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For Karman, see Kármán (disambiguation).
For Volkswagen car, see Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.

Coordinates: 52°15′57″N 8°4′40″E / 52.26583°N 8.07778°E / 52.26583; 8.07778 (Karmann-Werk, Osnabrück)

Wilhelm Karmann GmbH
Type GmbH -
(public limited company)
Founded 1901 (1901)
Headquarters Osnabrück, Germany
Number of locations Osnabrück, Germany;
Rheine, Germany;
Bissendorf Germany;
São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil
Area served Worldwide
Key people Jobst Wellensiek
Chairman of the Supervisory Board
Industry Automotive industry
Products convertible automobiles;
niche vehicles;
convertible roof components
Services Automotive design;
research and development
Divisions Automotive Global Service GmbH, Osnabrueck;
Karmann Engineering-Services GmbH, Bissendorf;
Karmann-Rheine GmbH & Co. KG, Rheine;
Karmann Rheine – Verwaltungs GmbH, Rheine
Karmann-Ghia Żary – Roof Systems, Żary, Poland

Karmann buildings in Osnabrück

Wilhelm Karmann GmbH, commonly known simply as Karmann, in Osnabrück, Germany, was until 2009 the largest independent motor vehicle manufacturing company in Germany. For more than a century, they have undertaken various roles, from design to production and assembly of components, for various automobile manufacturers; including Chrysler, Porsche and Volkswagen Group.

Falling demand drove the Karmann company, along with other financially connected businesses, to file for protective insolvency on 8 April 2009. Insolvency practitioner Ottmar Hermann followed some of the approach seen with the earlier insolvency of Woolworths' German business, and the Karmann business is emerging with little independence, but supported by significant cash investment from long-standing customer Volkswagen.[1][2] Resumption of car production with a new version of the Volkswagen Golf cabriolet is scheduled for March 2011.[2]

Notable programmes

Some of the most well-known cars produced by Karmann in the 20th century are the Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet (1949–1980), and, most closely associated with the Karmann name, the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. Between 1955 and 1974, a total of 443,482 VW Karmann Ghias were manufactured, placing their own sports car-style body on the chassis of the Volkswagen Beetle. Later in the 20th century, they assembled the Scirocco, Corrado, and Golf Cabriolet for Volkswagen. Karmann also built the Ford Sierra for the American market, sold under the Merkur brand by Lincoln/Mercury dealers. Many Karmann produced vehicles carry a small wagon wheel emblem, the coat of arms of Osnabrück, where the company was founded.

Karmann assembled complete knock down (CKD) kits in an agreement with American Motors (AMC).[3] In 1968, AMC introduced the Javelin, a new competitor in the U.S. "pony car" segment. AMC did not have a manufacturing subsidiary in Europe, therefore, Karmann assembled the American designed car for distribution in Europe.[4] Karmann built the cars in Rheine with 280 horsepower (209 kW) 343 cu in (5.6 L) V8 engines and they were named "Javelin 79-K".[5]

Karmann is best known for its work on convertibles/cabriolets. It provides roof-components for many cabriolet automobiles, such as the Mercedes-Benz CLK, the Renault Mégane CC, and the Volkswagen New Beetle Cabriolet.

Both the headquarters in Osnabrück, and the additional facility in Rheine also construct complete vehicles, such as the former Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet, the former Audi A4 Cabriolet, the Mercedes-Benz CLK, and the Chrysler Crossfire. A small number of vehicles are also produced in Brazil São Bernardo do Campo. The Osnabrück facility also produces the chassis and body panels of the Spyker C8 Spyder.

Other facilities at Sunderland UK, Puebla Mexico, and Plymouth Township, Michigan U.S. manufacture roof systems for the Nissan Micra C+C, Volkswagen New Beetle Cabriolet, and Pontiac G6, respectively.

It is one of the only plants that built cars for the second and third-largest North American automakers Ford (along with its now-defunct Merkur luxury brand) and Chrysler.

A large part of the development of the Chrysler Crossfire was done independently by Karmann, and the vehicle was produced at their Osnabrück facility. Karmann U.S. also supplies the top for the third-generation Chrysler Sebring (convertible) and Ford Mustang Convertible.

Karmann total car production

"Javelin/U.S.A. Montage/Karmann" on the cover of a 10-page brochure (multi-language) showing the American car

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Type 34 (1961–1966)

Since its beginning in 1901, Karmann has built more than three million complete vehicles of the models as follows,[citation needed] exceptions as indicated:

