Carrozzeria Ghia

Karman-Ghia Coupé

Servel Wunderbar
Ghia, Carrozzeria
Karman-Ghia Coupé

Volkswagen of America (just established) introduced its Karmann Ghia coupé in the US. An alternative sleek new body style for the standard Beetle chassis, it was designed by Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin, Italy. Sticker price was $2395. Production of the 1200 coupé began in August, 1955. A convertible was added in August 1957, and both were produced for about ten years. In 1956, only 70,000 Beetles had been produced for the US (19 million were produced by 1978). Though power plants were identical (36 hp air-cooled flat-four opposed engine), the more aerodynamic Ghiastyling resulted in a significant improvement in gas milage, averaging an additional 4 to 5 mpg, and increasing the top speed from 67 to 71 mph. The Ghia averaged 35 mpg at a speed of 60 mph, compared with average domestic milage of 16 mpg; or more than double. But in those days, US drivers did not consider fuel economy as a big deal, with gas at 30 cents a gallon. That awareness did not arrive till the mid 1970s. Even so, annual savings to the average user (10,000 miles) was an impressive $250. The Ghiaalso had 100% better driver's vision than the Beetle, and of course, an absolutely beautifully- made body with a rich, sleek appearance. For those who complained about the "ugly" Beetle, this answer by Volkswagen left them speechless!

100 Years of Design consists of excerpts from a book by Carroll M. Gantz, FIDSA, entitled, Design Chronicles: Significant Mass-produced Designs of the 20th Century, published August 2005 by Schiffer Publications, Ltd.
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