A Good Karmann Ghia Makes A Solid If Unlikely Investment
First launched in 1955 as a coupe, then two years later as a convertible, the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia was essentially a Beetle with a sexier body. Designed by Luigi Segre under the banner of Carrozzeria Ghia, and built by German coachbuilder Karmann, the Ghia helped VW appeal to a broader audience with minimal financial investment.
Today, the Karmann Ghia’s among the most collectible of air-cooled VWs, and seen by many as a kind of poor-man’s Porsche 356. Despite a production run spanning nearly twenty years in which almost half a million were built, prices have actually done quite well in the past five years, with an average increase of value between both versions equivalent to 17%. Much of this is due to the fact that there were no real big changes made to the Ghia during it’s lifetime, with any improvements stemming from a slow and deliberate evolution in keeping with VW culture of the day—there is little financial advantage in owning an early car relative to a late one.
Solid driver convertibles can be had for about $10-$15k, with comparable coupes roughly half that figure. KG’s needing more attention are readily available for less. The very best examples in the world are now fetching close to $40,000, apparently indicating much room for growth in the future.
Interestingly, though average sales price for convertibles has increased ahead of coupes, the latter have actually performed better overall during the same timeframe. Below is a graph based on Hagerty Price Guide’s historic published values illustrating just that.
With a budget of $15,000, similar European cars of the period are limited to Fiat 124s, needy Porsche 914s, and perhaps the odd Opel GT. Let’s look at it another way; what other classic German convertible can you have for less than the cost of a used Honda Civic?
Petrolicious gives many thanks to Brian Rabold at Hagerty Insurance for his invaluable research and help with this article.