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Karmann Ghia or Chrysler D'Elegance: Which came first .....
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DONGKG
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 5:16 am    Post subject: Karmann Ghia or Chrysler D'Elegance: Which came first ..... Reply with quote

There has been debate as to which vehicle was designed first, Karmann Ghia or Chrysler D'Elegance. This is a good thread to start with.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From www.tomomatsumoto.com;

In VW Treasures by Karmann, Norbye--who interviewed designers and checked documents--suggests that the inspiration for the car came from Mario Boano's (who worked for several Italian coachbuilding firms and bought Carozzeria Ghia in 1944) creative mind.

Norbye's evidence is powerful. Several Boano-designed cars foreshadowed VW's Ghia. These include the Alfa Romeo 6C2500 S Convertible (1949) the Lancia Aurelia limousine (1950), and the Gioiello/Fiat coupe (1949). It's more likely that the sultry VW's pint-sized Chrysler d'Elegance-look was Boano's rather than Exner's.

Nevertheless, the plot thickens. Ghia built Chrysler's show car in 1953. Then, it built about 400 d'Elegance-like GS-1s for Charles Ladouche's Societe France Motors. This Paris firm imported Chryslers and VWs too.

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DONGKG
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

x x x x x x x x x

"Carrozzeria Ghia was one of Italy’s most prominent auto design firms. The head of Ghia in 1950 was Mario Boano. He was a master craftsman by trade, having worked with coachbuilders in the 1930’s and 40’s, creating wooden automotive models on contract. After merging with the Carrozzeria Ghia design firm in 1946, he began designing some very original forward thinking cars for firms like Alfa Romeo, Lancia, and Fiat. These cars were designed from 1949 to 1952, and all had similar styling components to what would eventually be the VW Karmann Ghia. Gian Paolo Boano, Mario’s son, worked as his assistant from 1950-55 and remembers his father doing design work based on the Beetle chassis during 1950-52. Although his designs were on paper and well detailed his request for a VW chassis from the VW factory were denied, and no full-size prototypes were ever constructed.

"As Carrozzeria Ghia depended on auto design contractors for their livelihood, they were always on the lookout for new clients and new opportunities. In 1951, Luigi Segre was sent to the U.S. to negotiate new business from the American auto makers. He met with the head of Chrysler’s show car division, Virgil Exner. Exner had been an automotive design virtuoso, working for Pontiac in the 1930s, Studebaker in the 1940s, and joined Chrysler in 1950. He is responsible for transforming the entire Chrysler model line in the early 1950s, from squared engineer inspired boxes to stylish masterpieces. Due to the high cost and time consuming process of turning auto designs into actual show car prototypes, Exner hired Ghia to build his Chrysler designs in the 1950’s.

"The most interesting of the cars Ghia built for Exner was the 1953 Chrysler D’elegance. This special bodied car began as a collection of sketches and a plaster scaled model, which was sent to Ghia in Italy in late 1952, completed in early 1953, and returned to Chrysler. Remarkably, the side fender treatment and smooth front end design were strikingly similar to the prototype that Ghia was working on for Karmann in 1953. Since Ghia had both prototype projects being built side-by-side, it is plausible that certain liberties were taken and ideas shared in both Chrysler and Karmann sports car prototypes. Carrozzeria Ghia has denied any link between the 1953 VW Karmann Ghia and the 1953 Chrysler D’elegance. One thing is for certain, however, it is one of the most interesting connections in VW history.

"When Luigi Segre returned to the Ghia studios in Italy to break the news that Karmann wanted them to design a prototype sports car for Volkswagen, his excitement and anticipation generated from this opportunity was immense. Since Ghia’s owner, Mario Boano, had problems in the past with securing a Beetle chassis from VW, he asked Segre to visit nearby France to get a chassis for this new project. In March 1953, Segre met with the French VW importer, Charles Ladouche, and soon a 1952 Standard Beetle Sedan was ready. Gian Paolo drove to Paris a few weeks later to retrieve the car which was to become the prototype Karmann Ghia Coupe of 1953. Gian Paolo, upon reflection of the secretive project, recalled having problems at the Italian border because he did not have the necessary import papers for this VW.

"Now that Ghia had found a chassis, they made the VW sports coupe project their highest priority. With Boano’s styling ideas from the past three years, the entire Ghia staff, and huge expectations of success in their minds, Carrozzeria Ghia completed the first prototype in only five months, by September 1953. There have never been any pre-prototype sketches release to the public by Ghia, another interesting fact considering the Chrysler connection."


x x x x x x x x x


(This an excerpt from the article written by Lee Thomas Hedges. Originally titled "The Un Told Story - VW Karmann Ghia Research & Development" and published in the May 1996 issue of VW Trends Magazine.)
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 11:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i'll take the chrysler Cool
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me it may be Karmann Ghia that came first, but, agan, this is just my humble opinion. Confused
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The d'Elegance was a Boano refinement (very slight changes) made on a design drawn and modeled 1:1 in clay by Exner in in the Highland Park, Michigan design studios of Chrysler in 1952. Plans were sent to Ghia for the vehicle to flesh out into prototype form, which occurred in early 1953, in time for the auto show circuit. Some details of the Exner design were smoothed over or "standardized" to parts Ghia could easily obtain (or adapt from other cars it had already coachbuilt) in Turin. The Karmann-Ghia prototype design took many of the styling cues of the Chrysler, but translated them into the more petite scale of the VW chassis. The Karmann-Ghia prototype was finished and shown to Heinrich Nordhoff (the VW boss) in November of 1953. They were probably not built concurrently within the same month.

