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Auto blogTue, 20 Aug 2013 17:41:00 EST
Volkswagen's product portfolio may be as extensive these days as any other carmaker in the business. But if you still think of the original Beetle as synonymous with the brand, that's probably because a) you're old and b) the Beetle was the company's only product until the mid-50s.
Sixty years ago Wilhelm Karmann (founder of the eponymous coachbuilder) was in Paris for the auto salon and met up with Luigi Segre and his team from Carrozzeria Ghia who showed him what was essentially a "Beetle in a sports coat." A month later they showed it to Volkswagen chief Heinrich Nordhoff who, setting aside his conservative tastes, approved it for production. And so the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia was born, giving the German marque a second product line. It still used Beetle mechanicals and was built at the same Karmann factory in Onsabrück that was already assembling the Beetle Cabriolet.
It took another couple of years to put the design into production, but from 1955 to 1974, Volkswagen and Karmann built 362,601 coupes and 80,881 of the subsequent convertible that arrived in 1957. Today the Onsabrück factory is part of the VW Group, handling production of the Golf Cabriolet, XL1 and Porsche Boxster and Cayman, and with that original Karmann Ghia prototype as part of its factory collection.
We've returned from a very busy week in Switzerland, and in going back over all of our 75 stories from the Geneva Motor Show, our editors have gathered up their personal favorite debuts from the European expo.
The wonderful thing about the Geneva show is just how wide of an array of vehicles are on display - everything from funny little one-off EVs to the most exotic of supercars to, well, truly ridiculous displays of coachbuilding. And because of that, this list of our editors' favorites might not be as predictable as you think.
But we don't want to give anything away just yet. Scroll down to have a look at our team's favorites from Geneva.
Michael Andretti and Volkswagen have both been involved in Global Rallycross for a couple of years, but not together. Andretti Motorsports Marketing organized the final round of the 2012 GRC series in Las Vegas, and there were rumors then that Andretti was going to get in. Around the same time there were news reports that Volkswagen was preparing a 600-hp Polo Mk5 to race in the SuperCar class; the photo above is racer Anton Marklund in his privateer Marklund Motorsports Polo at the 2013 X-Games round in Los Angeles.
Now it's official: Andretti Autosport will campaign the 2014 GRC season with VWs. That's all that's been said for now, Andretti being busy at the moment launching four entries for IndyCar, two for Indy Lights and two for Pro Mazda. We have a feeling we'll be seeing the MkVII Golf involved, but the cars and the driver lineup will be presented at the Chicago Auto Show on February 6.