Famous soft-top shop folds
A famed convertible company falters, writes NEIL McDONALD
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.