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The first Karmannn-Ghia enhanced Volkswagen's image when the Beetle was fairly new to America in the mid-1950s.
Each one built reminded Beetle buyers that Volkswagen could make a dashing, solidly built car with the Beetle's storied quality and reliability. because the Karmann-Ghia was a Beetle under its sleek body, with the same rear-mounted, rugged, air-cooled engine, chassis and other mechanical components.
One clever VW advertisement pictured it with racing stripes that made it look ready for the track. At first, the Karmann-Ghia just had the first Beetle's fuel-stingy 1.2-liter, 36-horsepower four-cylinder engine.
But acceleration was acceptable because the car only weighed approximately 1,750 pounds, or about 150 pounds more than the Beetle.
Even the nicely padded convertible top with its glass (not plastic) rear window was easy to use, especially when compared to troublesome soft tops of popular British sports cars sold here in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Karmann-Ghia had a sportier dashboard than the Beetle's, besides wide, highly padded adjustable front seats that made Beetle seats look cheap.
The Karmann-Ghia's styling was from Italy's famous Ghia studios, which worked on exotic Italian sports cars.
It saw a car such as the Karmann-Ghis as a way to make more money.