Unearthed: 1971 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia


The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia's Italian design has aged incredibly well, and its German engineering has also withstood many years of use.

With the new Volkswagen Beetle having just made its official debut, we thought it'd be interesting to look at another coupe from the German automaker's past. The idea for the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia came about in the early 1950s because company officials recognized the post-war standard of living increase. Therefore, they felt it was a good time to produce a halo car. In a desire to move away from the more traditional German styling, VW worked with Italian firm Ghia to come up with something different.

Unlike the Beetle's machine welded-body with bolt-on fenders, the Karmann Ghia had body panels that were butt-welded, hand-shaped, and smoothed in English pewter. This entire process took considerably more time and skill, which resulted in the car's higher base price. When the first production cars debuted in 1955, public reaction was solid and more than 10,000 units were sold in the first, exceeding VW's expectations. 1957 saw the introduction of the convertible version and there were various styling changes throughout its lifetime, which ended in 1974.

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Power originally came from a 1200 cc air-cooled flat four with 34hp and 60lb-ft of torque.Subsequent versions came with 1500 and 1700 cc flat fours. All told, some 445,238 were built in factories located in Germany and Brazil. It was replaced in 1974 by the Scirocco. This 1971 Karmann Ghia has been repaired and upgraded to make it fully roadworthy and is 99 percent rust-free. It has 55,000 original miles and sat in a garage for the last 10 years after the previous owner repainted it. There's only a bit of surface rust on the floor and a small hole located in the lower inner fender on the driver's side.

Some additional chrome work is required to get rid of a few dents and the dash pad is cracked, but with a bit more work and cleaning, this '71 Karmann Ghia could look really solid. And its design still looks great today; truly a great example of German engineering and Italian design. Photos courtesy of artiewoocakes.

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