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Wilhelm Karmann

(1914—1998)


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(1914–98)

German born car manufacturer Karmann was widely recognized for his contribution to many celebrated car designs, the most well known being the 1955 Karmann Ghia for Volkswagen. His father had established a coach‐building company in Osnabrück, Germany, which from the early years of the 20th century catered for the growing automobile industry. Although he began his professional career in the family business Wilhelm Karmann went on to study at the Institute for Coach‐Building and Vehicle Production at Bernau (1935–7), followed by a period as an engineer in a vehicle construction company. Rejoining the family business in 1939 he was soon involved in military production for the Second World War, followed by military service in 1941 and capture by the Americans. He rejoined the Karmann company in 1945, taking over as its chairman following the death of his father in 1952. Much of the company's subsequent success was due to its long‐standing relationship with Volkswagen, commencing with the Beetle convertible in 1949. Of major importance for the Karmann company's subsequent reputation was the Karmann Ghia, its elegant, flowing lines and sales of nearly 500,000 attracting international attention (see Ghia). The company also had substantial success with the Volkswagen Scirocco (with sales of 700,000) and Golf convertible (with sales of 400,000). Other well‐known cars developed by Karmann included the Jaguar XJS convertible and the Porsche 968. By the time of Wilhelm's death the Karmann company was a significant international concern with subsidiaries in Portugal and Brazil and 6,000 employees.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.


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