One of the most famous German coach builders was the Osnabrück-based company Wilhelm Karmann GmbH. It was founded by Wilhelm Karmann in August 1901. In addition to own complete bodies for various vehicle manufacturers, Karmann built especially convertibles and coupés based on production models. In total, over three million vehicles were produced at Karmann.
The Volkswagen Beetle Type 1 based Karmann Ghia models surely are the most famous vehicles. But, before it came to this beautifully designed series sports cars, some special bodies were designed as studies. The actual design of the Karmann Ghia type 14 comes from the pen of the Italian designer Sergio Sartorelli in the House of Ghia, an Italian coach builder. However, of course studies were repeatedly drawn, which should reshape the design evolution of the Karmann Ghia, built from 1954.
So, a new study was designed in 1965 for the Karmann Ghia convertible. The contract for this study was once again given to Ghia in Italy. The result was a very special one of a kind, which impresses with its very modern lines for the 1960s. The Karmann Ghia Type 1 study now came along with very athletic and angular lines. The front enters a angled wedge which enters the headlights. The front window is very flat and the driver’s cabin is equipped with a rollover bar on each side. The roof disappears completely and releases an unlimited view to the rear. Because the Karmann Ghia Type 1 study was a pure concept car was, the two sides the rear were designed differently. On the passenger side the air intake the the engine compartment is designed like gills, while two large air intake vents grace the driver’s side. Also the door handle sills are designed differently on both sides and are aligned with the air intakes. On the driver’s side, one finds the Ghia emblem behind the drivers door, on the passenger side at the height of the A-pillar. The Karmann Ghia type 1 study has never been built.
The study disappeared, as well as more prototypes and studies, for almost 40 years in a storage until Volkswagen assembled the Karmann vehicles in a collection on the former Karmann assembly area after the takeover in March 2011.
From the 3. Until 5. February 2017 the Karmann Ghia Type 1 Study some other Karmann vehicles be admired on the Bremen Classic Motorshow. Some almost never seen exhibits from the Osnabrück Karmann collection will be issued, such as the formal archetype of the VW Karmann Ghia from 1953, the “Coupé beetle” dropped at the concept stage (1962), the 1965 “Big Karmann” Type 34 one-off, the 1600 TL with hatchback and the exotic sports car study Type 1 convertible Study of 1965. These and other little-known models, that once Karmann created for his corporate clients, may finally be admired along the Weser.
In addition, a few exhibits provide moments of surprise of a different kind; who knows that Karmann at that time also worked for Volkswagens major competitors Opel? Certificates are the convertible prototype of Opel types Commodore (1967) and Manta (1970) – in addition to the formerly fastest German production car, the extremely rare Opel Diplomat Coupé from 1965, which also carries the title “Made in Osnabrück”. The “Pik as”, the 1973 designed racy vision of a Audi Sports Coupe, finally makes the chronological showdown of the fireworks.
FOTOS: ©Kay MacKenneth