1956 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

2dr Coupe

4-cyl. 1192cc/30hp 1bbl

#1 Concours condition#1 Concours

#2 Excellent condition#2 Excellent

#3 Good condition#3 Good

#4 Fair condition#4 Fair

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Model overview

Model description

The first year’s production of the Karmann Ghia Coupe was deemed an unqualified success. A surprising 11,555 Coupes were built in 1956, alongside the Beetle Convertible. At $2,290 the Karman Ghia cost $800 more than the $1,495 Beetle but it was a steady seller for 20 years.

Performance was modest despite the sporty looks, as the Volkswagen’s 36 bhp, 1,192 cc air-cooled flat-four engine took 34.2 seconds to accelerate to 60 mph and top speed was only 70 mph, though that was also the cruising speed. Handling was better than the Beetle with the car being wider and lower, and having an anti-roll bar.

Inside, the two-spoke ivory colored steering wheel had a Wolfsburg crest and the various controls were also ivory colored. The seats were finished in cloth and fully adjustable, and the narrow rear seat was suitable for children and could also be folded down. Leatherette upholstery was optional.

Externally, the cabin bore a marked similarity to Chrysler designer Virgil Exner’s Ghia show cars and was much admired. Twin air intakes were located inside the headlights and fed fresh air into passenger compartments. Brightwork was applied sparingly to bumpers, window trim, air intakes and lights, while there were two chrome strips along the sides.

The oil bath air-cleaner from the bus was placed at the side of the engine and the battery in the engine compartment instead of under the rear seat. While the Karmann Ghia Coupe had a clock in the dashboard, it still lacked a gas gauge, relying on a one-gallon reserve tap until 1961. A tachometer was deemed unnecessary, based on the engine’s limitations.

Seven exterior colors were available for the Karmann Ghia Coupe from January 1956 to August 1957. They included Black, Pelican Red, Lizard Green, Deep Green, Trout Blue, Gazelle Beige, and Deep Brown. Some sources include Antelope Brown.

The Karmann Ghia Coupe combined elegant design with Volkswagen quality and reliability and a widespread dealer network with extensive parts availability. While not exactly a sports car, it was a very stylish sporting coupe that handles reasonably well and looks fantastic from every angle.

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