Classic Cars

Karmann Ghia Celebrates its 60th

A big birthday for the Beetle's sexier Italian cousin.

If the fans of the original Volkswagen Beetle are devoted, then those who love the Karmann Ghia are absolutely maniacal, and next month marks an important milestone for them. The car was first shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in 1953, which sort of makes this the 60th anniversary, even though production didn’t actually begin until 1957. The car was a big hit at the show, with production delayed only because VW needed to find a way to produce it cheaply.

The Karmann Ghia was the brainchild of Luigi Segre, a designer for Ghia who had the idea for a more fashionable version of the Beetle, and designed it entirely without any instructions from VW. Mechanically, the Ghia is basically identical to the Beetle, and the difference really just boils down to this sexier Italian body. The car was a big hit, with a production run of 445,000 units, lasting until 1974, slightly longer in Brazil. So prepare for some celebrations from the car's devoted fans, and then perhaps a bit more in 2017, depending on everyone’s view of when its 60th actually is.

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