My Car Quest

March 3, 2024

Interesting Collector Cars For Less Than $50k USD-Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

by Mike –

Other cars on my list of Interesting Collector Cars For Less Than $50k can be found here.

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

Karmann Ghia

Below is from a Wallace Wyss Karmann Ghia story published earlier here.

In 1950, Karmann approached Volkswagen with a design for a new vehicle. Karmann had a working relationship with Volkswagen by already building the Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet.

Apparently Karmann’s idea was ugly so Karmann swallowed their dignity and went to Italy which is where, then as now, you go for fashion.

They went to Carrozzeria Ghia of Turin who built a prototype of the vehicle, completing it in 1953. In November of 1953, Heinz Nordhoff, the head of Volkswagen at the time, went to Italy, viewed the car and green lighted it for production.

Ironically there was a spot of bother when it was alleged by some parties that it stole more than a little of the Chrysler prototype designs. All you have to do is look at the Chrysler d’Elegance show car and you see the Karmann Ghia is but a 3/4ths scale replica.

Virgil Exner Sr., head of Chrysler at the time was mighty miffed but yet gave Ghia many more one off show car assignments so I guess he wasn’t that miffed.

Karmann Ghia

Officially Italian websites say Mario Boano created the design in 1950. And if you look at Boano’s work on early cars, for example the Alfa Romeo 2500 S convertible of 1949 and a Lancia Aurelia limousine of 1950 they all have similar design “cues.” I would even venture to say it was Exner who was inspired by Italy rather than the other way around.

Karmann Ghia

In July 1955 the Karmann Ghia was unveiled to the public…

The Karmann Ghia’s included the type 14, type 34, and the TC but Americans only saw the one body style, the type 14.

Karmann Ghia

This was the one with rounded contours and side windows with no “wind wings”. It evolved slowly with very little changes throughout its life-span, dating from 1955 through 1974 with the biggest change at the last year which had huge ugly taillamps and heavier “safety” bumpers. Most purists like the earlier models with small taillights and small bumpers.

The convertible did get a glass rear window toward the end of the run which was much handier than the plastic one which wrinkled and turned brown with too much exposure to the sun.

The styling of the Karmann Ghia has grown on me over the years and now I think a clean example would be a lot of fun to own and drive.

Number made: 485,983 including coupes and convertibles from 1955 through 1974.

Hagerty Price Guide value for a condition 2 example: $23,300 to $33,500 depending on model and year.

Sports Car Market Pocket Price Guide median price: $10,300 to $29,500 depending on model and year.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.



Karmann Ghia

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Interesting Collector Cars For Less Than $50k USD-Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
Article Name
Interesting Collector Cars For Less Than $50k USD-Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
Volkswagen, Ghia and Karmann teamed up to design and produce the beautiful Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.


  1. wallace wyss says

    Best car I ever had and I had Ferraris,a Porsche, etc. .My Ghia was a ’71 with the glass back window in the convertible top. It would cruise at 70 mph effortlessly. Cost only an oil change every couple months. The body was so strong I would stand on it to use as a platform for taking pictures. It got t-boned by a hit and run driver (she saw I had a flat after the wreck and took off…) and I sold it though it still run and drove well. Now the ragtops are over $10,000. I never drove a coupe but always wonder if they were insufferable hot boxes because of no vent windows. That was a serious omission when there was no AC option. Another flaw was the dashboard. Imitation wood that cracked. I never saw one with a remade dash. The seatbelts were also archaic and worrisome. I don’t know why a modern Karmann Ghia wasn’t brought back with all the retromobiles….or if Karmann is even still making car bodies.

  2. Glenn Krasner says

    My cousin Neil had a gorgeous Karmann Ghia convertible in British green that he loved. Unfortunately, he grew up and lived up in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn during this period of car ownership, and the teenagers in this area thought a fun thing to do was to repeatedly slashing the convertible top with their switchblades (New York City was a lot tougher place to live back then). He replaced the convertible top four times before finally cutting his losses and selling it. In the New York Tri-State area, you can really only use a convertible with the top down regularly at best about 7 months a year. The winters are fairly brutal, and you can’t drive a convertible Karmann Ghia with its top up in winter with a million tears in it and be comfortable. The ladies in Brooklyn really loved that car, too! Glenn in the Bronx, NY.

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