe. Built on the VW 1600 TL, it had a big hatch in the back and the rear seats could be folded down. Precursor of the hatchbacks of the 70s. Luigi Segre, who died in 1963, would have approved of the design: The twin headlights are illegally close together, framed in chrome trim. It was never built. Maybe not to steal the thunder of the Passat that came in 1973. It had a big hatch in the back and rear seats that could be folded down.

The large Karmann looked great, but I did not sell well. Only 42,500 units changed hands between 1962 and 1969.

At the end of 1968, Wilhelm Karmann received a letter from Wolfsburg: “In the interest of timely mutual planning, we would like to inform you that we intend to cease production of the Typ 34 in the following year.”

Volkswagen had a make good: The “Volksporsche” 914, built at Karmann from 1969 to 1976.

Catalog from 1964. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Sweet inspiration. The Corvair. Picture courtesy calconnect.com Launch of the large Karmann. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Klaus Ulrich in the Typ 34 convertible prototype at the Sachsen-Rallye 2010. Picture courtesy Volkswagen Never built: The Karmann Ghia 1600 TL hatchback coupe. Picture courtesy  Volkswagen Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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