The Wilhelm Karmann GmbH was an automotive and body shop company headquartered in Lower Saxony Osnabrück and producer of the VW Karmann Ghia. In addition to the headquarters in Osnabrück existed in Rheine a manufacturing facility for automobiles. Other production sites for the vehicle components were in Plymouth (Michigan, USA), Cuautlancingo (Mexico), Vendas Novas (Portugal ), Zary and Chorzów ( German: Chorzów ) constructed Poland, Yokohama (Japan) and Sunderland (England).

In addition to the manufacture and development of complete vehicles, especially convertibles and coupes based on vehicles from other manufacturers, the company created mainly roof systems and industrial tools for other vehicle manufacturers. A total of approximately three million vehicles were manufactured by Karmann.

After Volkswagen AG from the end of 2009 took over large parts of the insolvent company, the newly formed Volkswagen Osnabrück GmbH began in March 2011 with the production of the VW Golf VI Cabriolet, Porsche Boxster in September 2012 and the Porsche Cayman in November 2012 at the former Karmann- terrain.

  • 2.1 VW Karmann- Ghia
  • 2.2 Vehicle Development
  • 2.3 Other vehicle models
  • 3.1 overall production
  • 3.2 toolmaking


The Beginnings 1901-1945

Wilhelm Karmann sen. took over on 1 August 1901 Osnabrück renowned car Construction of Christian Klages and launched with a total of ten employees in its independence. How still common at the beginning of the 20th century, the priorities were still in coach, but in 1902 he delivered his first Karosseriebauten to the Duerkopp works in Bielefeld. Other individual orders from private customers and the automotive manufacturers Adler, DKW, Opel and Minerva followed. 1913 reported Wilhelm Karmann, the first patent for a mechanism for folding tops. 1921 Karmann received by the corporation for the automotive industry in Berlin, his first major order.

1924 Karmann traveled to the USA to study the local production methods and implement for its vehicle production. After returning from the U.S., he gave up his previous wood construction of the body, where he initially to the semi- steel construction. Since 1926 he collaborated with the eagle works in Frankfurt and became a pioneer of the German mass- cabriolets and convertible sedan. 1940 Karmann had to set this production, produced during the Second World War, Army motor vehicle bodies.

The rise

After the Second World War, Karmann focused mainly as a contract manufacturer and developer to Volkswagen AG. As early as 1949 Karmann launched its successful cooperation with the Volkswagen plant, for which he designed a four-seat convertible, the VW Beetle convertible.

For Volkswagen Karmann- Ghia next to all convertibles in the vehicle models Beetle and the Golf and the Scirocco and Corrado were manufactured. Karmann expanded and built in the 1960s, other vehicle plants in São Bernardo do Campo (Brazil) and Rheine on. In the years from 1965, the BMW Coupe 2000 C / CS (4 cylinder) the coupes 2.5 CS 2.8 CS 3.0 CS / CSI (6 cylinder) was later produced in the Westphalian Rheine. The " wedding ", ie assembly of body and chassis with motor unit was held in Munich.

In the late 1970s and the 1980s Karmann manufactured the Coupé in the 6 Series from BMW and convertible models of the Ford Escort. From the early 1990s, Mercedes CLK Cabriolet, the Ford Escort RS Cosworth and 1997 were the Audi Cabriolet ( Type 89 ) or the A4 Cabriolet made ​​(from 2002) and from 2003 to 2007, the Chrysler Crossfire as complete vehicles.

The First Crisis

No later than 2007, showed initial problems with the concept as a contract manufacturer for niche vehicles. Additional liquidity was needed to cope with the looming crisis. It was the sale of the non -core business divisions.

After the completion of the sale in 2002 of the motorhome division to Eura Mobil 100% Karmanntochtergesellschaft Heywinkel GmbH was sold to the financial investor north Holding Company mbH from Hannover. In addition, as of March 31, 2008, the sale of the Brazilian subsidiary of the Grupo Brasil, a major Brazilian auto parts supplier. Thus Karmann ended after almost 48 years of its involvement in Brazil. As at the German locations in Osnabrück and Rheine complete vehicles were manufactured near Sao Paulo since the 1960s. In addition to modifications of the Karmann Ghia was the last built under license from the Land Rover Defender band.

The path to insolvency

Since the production of the new Audi and derived from the A5 Convertible and Mercedes also wanted to take the production of the new CLK convertible back into the facilities, Karmann sought unsuccessfully since 2007, according to follow-up orders for the vehicle works in Osnabrück and Rheine. Even before the car production was stopped, Karmann filed on April 8, 2009 to the provisional insolvency. This also associated with Wilhelm Karmann GmbH in Rheine domestic subsidiaries ( district of Steinfurt ) and bite village ( Osnabruck district ) were affected. As an insolvency practitioner Ottmar Hermann was appointed, who was appointed in parallel with the temporary insolvency of Woolworths and had already completed the construction company Philipp Holzmann. The last vehicle rolled on 23 June 2009 at 11:35 clock a black Mercedes CLK convertible from the tape.

