The 1955 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is the ultimate example that sometimes, putting lipstick on a pig really works. Of course, The Karmann Ghia is not lipstick, and the Volkswagen Beetle on which the Karmann Ghia was based was no pig, but the example works just the same. The Karmann Ghia was designed by Ghia, in Italy and built that Karmann, in Germany, combining the best of both countries. It was an incredibly popular car and sold extremely well on both sides of the Atlantic. Nobody seemed to mind that the hot little coupe, or convertible, drove and sounded exactly like the super-budget Volkswagen Beetles. In fact, it may have been part of their charm. Or so I’m told.
The Karmann Ghia was powered by a flat-four engine, which gave it its distinctive boxer sound, of 1.2 to 1.6 liter displacement. Power ranged from 30 horsepower in the early years, all the way to 50 horsepower. This is a big jump, but performance remained lackluster at best. A four-speed manual transmission delivered power to the rear wheels, for a top speed of 87 mph and a 0-60 acceleration time of 25 seconds.
The 1955 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia remained in production, with minor changes, until 1974; it sold extremely well all though its production run, and remains an iconic and beloved car to this day.