1963 VOLKSWAGEN KARMANN GHIA
Story and History
Starting at the turn of the 20th Century Wilhelm Karmann Sr. began manufacturing lavish custom automobile bodies in Osnabruck, Germany. In 1946 Wilhelm Jr. designed a body for VW, a cabriolet, and by 1952 he was assembling 25 per day. Being an opportunist, Karmann proposed a deluxe body for the Beetle chassis and Volkswagen was enthusiastic about the idea. Karmann knew Luigi Segre, managing director at Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin and Segre managed to obtain a VW Beetle on which to design and fabricate a prototype. Within a year, Segre had a running prototype to show Karmann assemble and late in 1953, he presented it to Volkswagen. They approved the project – with design by four of Ghia’s best stylists and assembly by Karmann. Internally the project was designated the VW Typ 14. (At the time, Ghia also was fabricating show car bodies from Chrysler’s ideas.) The car made a surprise debut at the September 1955 Frankfurt Auto Show (the IAA) and the October Paris Salon de l’Automobile with VW’s basic 34 horsepower 1,192 cubic centimeters opposed four-cylinder engine. Its stylish lines sold more than 10,000 the first year and nearly half a million in all. A convertible version appeared in 1957. The car bodies were hand-welded and mostly hand-formed. As Volkswagen upgraded the engines in its Beetles, it did the same with these Ghias and this model’s 1,285 cubic-centimeter four developed 39 horsepower, enough to get the 1,830-pound car to top 80 miles per hour.
David Solinger purchased this car brand new. Solinger, a lawyer and renowned art collector, was also the first president of the Whitney Museum who was not named Whitney. He went into his Porsche dealer intending to buy a 356 and drove his Ghia home to Greenwich, Connecticut, where he owned the car for most of its life. The occasional drive from home to his local country club the reason for the low mileage. Mr. Solinger died in 1996 at which time his Karmann Ghia ended up in the north shore of Long Island with its second owner. Our client had seen this K-G at a show and set out on a mission, completed successfully after having an afternoon visit with Solinger’s widow in NYC. The way she lit up relating the fond memories she had from the time she and John enjoyed the VW, he had to have John’s Ghia. Finally getting in touch with the second owner, a Mr. Karaban, our client acquired VW K-G and, like the Solingers, he enjoyed the Ghia sparingly over the past 10 years in the Hamptons.
Having one paint re-spray during Solinger’s ownership, this Karmann Ghia is very much an unmolested example. It has been cared for in a way that John would appreciate and to this day it presents very well. It is fully serviced and ready for it’s fourth owner to continue the enjoyment, preservation, and maintenance of this glorious Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.
90 % Original