The exotic Italian looks of the VW Karmann Ghia hid annoyingly uncharismatic VW Beetle power, but for some that very deceit has always been part of the cars charm, and the looks of Karmann Ghia are more than enough to make you forgive it almost anything, even its reliance on Beetle power. Designed by Ghia of Italy and it was built by Karmann in Germany, on a slightly widened Beetle platform, the car made an instant hit in the market when it was revealed to the general public in the late 1955 and sales lasted strongly for almost 20 years. A carbriolet followed the Coupe production in 1957 and in America they sold by the boat load nobody seemed to mind that these rather expensive machines drove just like a humble VW Beetle. In fact, some enthusiasts almost seemed to relish the fact of this limitation. There was an attempt to up date the concept of the ride in the 1961 when the bigger more modern version with a 1500 engine was offered, based on the Type 3 VW.
It was plusher and faster than the previous one but never caught on like the original, although 42,000 sales in eight years in hardly disastrous for the Karmann Ghia. The power went up gradually over the years, but the Beetle’s trusty backbone platform, air cooled, rear mounted engine and rattling exhaust note remained the same. As did, of course, the well known reliability of the car.