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Sunday, 27 November 2016
KARMANN’S UNKNOWN TREASURES Special Exhibition at the Bremen Classic Motorshow 2017
KARMANN’S UNKNOWN TREASURES
Special Exhibition at the Bremen Classic Motorshow 2017
The elegant Karmann-Ghia, a Volkswagen designed to appeal to women. The original Golf, called the “strawberry basket”. And, of course, a perennial favourite: the Beetle convertible. This is what comes to mind when we think of the name Karmann. A connoisseur would add that the body factory, headquartered in Osnabrück, also manufactured the quirky Porsche 914, dubbed the “People’s Porsche” in addition to BMW’s outstanding 70s era CS coupés. And that was about it – if you follow the general way of thinking. “The Bremen Classic Motor-show, from Friday to Sunday, 3 to 5 February at the Bremen Fair, will add new insights”, promises project manager Frank Ruge.
The fact that the company, which went bankrupt in 2009, was Germany’s most important in-dependent think tank for developing the vehicle bodies of the future. Karmann’s creativity was second to none, not even the major luxury designers working in the medium of sheet metal, such as Pininfarina or Bertone. Above all, Karmann avoided distributing its rare and unique creations, prized as highly as the family silver, among the general population. In fact, this is why the collection of the former family company, the majority of which was taken over by Volkswagen in 2010, is still intact today – and, with its wealth of one-of-a-kind pieces, is one of the most spectacular automotive treasure troves in the world.
The Bremen Classic Motorshow, traditionally seen as the opening event for each new classic car season, gives visitors an up close and personal look at this treasure trove. In addition to exhibits from the Karmann collection, some of which have never before been available for public viewing, the special exhibition will be presenting other rare automobiles by the Osna-brück manufacturer.
Their history stretches back 115 years – back to the year 1901, when Wilhelm Karmann took over a coach and wagon building company. He manufactured his first motor vehicle body one year later. One of the very few surviving artifacts from this era is the Dürkopp 8/18 HP double phaeton from 1910, the oldest automobile in the special exhibition.
Many car brands were among Karmann’s clientele at the time, such as the Adler plant in Frankfurt am Main. Starting in 1936, the top model was the stately Adler Diplomat, with Kar-mann producing the body for the gorgeous convertible version. The special exhibition consid-ers it an honour to display this fascinating luxury vehicle. A few steps down on the modesty scale, but all the more charming for it, is the 1939 Ford Eifel Roadster with Karmann body, which will be featured in Bremen in early February.
The post-war years rung in a true legend: the Hanomag Partner, a highly modern car the commercial vehicle manufacturer planned to use to get back into passenger car construction in 1951. The project was scrapped, along with all 20 of the prototypes made by Karmann … at least, that’s what people believed for decades. Actually, one single model escaped the crusher – and will be on display in Bremen as a one-of-a-kind original piece.
In the era that followed, custom bodies for Volkswagen filled the Osnabrück manufacturer’s portfolio. Series production models are well known. The studies and prototypes that the spe-cial exhibition will be spotlighting, however, are less so. The formal archetype of the VW Kar-mann-Ghia from 1953, the “bug coupé” (1962), discarded at the concept stage, the “big Kar-mann” type 34, a one-of-a-kind piece from 1965, 1600 TL with hatchback, the exotic sports car stylistic study type 1 convertible from 1965. These and other little-known conceptual models Karmann originally created for its major customers are finally going to be on display on the Weser.
In addition, a couple of vehicles will offer surprises of a different sort; who knew that Karmann once also worked for Opel, Volkswagen’s largest competitor? Witnesses of this era include convertible prototypes of the Opel Commodore (1967) and Manta (1970) – in addition to the car that was once the fastest German series production vehicle, the extremely rare Opel Diplomat coupé from 1965, that also bears the distinction of being “Made in Osnabrück”. The “Pik As”, the vision of a racy Audi sports coupé designed in 1973, serves as the chronological finale of the show.
The Bremen Classic Motorshow runs from Friday to Sunday, 3 to 5 February 2017 in all halls at Bremen Fair plus the Hall 8 modular unit. The halls are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. A day pass costs 16 Euro. More info at www.classicmotorshow.de.