car make / type years number of cars comments
AMC Javelin Coupé 1968 300
Audi 80 Convertible 1997–2000 12,112
Audi A4 Cabriolet & Audi S4 Cabriolet 2002–2008 81,959 base: end 2004
BMW 2000 C/CS 1965–1970 13,696 only body in white
BMW 3.0 CS 1971–1975 21,147
BMW 635 CSI 1976–1989 86,314
Chrysler Crossfire Coupé 2003–2008 37,896
Chrysler Crossfire Convertible 2003–2008 16,269
Ford Escort FEC Convertible 1983–1990 104,237
Ford Escort Convertible 1990–1997 80,620
Ford Escort RS Cosworth 1992–1996 8,082
Merkur XR4Ti 1985-1989 42,000 U.S. version of the Ford Sierra XR4i
Land Rover Defender 2002–2005 2,777 in Brazil
Mercedes CLK A208 Convertible 1998–2003 115,264
Mercedes CLK C208 Coupé 2000–2002 28,706
Mercedes CLK A209 Convertible 2003–2008
Nissan Micra C+C 2006 - today
Porsche 356
Porsche 911 1966–1971 911, 911T, and 911E coupes only
Porsche 912 1966–1969 coupe only
Porsche 914 1969–1976 118,949
Porsche 968 1991–1994 11,803 only Body in White
Renault 19 Convertible 1990–1996 29,222 Body in White and soft tops
Renault Mégane I Convertible 1996–2003 74,096 body in white and soft tops
Renault Mégane CC 2004 - today only retractable hardtops
Triumph TR6 1969–1976
Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 1949–1980 331,847
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupé 1955–1974 362,601
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Convertible 1957–1974 80,881
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Type34 1961–1969 42,505
Volkswagen Golf Mk1 Convertible 1979–1993 388,522
Volkswagen Corrado 1988–1995 97,521
Volkswagen Golf Mk3 Convertible 1993–1997 129,475
Volkswagen Golf Mk3 Variant 1997–1999 80,928
Volkswagen Golf Mk4 Convertible 1997–2001 82,588 base Golf Mk3
Volkswagen Scirocco I 1974–1981 504,153
Volkswagen Scirocco II 1981–1992 291,497


The first Karmann motorhomes were launched in 1974 based on the Volkswagen Type 2, and on the late 'Bay Window' chassis. The bodies were of a sandwich structure, the motorhomes had two beds, kitchen, shower, waste water tank, rear body supports, secondary battery, toilet, hot water heater and gas heating. Optional was luggage rack over the driver's cab. Approximately 1,000 units were produced through 1979.

With the introduction of the Volkswagen T3 (Vanagon/Transporter/T25) in 1979, the motorhomes received a permanent overhead area with a bed for two people. Called Karmann Gipsy, 741 were made between 1980 and 1992. This number excludes 30 or more Type 3 Syncro models made between 1986 and 1989, and 7 Syncro 16" models made between 1991 and 1992. An additional 113 Cheetah T3's were manufactured between 1986 and 1990 to make a total 891 Volkswagen T3 Karmann Coachbuilt Motorhomes - all produced in Karmann Rheine factory and not at Osnabruck.

From 1978 to 1996, a total of 3,103 Volkswagen LT based models were produced. These included the LT "M", LT "L 1", LT "L 2", LT "L Distance Wide", LT "L Distance-Wide Gold", LT "H Distance-Wide", LT "H Distance-Wide Gold", LT "S Distance-Wide" and the top-of-the-line LT "Distance-Wide Autovilla".

In 1996, the motorhome design was updated and based on the Volkswagen T4, named Colorado and Missouri. The Volkswagen Transporter (T5) based versions were introduced in 2003.

Current production of car modules

Karmann currently produces car modules for the following vehicles:

  • Roof modules
    • Audi A4 and Audi S4 Cabriolet, 2001
    • Bentley Continental GTC convertible, 2006
    • BMW 1 Series convertible
    • Mercedes CLK convertible
    • Nissan Micra C+C retractable hardtop, 2005
    • Renault Mégane CC retractable hardtop, 2002
    • Volkswagen New Beetle Cabriolet
    • Pontiac G6 retractable hardtop, 2007
    • Chrysler Sebring (convertible) retractable hardtop & convertible softtop, 2007
    • Ford Mustang (convertible), 2007

Former production of car modules

  • Chrysler Crossfire Coupé 2001 - 2007
  • Chrysler Crossfire Roadster 2003 - 2007


On 8 April 2009, Karmann filed for bankruptcy protection due to the sharp decline in demand for cars, and the company's financial obligations.[6] Volkswagen revealed on October 24, 2009, that it had made an offer to acquire long-time partner Karmann.[7] On November 20, 2009 Volkswagen said that it would buy Karmann's site at Osnabrück, to produce a new vehicle. On 4 November 2010 Valmet Automotive signed an agreement to buy Karmann's roof-component sections in Osnabrück, Germany, and Zary, Poland.[8] Karmann's North American operations were sold August 2010 to Webasto Group.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:


  1., Karmann meldet Insolvenz an, 8. April 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 [1], Osnabrücker Zeitung January 2010 (local newspaper report in German)
  3. Mitchell, Larry G. (2000). AMC Muscle Cars. MotorBooks/MBI, 43–44. ISBN 978-0-7603-0761-8. 
  4. Mederle, Wolfgang A. (2005-12-27). "American Motors - 'Der Karmann Javelin'". Retrieved on 2009-07-30.
  5. "1961 to 1970". Karmann Company History. (undated). Retrieved on 2009-07-30.
  6. AP (8 April 2009). "Germany's Karmann Files Bankruptcy". Retrieved on 8 April 2009. [dead link]
  7. "Spiegel Reports (October 24, 2009). "Volkswagen May Take Over Carmaker Karmann". Bloomberg.
  8. "Pontos and Finnish Industry Investment to develop Valmet Automotive with Metso; First step is the acquisition of Karmann´s convertible roof business". (2010). Retrieved on 2010-11-06.

External links