Fa­mous soft-top shop folds

A famed con­vert­ible com­pany fal­ters, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

IT MADE the Volk­swa­gen Kar­mann Ghia one of the most sought-af­ter cars of its day. Now the world’s most fa­mous con­vert­ible spe­cial­ist, Kar­mann, has filed for bank­ruptcy.

How­ever, its cash woes are not ex­pected to af­fect lux­ury brands such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, which had deals with the com­pany for the sup­ply of con­vert­ible roofs.

Kar­mann built its last car, a CLK con­vert­ible for MercedesBenz, last week.

Mercedes-Benz Aus­tralia spokesman David McCarthy says the com­pany’s con­tract with Kar­mann stopped when pro­duc­tion of the CLK con­vert­ible ended.

‘‘I haven’t heard whether the next-gen­er­a­tion E-Class cabrio will be in-house,’’ he says. ‘‘I sus­pect Mercedes will have taken steps to en­sure pro­duc­tion, though.’’

The Stuttgart-based car­maker has some time to find a new sup­plier be­cause E-cabrio pro­duc­tion does not start un­til next year.

Kar­mann also sup­plied roofs for the Mini Cooper Cabrio and BMW 1 Se­ries con­vert­ible, but BMW Aus­tralia spokesman Toni An­dreevski says he doesn’t think sup­ply will be af­fected by the Kar­mann sit­u­a­tion.

Af­ter re­struc­tur­ing its Ger­man op­er­a­tions, Kar­mann will con­cen­trate on build­ing com­po­nents.

Made fa­mous for build­ing the VW Kar­mann Ghia, the com­pany is be­ing forced to re­struc­ture against the back­drop of the global car in­dus­try slump.

‘‘We could no longer avoid shut­ting the as­sem­bly line be­cause auto man­u­fac­tur­ers’ strate­gies have changed,’’ com­pany ad­min­is­tra­tor Ottmar Her­mann says.

The Kar­mann Ghia used a Bee­tle chas­sis and body styled by Ghia. Kar­mann has made more than 3.3 mil­lion con­vert­ibles.

Kar­mann’s North Amer­i­can divi­sion will still pro­vide con­vert­ible roofs for Ford, Chrysler, Gen­eral Motors and Volk­swa­gen.

Hey­day: Kar­mann made more than 3.3 mil­lion con­vert­ibles, in­clud­ing the VW Kar­mann Ghia.

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