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For Karman, see: Kármán

Wilhelm Karmann GmbH, commonly known simply as Karmann, in Osnabrückmarker, Germanymarker is the largest independent motor vehicle manufacturing company in Germany. Over the course of more than a century, they have undertaken various roles, from design to production and assembly of components, for various automobile manufacturers; including Chrysler, Porsche, Volkswagen Group and DuraCar.

Notable programmes

Some of the most well-known cars produced by Karmann in the 20th century are the Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet (1949-1980), and, most closely associated with the Karmann name, the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. Between 1955 and 1974, 443,482 VW Karmann Ghias were manufactured, placing their own sports car-style body on the chassis of the Volkswagen Beetle. Later in the 20th century, they assembled the Scirocco, Corrado, and Golf Cabriolet for Volkswagen. Karmann also built the Ford Sierra for the American market, sold under the Merkur brand by Lincoln / Mercury dealers. Many Karmann produced vehicles carry a small wagon wheel emblem, the coat of arms of Osnabrückmarker, where the company was founded.

Karmann assembled complete knock down (CKD) kits in an agreement with American Motors (AMC). In 1968, AMC introduced the Javelin, a new competitor in the U.S. "pony car" segment. AMC did not have a manufacturing subsidiary in Europe, therefore, Karmann assembled the American designed car for distribution in Europe. Karmann built the cars in Rheine with V8 engines and they were named "Javelin 79-K".

Karmann is best known today for its work on convertibles / cabriolets. It provides roof-components for many current cabriolet automobiles, such as the Mercedes-Benz CLK, the Renault Mégane CC, and the Volkswagen New Beetle Cabriolet.

Both the headquarters in Osnabrück, and the additional facility in Rheinemarker also construct complete vehicles, such as the former Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet, the former Audi A4 Cabriolet, the Mercedes-Benz CLK, and the Chrysler Crossfire. A small number of vehicles are also produced in Brazil São Bernardo do Campomarker. The Osnabrück facility also produces the chassis and body panels of the Spyker C8 Spyder.

Other facilities at Sunderlandmarker UK, Pueblamarker Mexico, and Plymouth Townshipmarker U.S. are manufacturing roof systems for the Nissan Micra C+C, Volkswagen New Beetle Cabriolet, and Pontiac G6, respectively.

It is one of the only plants that built cars for the second and third-largest North American automakers Ford (along with its now-defunct Merkur luxury brand) and Chrysler.

A large part of the development of the Chrysler Crossfire was done independently by Karmann, and the vehicle is produced at their Osnabrück facility. Karmann U.S. also supplies the top for the third-generation Chrysler Sebring and Ford Mustang Convertible.

Karmann total car production

Since its beginning in 1901, Karmann has built more than three million complete vehicles of the models as follows, exceptions as indicated:
car make / type years number of cars comments
AMC Javelin Coupé 1968 300
Audi 80 Convertible 1997 - 2000 12,112
Audi A4 Cabriolet & Audi S4 Cabriolet 2002 - today 81,959 base: end 2004
BMW 2000 C/CS 1965 - 1970 13,696 only body in white
BMW 3.0 CS 1971 - 1975 21,147
BMW 635 CSI 1976 - 1989 86,314
Chrysler Crossfire Coupé 2003 - 2008 37,896
Chrysler Crossfire Convertible 2003 - 2008 16,269
Ford Escort FEC Convertible 1983 - 1990 104,237
Ford Escort Convertible 1990 - 1997 80,620
Ford Escort RS Cosworth 1992 - 1996 8,082
Merkur XR4Ti U.S. version of the Ford Sierra XR4i
Land Rover Defender 2002 - 2005 2,777 in Brazilmarker
Mercedes CLK A208 Convertible 1998 - 2003 115,264
Mercedes CLK C208 Coupé 2000 - 2002 28,706
Mercedes CLK A209 Convertible 2003 - today
Nissan Micra C+C 2006 - today
Porsche 356
Porsche 912
Porsche 914 1969 - 1976 118,949
Porsche 968 1991 - 1994 11,803 only Body in White
Renault 19 Convertible 1990 - 1996 29,222 Body in White and soft tops
Renault Mégane I Convertible 1996 - 2003 74,096 body in white and soft tops
Renault Mégane CC 2004 - today only retractable hardtops
Triumph TR6 1969 - 1976
Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 1949 - 1980 331,847
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupé 1955 - 1974 362,601
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Convertible 1957 - 1974 80,881
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Type34 1961 - 1969 42,505
Volkswagen Golf Mk1 Convertible 1979 - 1993 388,522
Volkswagen Corrado 1988 - 1995 97,521
Volkswagen Golf Mk3 Convertible 1993 - 1997 129,475
Volkswagen Golf Mk3 Variant 1997 - 1999 80,928
Volkswagen Golf Mk4 Convertible 1997 - 2001 82,588 base Golf Mk3
Volkswagen Scirocco I 1974 - 1981 504,153
Volkswagen Scirocco II 1981 - 1992 291,497

Karmann Motorhome production

The first motorhomes produced by Karmann were based on the Volkswagen Type 2 chassis, and was launched in 1974 on the late 'Bay Window' chassis. The bodies of these early Karmann’s were of a sandwich structure, had two beds, kitchen, shower, waste water tank, rear body supports, secondary battery, toilet, hot water heater and gas heating. It came with an optional luggage rack over the driving cab. Production of the Type 2 vehicles continued through until 1979, with approximately 1,000 units.

With the introduction of the Volkswagen Type 3 in 1979, Karmann gave the motorhomes a permanent overhead can area with a bed for two people. Between 1980 and 1992, Karmann manufactured 741 Karmann Gipsy's using the chassis of Volkswagen Type 3. This number excludes 30 or more Type 3 Syncro models made between 1986 and 1989, and 7 Syncro 16" models made between 1991 and 1992. Parallel to that, 113 Karmann Cheetah's were manufactured, contributing to a grand total of 891 units. Contrary to popular belief, none of the Gipsy or Cheetah production was done at the Osnabrück factory. Production of these models was performed at the Karmann factory at Rheine.

During the years of 1978 to 1996, approximately 3,103 Karmann Coachbuilt LT's were produced. These models were named the LT "M", LT "L 1", LT "L 2", LT "L Distance Wide", LT "L Distance-Wide Gold", LT "H Distance-Wide", LT "H Distance-Wide Gold", LT "S Distance-Wide", and arguably the ultimate Karmann Coachbuilt of the time, the LT "Distance-Wide Autovilla".

From 1996, the design was updated and new Karmann models were based on new Volkswagen T4 and were named Colorado and Missouri.

In the year 2000, Karmann Mobil was sold at Eura Mobil, although Karmann Mobil operates as an independent enterprise within the Eura Mobil group.

In the year 2003, new superstructures on basis of the fifth Transporter generation, the T5s were introduced.

Volkswagen Karmann Gipsy 1980 - 1992 778 units (including Synchro's)
Volkswagen Karmann Cheetah 1980 - 1992 113 units

Current car production at Karmann Germany

Current production of car modules

Karmann currently is producing car modules for the following vehicles:

Former production of car modules


On 8 April 2009, Karmann filed for bankruptcy protection due to the sharp decline in demand for cars, and the company's financial obligations. Volkswagen revealed on October 24, 2009 that it had made an offer to acquire long-time partner Karmann. On November 20, 2009 Volkswagen said that it would buy Karmann's site at Osnabrück,to produce a new vehicle.

See also


  1. " Volkswagen May Take Over Carmaker Karmann, Spiegel Reports", Bloomberg, October 24, 2009.

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