Type 14 Timeline
1950 Unknown to Karmann or VW, Carozzeria Ghia’s owner Mario Boano designs a VW coupe. The “paper car” refines previous Ghia styling ideas. Ghia tries building the car but VW won’t supply a chassis. Meanwhile, Karmann and VW discuss building a Beetle-based sports convertible. VW’s management rejects Karmann’s styling concepts.
1951 Dr. Karmann shares the VW sports car idea with Carozzeria Ghia’s commercial director Luigi Serge.
1953 Early in the year, Mario Boano’s son Gian fetches a VW Beetle from Charles Ladouche, the French importer of Volkswagen. Within five months, Carozzeria Ghia’s Turin, Italy facilities complete a prototype Beetle-based sports coupe. By late summer, Serge presents this coupe to Dr. Karmann.
1954 Karmann’s body engineering team designs body tooling and modifies VW chassis. Only four or five test cars were built. Since the coupe’s fenders were welded into the body shell and that shell used many small pressings, there were nearly 140 inches of welds on the outer skin. Many stampings were water-cooled to prevent distortion. A convertible prototype is built.
1955 On July 14th, Karmann offers the press preview of the nameless VW coupe. VW decides to call the lithe coupe the Karmann-Ghia. On September 14th, the car is officially introduced at the Frankfurt auto show. The Karmann-built coupe differed slightly from Ghia’s prototype. Changes included twin nostril-type front apron vents, curved side glass, full-width bumpers, wider chromes strips around the windows, relocated front signal lamps, revised rear deck louvers and a repositioned Ghia fender badge.
1956 Karmann Ghias available in the U.S. Price: $2,395. Zero-60 time is 34.2 seconds.
1957 August–Karmann-Ghia convertible production begins. Fuel gauge and elaborate Ghia-only horn ring introduced. Vinyl replaces cloth door panels. Roller accelerator wheel replaced with treadle pedal.
1957 September–Convertible model’s official introduction at Frankfurt’s international motor show. The U.S. price is $2,725 and deliveries begin in 1958. Various body reinforcements compensate for the topless car’s reduced body rigidity. All U.S. bound Ghias get plumber’s delight bumper overrider tubes.
1958 August–Door hinges get multi-position check straps.
1959 April–Revised windows and winding mechanisms.
1959 August–Karmann-Ghia loses the voluptuous front fender dip; headlights are raised two inches and the wheel arch openings are reshaped. Front nostrils are replaced by perky multi-louvered intakes. The quarter windows pop out and there are larger rear lamps. Padded dash with grab handle. Side trim length is changed. Driver’s door arm rest added. Special Ghia horn ring replaced by semi-circular Beetle ring. Steering wheel is dished.
1960 March–Steering damper added.
1960 August–New 40-hp 1200cc engine with fully synchronized four-speed transmission. New carburetor with automatic electric choke. Flatter gas tank increases trunk room. Last year for fuel reserve lever.
1961 August–Seat belt anchor provisions installed. Revised front VW emblem. Price reduced: $2,295 coupe, $2,495 convertible. Worm-and-roller steering gear improves precision.
1962 August–Smaller Ghia script from Type III Ghia and the Volkswagen name installed on rear deck lid.
1963 August–Fresh air heating system. Semi-circular horn ring dropped. Type III interior door lock controls installed. Exterior door handles and latch assemblies changed.
1964 April–Convertible top changed. Sheet metal pressings replace castings. Various changes through mid-1965 reduce the top’s bulk.
1964 April–Two levers near parking brake handle replace former heater knob. Sun visors now swivel sideways. Side trim and interior light revised. Basket-weave vinyl seat covers.
1965 August–Larger 1300cc engine with Solex 30 PICT carburetor improves acceleration; new ball-joint front suspension increases steering precision and the semi-circular horn ring returns. Flat hub caps grace vented wheels. The battery is moved to left side of engine compartment and the air cleaner is now on the right. An ash tray is now mounted below the dashboard that sports plastic chrome trim. Swan-like, fender-mounted, rear-view mirror replaced by door-mounted break-away design. Front lid drain tubes added.
1966 August–Type III-inspired 1500cc engine, rear “z” bar, wider rear track and “softer” rear “spring” rate. Front disc brakes. Four bolt wheels. Dual brake circuits. Final drive ratio lowers engine rpm for relaxed cruising. Twelve-volt electric system. Faux-wood dash fascia (mask) with dashboard knee pads sports mini Ghia script. Large speedometer flanked by smaller gauges. Round, dash-mounted, fresh-air control knobs replace former levers below dash. Door locks now have buttons on door tops.
1967 August–Rear side reflectors. Gas filler moved to right front fender–a safety feature. It has a nifty paint protecting rubber flap. Automatic Stick-Shift with new multi-jointed rear suspension. Mirror-shaft mounted interior lamp. Seat backs taller. Trunk release moved inside lockable glove compartment. Front shoulder straps standard. Air conditioning is an option. Trigger-style exterior door handles. Column-mounted ignition switch
1968 August–Manual transmission model’s swing axles replaced by new multi-jointed rear suspension (IRS)–improves handling. Separate headrests on front seat backs. Electric rear window defroster. Convertible gets glass rear window. Gas filler on right fender’s top has remote release. Locking steering column.
1969 August–Larger front and rear signal lamps. Rear lamps include back-up light. Relocated and redesigned rear reflectors, 1600cc single-port engine. Beginning during the 1970 model year there were throttle positioners–either vacuum operated or dashpots installed to reduce emissions. Air intake preheating system thermostatically controlled by engine’s thermostat. Evaporative emissions system installed on California cars; this eventually becomes standard on all U.S. models. Detachable rear lid drain tray with tubes.
1970 August–1600cc dual-port engine with Solex 34 PICT-3 carburetor. Thermostatically controlled air preheating system has separate thermostat on air cleaner assembly. Door locks revert to earlier style. Larger defroster outlets. Felt-style carpeting.
1971 August–Single blade sturdier bumpers, Type III rear tail lamps. Four-spoke collapsible steering wheel. Dashboard fascia and window sills covered by pebble-grain plastic. Inertia-locking, single-tab seat and shoulder belts. Instrument cluster redesigned. Fuel, speed and time are now indicated within two tunnel-like round dials. Revised vacuum-controlled intake air preheating system. Right stalk on steering column operates wipers. Fresh-air control knobs moved. Door window seals changed and window scrapers revised. Seat covers changed. Engine’s compression ratio dropped from 7.7 to 7.3.
1972 August–Reinforced front bumper meets new U.S. standards. Alternator introduced during 1973 model year. Fuel pump body and push rod changed. Girling front brake calipers installed. New cylinder head alloy. Engine and transaxle mounts improved. Fasten seat belt warning system. Parking brake warning lamp. Rear “emergency seat” eliminated. Exhaust gas recirculation on California models.
1973 August–Rear bumper extended. Meets new bumper standard. EGR on all vehicles. California cars get Solex 34 PICT-4 carburetors and twin-tube intake manifold preheating system. Seat belt starter interlock. Small lamp beneath dash illuminates heater controls. Brake light and fasten seat belt lamp now placed together at the dash’s center. VW Owner Security Blanket with Computer Analysis (12-month or 20,000-miles basic warranty) provides free “substitute transportation.” VW claims a 0-60mph time of 18.5sec, top speed 90mph.
1973 Dec. 21–European Type I Ghia production halts, but U.S. export production continues.
1974 June 21,Karmann-Ghia production halts. Coupe’s price: $3,475. A Motorola-built AM radio with stereo eight-track player is a popular option.
Type 14 Timeline Source: VW Trends. September 6, 2002.