Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia (1955 – 1974) Review

Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia (1955 – 1974) At A Glance


+Good looks, cool image, easily tuned, all the usual Beetle advantages of a great scene and specialist support

-Not as fast as it looks, even in late 1.6-litre form

Coachbuilder Karmann came up with the idea of producing a new Beetle-based coupe. The new small Volkswagen had a wonderfully simple and adaptable floorpan, and the German specialist realised that it would be comparatively easy to built special bodies for it. Volkswagen, of course, jumped at the chance when it saw the pretty coupé body that Ghia designed for Karmann.

It was a logical extension of the Volkswagen range, which was going from strength to strenth throughout the 1950s - as Porsche had the more expensive end of the sports car market sewn-up with the 356, Volkswagen ensured that its Karmann-Ghia coupe and convertible would have more modest performance.

The public certainly agree that the 1955 Karmann-Ghia was a very good thing, and this sleeker Beetle went on and sold well. However, it wasn't as quick as its lovely looks promised, for its underpinnings and drivetrain were pure Beetle - and that meant less than sparkling performance.

In 1958, Volkswagen and Karmann came up with a convertible version. Extra strengthening made the convertible heavier and therefore slower than the coupé, but that didn’t matter to those who admired this fresh-air fashion statement; America loved it, of course. The original 1192cc engine was increased in capacity in parallel with the Beetle up to 1584cc by 1974.

Ask Honest John

Is it possible to get an extra key made for the immobiliser on my Volkswagen Karmann Ghia?

"I've just bought a 1964 Karmann Ghia. fitted in 1996 with Talisman 3 immobiliser. The immobiliser works most efficiently, but I only have one key to deactivate it and fear that should it fail, I couldn't start the car. I abhor the unnecessary complexity of modern cars. Can I obtain an extra key for this system? A modern immobiliser would be well over the top for the electrical simplicity of a beetle. I can find little about Talisman other than that the company was dissolved sometime after 1997."
As the company has been dissolved, you'll struggle to get a replacement key. If you're concerned about losing the key, one option is to get an auto electrician to disable the immobiliser - or remove it and fit another system. Autokey can sometimes help provide a replacement key ( but I think you may need a code from the original documents.
Answered by Keith Moody
More Questions

What does a Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia (1955 – 1974) cost?