• Jun 23, 2009
Karmann throughout the years - Click above for high-res image gallery

Troubled coachbuilder and specialty car manufacturer Karmann has gone dark. The firm's final vehicle – a Mercedes-Benz CLK came off the lines on Monday as the legendary company has been shuttered because of insolvency.

Perhaps best known for its Volkswagen-based Karmann Ghia coupe and convertible (shown above), Karmann has actually produced in excess of 3.3 million automobiles for various automakers – mostly convertibles. In recent times, it's been responsible for assembling cars like the Spyker C8, Audi A4 Cabriolet, Chrysler Sebring Convertible, Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible, and the Pontiac G6 Convertible.

According to German's The Local, Karmann actually "went bust last week," though it still hopes to change its focus to parts production if officials are able to successfully reorganize the firm and stay in business. Unfortunately, finger-pointing between the Osnabrück company's management and its unions is preventing any sort of restructuring, let alone a quick turnaround.

The company's 2,240 workers have all apparently been given notice, and their benefits plans will likely be eliminated. Check out more details at the link below and peruse a high-res gallery of Karmann's vehicles (including some of its concept cars) by clicking on the thumbnails below. Thanks for the tip, Gregg.



[Sources: The Local; StraitsTimes]


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  • 20 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sad to see such a storied name go away. The woman in photo number one? Hot.
      • 5 Years Ago
      There was a saying about Karmann in the early days:

      "Karmann invented rust and then licensed the process to the Italians"

      All kidding aside - they will be missed - with the exception of the Sebring, of course...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I actually have 2 cars that came out of that plant. A 72 Porsche 914 and a Crossfire SRT-6....sad day indeed
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sad news.. they built my Escort too
      • 5 Years Ago
      For someone like me who has lived in Osnabrueck for more than 10 years this is a very, very sad day. Karmann had superb engineers, very high quality assembly lines but - sadly - a bad position in the global market... And sometimes just bad luck, e.g. when they completely lost the eos (first the car assembly, then even the roof - where vw decided to buy the crappy webasto roof - which sucked).

      All the best to the great people who have been working at Karmann - and of course - to the remaining personnel!
      • 5 Years Ago
      To mirror Zamafir above, it is indeed sad new and a sad end to this company's history. And based on reports of friction between managment and the unions, I suggest folks start wearing googles to keep from getting an eye put out from all of the finger-pointing.

      So long, Karmann. Perhaps we'll meet again.


      • 5 Years Ago
      As a VW owner I am truly truly saddened to see Karmann go. What was once the greatest of the coach builders is alas no more. Prost Karmann!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Anyone know what car is in pic#2 of the gallery?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Karmann Ghia: thumbs up

      Sebring Convertible: two thumbs WAY down. Ugh. Isn't it the least reliable, worst-fit-and-finish car available in North America?

      The rest of their products are pretty solid, but I can't help but wonder if the Sebring has something to do with their demise.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They only built the roof, which is the most reliable aspect of the whole car. They are not responsible for the debacle that came out of Auburn Hills. That turd rest solely on the shoulders of the DCX folks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        evilspoons:

        "Sebring Convertible: two thumbs WAY down. Ugh. Isn't it the least reliable, worst-fit-and-finish car available in North America?"

        No it's not. Fit and finish are middle of the road. Relaibility is probably average (but the Chrysler brand is rated more reliable than the Mercedes brand in the latest JD Powers 3 year reliability survey). The car is panned because it's an ugly incoherrant design and the interior is cheap (and ugly). The driving dynamics aren't great but they seem worse than they are because your brain is assaulted by the bad exterior and interior.
        • 5 Years Ago
        My understanding is that the vast majority of the Sebring Convert's issues are directly related to the Karmann supplied top.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's that German high quality for you. They can design a car, just not test it apparently. Every German make save Porsche is an electronic nightmare, with reliability aspiring to the level of a Yugo. And Porsche isn't all that grand.

        I used to know a woman who bought a new MB every year, simply because the old ones spent so much time in the shop. She never did realize that maybe she should have gone with a better automaker.

        Her husband bought a new Porsche Cayenne for much the same reason.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As a VW Corrado owner (designed and built by Karmann!) I've been fortunate enough to visit Karmann in Osnabruck a number of times over the years with German speaking friends who have contacts within Karmann.. all the folks we met (who worked on cars like the Scirocco and the Corrado) were so passionate about them and the company they work(ed) for. We heard so many great stories about the relationship between VW & Karmann, etc.

      Karmann will continue to exist making roof systems but certainly as that company which owned their enormous plant in Osnabruck they are no more. It's really, really tragic.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Unfortunate...

      Have to drive my Merkur XR4Ti and remember the good days of Karmann
      • 5 Years Ago
      My dad had an A4 drop top (pictured in gallery) for 2 years, and the roof was never anything but trouble. Constant electronic issues, stopping halfway between up and down and getting stuck, demister failures... I never new it was Karmann engineered.

      But that Karmann Ghia in the first pick is my dream car, which makes the girl standing next to it automatically my dream girl.
        • 5 Years Ago
        As someone who has lived in Osnabrueck/Germany (hometown of Karmann), I really *had* to buy the A4 convertible in fall 2002, it was a multitronic diesel (uncommon I know, but solid machine). And that car was the single best car I ever owned (drove it for three years). Not a single issue with it. I still miss my good old A4 cab these days...

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