The legendary company behind the Karmann
Ghia, Beetle cabriolet and Type 34 unveiled their latest concept car at
the Frankfurt Motor Show in November 99.
The new Karmann Coupe was displayed
in two variants, a hardtop and a convertible although it was the
convertible that received most attention. Although a thoroughly modern
design the Coupe does betray a few details of its older heritage. From
the front view the bonnet is styled with a centre line, just like the
original Karmann Ghia. Likewise the nose has two nostril intakes
and small side chrome bumpers details from the 50s original.
At the rear the bumpers are repeated whilst the trunk lid is decorated
with a discrete Karmann Coupe badge in the style of the original.
There are doubts, however, that this concept will ever make it into production, since most manufacturers already have their own models in a similar market. Volkswagen are already busy with the New Beetle Convertible and Audi TT Roadster. The real purpose of Karmann's design study is to showcase the unique retractable hard top system of the cabriolet version.
Karmann holds six patents on the retractable hardtop (RTH) system involved
in the concept coupe. The cars steel roof is split into 3 interlocking
parts, and the systems eight hydraulic / electric motors neatly
stack the 3 roof sections compactly behind the boot of the car. All this
in a 4 seater touring car that still has boot space, in effect you have
both a hardtop and convertible in one car.
Karmann have used the Coupe to show off their technology and want to license the system to other interested manufacturers. Already it is rumoured that Karmann are in negotiations with Volkswagen (for a RHT version of the Golf?) and Ford (the Ford Focus?). Mercedes Benz has a similar system (SLK) but it is not thought to be as advanced.