13 June 2017

More than an old car #20: VW Karmann Ghia

I believe all would have heard of Volkswagen, especially after the emissions scandal. This is a throwback to the times when things were simpler. The VW Karmann Ghia has been noted for its beauty and its timelessness, but do you know that its rather long name is due to a collaboration between 2 coachbuilding [car-body manufacturing] firms?

Wilhelm Karmann GmbH, a German firm, was founded in 1901 while Carrozzeria Ghia SpA was founded in Italy in 1916. They were contracted by Volkswagen in the early 1950s, as VW wanted a 'halo car' [ie a premium model] to its lineup. The Karmann Ghia was first produced in 1955, where the public reactions exceeded expectations. It was marketed as a more luxurious model compared to the Beetle, as it was more expensive and time-consuming to make the car body by hand.

The Karmann Ghia was equipped with a 1584cc 6-cylinder engine, allowing it to reach a top speed of 138km/h with an acceleration of 21.3 seconds [0-100km/h]. It was 4.14m long and weighed 870kg. When production ended in 1974, more than 440,000 were produced, out of which only around 80,000 were cabriolets like the one in the picture. As with other VW cars at that time, the engine was located at the back of the car [rear-engined]. Throughout its production period, it underwent some modifications such as the tail-light size and the bumpers. This specimen is a 1970 model, as the tail-lights have gotten bigger but the bumper had not been changed yet.

To the best of my knowledge, there are around 5 here in Singapore, making this a rare car in its own right. You can see the exquisite design of its curves and how unique it would have been back in the 1950s. Hopefully, you will get the chance to see this gem for yourself one day!

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