1965 Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia Type 1 Concept – Amelia Concours 2019

It was delightful to have the classic VW class this year at the Amelia Island Concours. Among the notable Vee-Dubs was this rarely-seen 1965 concept for the second-generation Karmann Ghia.

Ghia styling studio assigned the project to an up-and-comer named Giorgetto Giugiaro — and the resulting design was decades ahead of its time.

From the curvi-linear surfaces to the flush-mounted lighting, this Karmann Ghia must have looked positively bizarre versus the teacup shape of the original.

But there was genius in this design, albeit perhaps too futuristic to be viable. Favorite elements include the sleek roofline, targa top and very ample “frunk” room thanks to the squared nose design. This was a revolution in packaging versus the T1 Squareback or particularly the Beetle. Also love the grace of the slice in the rear fenders as a cold-air intake for the rear-mounted motor.  Charming — as is the overall conventionality of the proportions. Without knowing where the engine was it might be impossible to know from just the design.  Even the rear taillights with their individually-segmented color areas for various functions would take about 20 years to go mainstream.

Another detail delight? The hidden door handles!

Giugiaro might not have been celebrated for this concept as much as he was for his later work. Even so, the timelessness of this 1965 project proves its lasting appeal.

Giugiaro’s Volkswagen support would help him to score numerous follow-up projects. One of those?  The VW Golf for 1974!  This and others helped establish Giugiaro’s ItalDesign boutique with steady design and fabrication business. Until the mid 2010s when a deep downturn would see ItalDesign acquired in full by the VW Group.


1965 Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia Type 1 Concept – Amelia Concours 2019