Thursday, 2 June 2016

Supercharged Karmann Ghia

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

The Karmann Ghia was one of those good ideas that we can all be thankful was pushed into existence. Fusing the bombproof aircooled underpinnings of the VW Beetle with an achingly gorgeous body styled by Ghia's Luigi Segre, the hand-built coupé was a runaway success. It quickly became the USA's biggest automotive import of its time, and the global production figure topped 445,000 in its nineteen-year run.

OK, they weren't quick, but they were easily tuneable, although the model was always meant to be more of a boulevard cruiser than a sports car. And this is a brief that, as standard, it fulfils perfectly.
These things operate on a sliding scale though, don’t they? This particular one has had its horsepower levels cranked up in a classic and sympathetic way, without any perceived need to alter the perfect-from-the-factory aesthetics. This flawless, concours-perfect Ghia, shimmering in a delicate green, wears its whitewalls with pride and sits at a stock-ish height, every inch the retro snapshot of classic aircooled cruising. But under the engine lid hides a Judson supercharger - a period modification originally launched to the aftermarket in 1956, offering a 50% power increase for the leisurely boxer engine.
Interestingly, these blowers were even offered by VW dealers themselves in the USA, until Wolfsburg heard about it and shut the idea down. But this Ghia proves that the sympathetic approach is a winner - it's a classic period-piece, classically tuned. Oh, and it's utterly gorgeous too.

Spotted at Motorsport at the Palace 2016 - more pics here.

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