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The Karmann Ghia’s history is somewhat confused, with at least two separate designers claiming they were responsible for scribing out the Ghia’s evocative lines. Both Virgil Exner and Mario Boano claim to have designed the car, some aspects of the car, notably it’s “hips” bore a remarkable resemblance to the Chrysler D’Elegance concept, which had been designed Exner but built by Boano’s Carozzeria Ghia in 1953, however other styling cues from Boano cars which predate the D’Elegance are also present, suggesting that it’s more likely the work of Boano.
The Ghia had come into existence when Luigi Segre (Ghia’s commercial director) had been asked by Karmann to design an “image car” for Volkswagen. Following Europe’s recovery from the effects of WW2, VW had a reputation for building reliable, small and efficient cars, however they wanted to break into new markets and for this they needed a car that would captivate the general public in the same way as the Ford Thunderbird, or the Chevrolet Corvette.