Karmann and Volkswagen are linked by a partnership that goes back several decades. To this day, the name of Karmann is synonymous with the legendary Beetle convertible and the timelessly elegant Karmann Ghia. Karmann itself can also look back on a history of coach building spanning over a hundred years. It all started in 1901 when Wilhelm Karmann purchased the Klages coach-building factory in Osnabrück. The well-known author Dr Bernd Wiersch meticulously researched the company's history and gives interesting new insights during the interview. The event is open to the public. Admission to the Museum on the day of the lecture is 3 euros per person. Come and be the first to discover new details about the Karmann story.
Events at the AutoMuseum Volkswagen.
The Volkswagen AutoMuseum is in a state of perpetual motion: besides an ever-expanding range of exhibits, there is a constant stream of new and exciting attractions in the form of regular special shows, readings or photo exhibitions. Discover the traditional world of Volkswagen. We look forward to seeing you.
Book launch with Bernd Wiersch 15. March 2015
Beetle in Sports Kit - 60 years of Karmann Ghia.
Special exhibition from 29 January to 11 April 2015
Die erste große Sonderausstellung des AutoMuseum Volkswagen 2015 widmet sich dem Jubiläum eines eleganten, zeitlosen Klassikers: Dem Karmann Ghia, der in in all seinen Facetten durchleutet wird. Von der Evolutionsgeschichte dieses knapp 20 Jahre produzierten Modells über Unikate, Prototypen bis hin zum großen Bruder, dem Typ 34. Lassen Sie sich in die Zeit des Petticoats und des Rock'n Rolls zurückversetzen.
Thanks to the initiative of coachbuilder Wilhelm Karmann and Luigi Segre, director of Carrozzeria Ghia, 1953 saw the creation of a smart little coupé based on the Beetle. It was presented to the Managing Director of Volkswagen, Heinrich Nordhoff, in an audacious stunt – and he gave it his blessing. It finally went into serial production in mid-1955 and the series was augmented by a stylish convertible two years later. Continually updated with a plethora of detailed modifications, both the coupé and the convertible remained in the Volkswagen portfolio until 1974 at which time they were replaced by the Scirocco.
Collectible cars always find owners who wish to further optimise their pride and joy. Accordingly, examples of the Karmann-Ghia can be found with performance-improved engines up to and including the Porsche six-cylinder, or as pure racing cars, or show cars for night-time street cruising. Recently, some have even been fitted with electric motors, which make for an almost silent drive. Some examples underwent factory customisation at the Karmann works in Osnabrück; a unique interior concept design produced in 1962 is just one example.
The Brazilian subsidiary Karmann do Brasil – where the legendary SP2 was created, which, however, was never officially launched in Europe – was an important site in this context. The little Karmann-Ghia was also manufactured in Brazil, albeit with a few modifications. For example, there was minimal padding in the convertible's soft top, and neither the coupé nor the convertible were equipped with a heating system. The TC 145, which replaced the Type 14, was also built in Brazil: a total of 18,119 units were produced between 1970 and 1974.
In addition to the Type 14, Karmann also ventured on the production of the Series 34, which accompanied the launch of the Type 3 saloon. The spacious coupé with its American looks and rear-mounted 1.5 (later 1.6) litre boxer engine never really succeeded although it remained in the portfolio until 1969. As of 1962 there was even a convertible version available but only 12 of them were ever built ex works. Later, some coupés were remodelled as convertibles by specialist firms.
Karmann's history goes back to 1906 when the first passenger cars were built. Adler and Hanomag were major customers in the pre-war era. After the Second World War, Karmann primarily focused on Volkswagen but also built countless models for Audi, BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Opel, Porsche and others. The Karmann works in Osnabrück (now Volkswagen Osnabrück) and Rheine, (which has since been sold off), were available for this.
Rally win with 34 hp - Hans Wehner and his motor racing successes.
15 January to 15 March 2015
The small special show by the Volkswagen AutoMuseum Volkswagen from 15 January to 15 March 2015 is a tribute to the motor racing successes of former tax officer Hans Wehner and his Beetle 1200, which was new at that time. Hans Wehner‘s rally adventures started with his victory in the Tour d‘Europe in 1960, a regularity rally which took place in the south and east of Europe. The pictures taken during the tour are contemporary witnesses of the hardships which both man and machine were forced to endure. It was also a milestone for Volkswagen – the company professed to Wehner’s success and used it for advertising purposes. In the meantime, Hans Wehner prevailed in other rallies. www.volkswagen-automuseum.de
Wehner and his co-driver Horst Wilhelm, both in their mid-thirties at the time, were thoroughly committed racing drivers from Wiesbaden. For years, Wilhelm also officiated as a racing manager in Formula 1. Hans Wehner spent the majority of the Tour d’Europe behind the steering wheel; he had fitted a reclining seat on the co-driver’s side. At that time, teams had to make their own arrangements for road maps, visas and foreign currency. Incidentally, the first chance to look at the vehicle in any detail came in Damascus, where the brand-new 34-PS Beetle model was still completely unknown…
Following the successful tour, Hans Wehner showed off his astonishingly fresh-looking Beetle and his collection of trophies at the Volkswagen dealer Rossel in Wiesbaden. The management congratulated him, while Volkswagen Sales from Wolfsburg sent a formal letter of thanks. Wehner continued driving the Beetle with the legendary registration number of WI-HW 65 in races and in everyday life for another three years before changing to an NSU Prinz. And from the beginning of the seventies, he held an honorary post as a race official and racing manager.
Almost identical with a standard model, the VW Beetle not only endured the 10,000-kilometres of the Tour d’Europe without complaint. It also mastered other classic races such as the Spa-Sofia-Liège and Lyon-Charbonnières rallies as well as various circuit competitions – effortlessly and with only occasional mishaps. During the ‘Marathon de la Route’ on the Spa-Sofia-Liège rally in 1962, for example, the windscreen shattered, which led to Wehner and his co-driver Count Matuschka-Greifenclau donning motorcycle goggles to continue the race. And the Count actually took on a pseudonym with fewer letters, so that he could get through the control points more quickly.