The resolution of the Karmanngruppe

Six months after the opening of the preliminary insolvency, the liquidator first gaining popularity in the restructuring of insolvent Karmanngruppe. On November 20, 2009, reported that Volkswagen will take over parts of Karmann. Thus, vehicles are manufactured in Osnabrück from 2011. From the Karmann insolvency Volkswagen acquired for a purchase price of approximately EUR 39 million, mainly machinery, equipment and land. The Volkswagen Osnabrück GmbH mainly comprises the former Karmannsparten press shop, paint shop and assembly.

With effect from 25 February 2010, the Japanese production base of Karmann Japan Co. Ltd. was. by the new entrant Magna International. Thus Magna Steyr manufactures next to the roof system for the Nissan 370Z Roadster now also the roof system of the Infiniti G Convertible.

In early August 2010, the locations in the U.S. and Mexico for about 60 million U.S. $ were sold to the automotive supplier Webasto. With the acquisition of these two production Webasto expanded its production range to include roofing systems for the Ford Mustang, the Chrysler Sebring and the outlet production of the Volkswagen Beetle convertible roof. The " Karmann roof systems " with the remaining production facilities in Osnabrück and Zary in Poland were taken over by the Finnish automotive supplier Valmet Automotive, a subsidiary of the Finnish company Metso Great end of 2010.

On 1 March 2011 Volkswagen announced to take over the metal group of the Karmann GmbH, which is responsible for the production of press tools. The location of the Polish metal group with about 34 employees, has been sold to the specialized automation technology IWM Automation GmbH ( Porta Westfalica ). The Karmann Engineering Services ( KES) with about 70 employees, has been sold as of 1 January 2010 Ferchau Engineering. The company now bears the name of CES Engineering GmbH. The locations bite village, Wolfsburg, Sindelfingen, Ingolstadt and Munich are to be retained.

In June 2011, the Daimler subsidiary MBtech Group has bought the 60 per cent share of Karmann GmbH at the Automotive Testing Papenburg (ATP GmbH). MBtech is now the sole owner.

Rolling stock

VW Karmann Ghia

The VW Karmann Ghia Type 14 is the most famous self-developed and self-produced car model by Karmann. The brilliant idea was Wilhelm Karmann in 1953, a year after taking over his father's body company in Osnabrück: Karmann wanted to create a sporty two- seater on the technical basis of the VW Beetle. Luigi Segre, the head of Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin, is in on the plan. He secretly bought a beetle and put a self- designed body on the chassis. Volkswagen boss Heinrich Nordhoff is the coupe with flowing lines and rounded shapes so excited that he agrees to the construction of the car spontaneously. The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is a bestseller, over 360,000 copies are being built - even if it is dubbed as " housewives - Porsche " and " secretaries - Ferrari ": The car might look like a sports car, but with 30 hp and 115 km / h top speed far from sporting records. Further work on this as on many other vehicles made ​​by Karmann Beeskow John, who until 1976 headed the technical development of 1956. In the produced by Karmann Karmann Ghia quantities, the coupe and convertible have been slightly exceeded both the Golf Cabriolet as well as the Scirocco later; only if one expects along the first Karmann Ghia types on coupe and convertible, the Karmann Ghia was the most successful vehicle of Karmann.

Vehicle development

In addition to the vehicle development of the Audi A3 Cabriolet Karmann was involved in the development of the Mercedes -Benz Vaneo and other developments in the area of ​​commercial vehicles (MAN).

The company presented at the IAA 2005, a study which should justify a new market segment, the Sports Utility Convertible.

Other vehicle models

For the following vehicle manufacturer vehicles and car bodies were manufactured by Karmann.

  • Adlerwerke
  • AMC
  • Audi
  • BMW Coupé many variants, such as the E24 6 Series
  • Chrysler
  • Daimler AG
  • Daimler -Benz
  • DaimlerChrysler
  • DKW, eg DKW DKW F91 and F93 -3 = 6 Convertible
  • Ford
  • Jaguar XJS for example, from 1989
  • Kia Motors
  • Land Rover
  • Porsche
  • Renault
  • Volkswagen

In addition, Karmann surprised again and again with design studies, such as at the IAA in Frankfurt in 2005. Karmann presented here an SUV with convertible roof and counter- opening doors.

As a partner in the development, design and production, the Wilhelm Karmann GmbH involved in the recent market appearance of a traditional sports car manufacturer: In an exclusive small series of super sports cars Spyker C8 Spyder was manufactured by the Dutch brand Spyker since autumn 2005. Within three years, 350 copies of the extravagant two-seater should be produced.


Total production

Overall, Karmann produced in its history, more than three million vehicles of the following models. The production of roof modules was acquired in 2010 by Valmet and continued to the corresponding former Karmann production facilities in Germany and Poland.


Furthermore, Karmann was a manufacturer of tools for deep drawing presses ( division Karmann tools and production Mittelbau ). This area was acquired by Volkswagen in 2011.