Volkswagen introduced its 2+2 sports car, the Karmann Ghia, in 1955 as a hardtop coupe. Within a year more than 10,000 went home with happy customers. The coach built car combined upbeat mechanicals of the Type 1 Beetle with bodywork styled by Carrozzeria Ghia and hand-crafted by Ghia.Starting in 1957 a convertible version hit the market to the delight of many.
While the Volkswagen Beetle had a machine-welded body with bolt-on fenders, the Karmann Ghia’s body panels were butt-welded, hand-shaped, and smoothed with English pewter. This labor-intensive process was more common at high-end automakers. This building method resulted in the Karmann Ghia’s high price of $2,395 in 1955, compared to the Beetle which went for just $1,495 the same year.
In 1974, the final year of German production, the rear seat disappeared on all US destined models due to new laws in the United States that required seat belts. When Germany production finally seized on this day in 1974, more than 445,000 Karmann Ghias had left the assembly line. All were virtually identical to each other, aside from minor changes in styling and upgraded engines throughout the years. Support the restoration of the author’s Karmann Ghia (below) with a donation here or via Venmo to @automotivehistory