The Karmann Ghia is familiar to most automotive enthusiasts as a styling exercise intended to turn the Volkswagen Beetle into a slinky “sportscar” using pedestrian internals. The resulting Type 1 Ghia debuted way back in 1955 and added some (more) Porsche styling to the family sedan. Assembled by Karmann in Osnabrück, Germany, with styling from Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin, Italy, the curvy two-door offered little performance, but much style, compared to its stablemates.
However, the Type 1 Karmann Ghia wasn’t the only car to bear that German-Italian nameplate.
It should come as no surprise that some of the most iconic automobile designs have interesting associations in their geneses. Where those associations come from, though, can sometimes be surprising, as companies leapfrog the globe trying to find the talent, technical expertise, and productive capacity to build a new or unique model.
These stories seem to pop up more often when there’s a shift in a company’s priorities or an attempted to redefine its direction or mission. Large organizations can be slow to adjust to these changes, and so often these major manufacturers turned to small teams to produce what have often become standout models from already legendary lineups.
Often, but not always, as we see in this montage of odd couples.
After seeing this 1986 Volkswagen Quantum GL5 on Tuesday and this 1980 Volkswagen Dasher four-door hatchback on Thursday, it’s only fitting that we should wrap up this week’s Junkyard Finds with yet another old VW: a seldom-seen-in-self-serve-yards 1972 Karmann Ghia.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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