There is alot of legend, mystery, and conjecture on this question of "which came first" and "who actually styled the KG." My own conclusion is that it was done in-house at Ghia (meaning, likely Boano's but possibly Segre's work), after the d'Elegance was built, influenced by the look of the d'Elegance but improving on some of its more heavy-handed details (with an eye towards being easier to produce and being subject to a rear-engine design brief).

It is worth noting that the roofline we know as the Karmann Ghia roofline had appeared and continued to appear on coachbuilt Ghia designs before and after the Karmann-Ghia was designed. The front fender contour also appeared on other Ghia designs which went into limited production as early as 1954.

The d'Elegance was series made, in a run of roughly 25. There were around ten other Ghia-Chrysler designs created between 1952 and 1959 or so, some of which went into limited production by Ghia and were sold by select Chrysler dealers in the USA and/or the French Chrysler importer. My grandfather had one of these cars, from new.
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DONGKG
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is indeed a well discussed reply, man. Well-explained too. This hanging issue is analogous to this myth - whihc came first the hen or the egg? Either way, it is very hard to conclude and to speculate. But, being a Karmann Ghia buff (although my opinion is too bias), I know that Karmann Ghia came first. Well, it is apparent on the success it made during its heydays. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The d'Elegance was styled, modelled, built, and shown first, chronologically. It also went into series production first.

The Karmann-Ghia, however, came in first in overall sales. Between the two vehicles, I'm afraid that's the only objective "first" the KG can lay hold to.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2007 9:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

retrowagen wrote:
The d'Elegance was styled, modelled, built, and shown first, chronologically. It also went into series production first.

The Karmann-Ghia, however, came in first in overall sales. Between the two vehicles, I'm afraid that's the only objective "first" the KG can lay hold to.


Yes, I guess history is already written, d'Elegance came first, and Karmann Ghia dominated the market ~~~~Henceforth, history cannot be re-written again. Past is past, let us live with it. Great opinion, retrowagen! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2007 1:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

God does that d'Elegance look ugly with its deep-set headlights.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2008 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Towel Rail wrote:
God does that d'Elegance look ugly with its deep-set headlights.


Ha ha ha. And the front grills too. It looks sad~~~ha ha ha.

Yeah, are we all biased on our comment on this d'Elegance? What you do think a d-Elegence buff would say about the Karmann Ghia? Huh,nice question~~~~ Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2008 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i'm definitely a KG buff, but i have to say that the chrysler looks really good to me... if i came across a crashed KG and a bunch of sheet metal there might be trouble. if custom built, it'd be a cinch to slip in a good size motor and tranny under that big front end, put a posi in the back, get some good rubber and surprise the hell out of some of those imported rice-burners... Twisted Evil
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NiccoHel wrote:
i'm definitely a KG buff, but i have to say that the chrysler looks really good to me... if i came across a crashed KG and a bunch of sheet metal there might be trouble. if custom built, it'd be a cinch to slip in a good size motor and tranny under that big front end, put a posi in the back, get some good rubber and surprise the hell out of some of those imported rice-burners... Twisted Evil


Yeah! That would be cool!
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder who BMW chose to style the BMW 503?

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gary wrote:
I wonder who BMW chose to style the BMW 503?


It was a German industrial designer of noble heritage by the name of Albrecht von Goertz, working independently of any styling "house" or studio. He might be more famous for styling the original Datsun 240Z...
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

retrowagen wrote:
Gary wrote:
I wonder who BMW chose to style the BMW 503?


It was a German industrial designer of noble heritage by the name of Albrecht von Goertz, working independently of any styling "house" or studio. He might be more famous for styling the original Datsun 240Z...
I rather suspect he borrowed some styling cues from Karmann.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gary wrote:
retrowagen wrote:
Gary wrote:
I wonder who BMW chose to style the BMW 503?


It was a German industrial designer of noble heritage by the name of Albrecht von Goertz, working independently of any styling "house" or studio. He might be more famous for styling the original Datsun 240Z...
I rather suspect he borrowed some styling cues from Karmann.

Confused Sorry, not seeing that. Care to elaborate?
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

retrowagen wrote:
Gary wrote:
retrowagen wrote:
Gary wrote:
I wonder who BMW chose to style the BMW 503?


It was a German industrial designer of noble heritage by the name of Albrecht von Goertz, working independently of any styling "house" or studio. He might be more famous for styling the original Datsun 240Z...
I rather suspect he borrowed some styling cues from Karmann.

Confused Sorry, not seeing that. Care to elaborate?
To me the bulging nose and the curves in general especially with the front fenders.


When I delivered this car to a buyer in Colorado, I was asked if it was a Studebaker.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I see a Ghia influence in the BMW; nose, hood, horizontal grilles, bumper blade.
I have also gotten the Studebaker question about my `69.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

so was it the chicken or the egg????
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