© Malcolm Bobbitt & Veloce Publishing
It is a measure of the Karmann Ghia's success that, within a year of its launch, production figures had more than doubled. It had originally been planned to produce 20 cars a day, which would have resulted in between 300 and 400 cars a month being delivered. This was the summer of 1955 but, by the end of 1956, something approaching 1000 cars were leaving the factory gates each month.
The Karmann Ghia is certainly one of the most charismatic cars of the post-war era, and it encapsulates an exceptional recipe of excellent fundamental engineering and exquisite styling. Its pedigree is there for all to see: Volkswagen precision, with roots far deeper in automobile history than Wolfsburg production, and Italian elegance provided by coachbuilder Ghia of Turin. And all neatly packaged by Karmann's Osnabrück craftsmen.
The name Karmann is, of course, synonymous with Volkswagen, as Wilhelm Karmann was instrumental, at almost the start of that company's post-war car production, in producing for Wolfsburg the Cabriolet version of the ubiquitous Beetle. The link with Carrozeria Ghia resulted in the outstanding Karmann Ghia Coupé, an Italian-styled alternative to the established convertible already on offer.
News of the Karmann Ghia was first reported in July 1955 when it was announced that a Coupé body was to be available for the Volkswagen at Osnabrück, which was already supplying the Beetle's convertible body. Whereas both the standard Beetle and its convertible stablemate boasted of being 4-seater cars, the new Coupé did not pretend to be anything other than a 2+2. The equally elegant Karmann Ghia Cabriolet joined the Coupé some three years later in 1958.
In America - considered probably the car's most important export market - the Karmann Ghia was immediately accepted; the only pertinent criticism seems to be that the car was initially in short supply. It quickly galloped to the top of the import charts, making it the most popular foreign-produced car. In California the Beetle ranked 7th as the most wanted car: quite an achievement in the land of plenty ...
Volkswagen was not alone in looking westward across the Atlantic to North America: both Renault and Fiat regarded the United States as a challenging market, and were considerably successful with their small models. Renault's 4CV heralded the invasion of America, followed by the Dauphine and the pretty Caravelle. Fiat sent shiploads of 600s across the Atlantic, which were later joined by the sporting 850 variants, Cars such as the Volvo 1800 sports Coupé and BMW 700 were, perhaps, not as successful, whilst British manufacturers made a vague attempt at penetrating the American market with, amongst others, the Austin Atlantic.
Karmann Ghia and the Italian connection
As well as producing the convertible variant of the Beetle, Wilhelm Karmann had aspirations to produce a coachbuilt sporting car using standard Volkswagen running gear, but with totally unique body styling. The shape of such a car would be sleek and sensuous, a design in its own right and not merely a conversion of an existing model. Although Wilhelm Karmann died in 1952 at the age of 88, and was therefore denied the opportunity of seeing his dream materialise in its definitive form, his son, also Wilhelm, who inherited the family business and became its chief shareholder, ensured the dream's fruition.
Efforts to pave the way for a true sports car commenced in 1950 when Wilhelm Karmann's son first discussed such a proposal with Heinz Nordhoff. There is evidence that Nordhoff was not particularly impressed, his seeming disinterest stemming from the fact that the Beetle was outstandingly successful and production capacity at Wolfsburg about to be overstretched. With the decision already taken to sub-contract the Cabriolet Beetle, there might have appeared to Nordhoff little point in creating another product whose potential for success could well be questionable.
Heinz Nordhoff's rebuff did not deter Karmann and he tried again and again to persuade Nordhoff to accept his idea. Nordhoff did allow Karmann to submit designs and plans to Wolfsburg, which were then evaluated by Ludwig Boehner (in charge of product development at the Volkswagen factory) and Dr Karl Feuereissen (head of the company's sales and service division),who, together, advised Heinz Nordhoff of the viability or otherwise of a proposed new creation. In addition to drawings, Wilhelm Karmann had scale models made up at Osnabrück, but each time a new design was submitted it failed to secure complete Volkswagen approval.
Wilhelm Karmann's plans at the outset had centred around a stylish Cabriolet and not a Coupé. It is understandable why a Cabriolet was initially envisaged, given that this type of body styling was Karmann's speciality and the company was already producing the convertible Beetle. At the time, Karmann was also producing a convertible version of the DKW, of which almost 7000 examples were built, and a Kombi version of Ford's Taunus, which accounted for some 9000 cars. Had a Coupé been presented to Wolfsburg first, the outcome may have been entirely different.
An important factor in designing a suitable Volkswagen-based sports car was the chassis itself: in his endeavours Wilhelm Karmann had found it difficult to use the platform as a successful base, due almost entirely to its restrictive dimensions, a factor that would become particularly relevant.
Development of the Karmann Ghia took something of a twist when the younger Wilhelm Karmann involved Luigi Segre in the project. Segre, who was commercial director of Carrozzeria Ghia, had become well acquainted with Karmann as a result of both companys' interest in the motor industry. On a particular occasion at one of Europe's motor shows, Karmann was able to discuss his ideas in some depth with Segre and asked him, almost out of desperation, whether his company might prepare a design that would meet with Volkswagen approval. Segre showed more than a degree of interest in the project but did not make a firm commitment to offer his company's assistance or his own expertise on that occasion.
Luigi Segre would, of course, have been aware of the suitability of the Volkswagen chassis and running gear for a sports car; Ferdinand Porsche's own efforts in developing the Volkswagen were well known and the Porsche 356 sports Coupé and Cabriolet, which was based upon the Volkswagen principle, had already been launched to much acclaim. The first that Wilhelm Karmann Senior knew of Luigi Segre's level of interest in his project was when he was invited by Ghia to take a look at something that 'might interest him' ...
What had actually happened was that Segre, on returning to Turin after his initial conversation with Karmann, was to obtain a standard Beetle from the Wolfsburg production line. This was not as straightforward as it might seem as, quite simply, a car was not available. It was obvious a more devious route would be necessary in order to obtain a car and Segre approached Charles Ladouche who, at that time, was concessionaire in France for both Volkswagen and Chrysler. Ladouche, who was known to Wilhelm Karmann, obliged and the car was collected from France during the early part of 1953 and driven to Turin by Gian Paolo Boano, son of Mario Felice Boano. The fact that Ladouche was involved with Chrysler had a bearing on the future of Karmann Ghia, as is revealed in the next chapter.
Luigi Segre, who had plans drawn up at his Ghia studios, had the car prepared by the autumn of 1953, the prototype having taken just five months to build. It was while Wilhelm Karmann was visiting France and staying in Paris that he received the all-important call from Segre. Luigi Segre had the prototype car shipped from the Ghia studios at Turin to Paris, where he and Charles Ladouche presented the design to Karmann. Karmann was amazed at what greeted him; not only was the prototype car beautiful beyond all doubt, but perfectly embodied the theme he had envisaged. What was all the more striking was that Segre's offering was a Coupé and not a convertible, the latter being the only body form Karmann had considered up to that point.
Luigi Segre had given the project to Mario Boano, not as an official contract but as a means of arriving at a design Karmann might consider for future production. Boano had already been heavily involved in producing some spectacular designs for the Italian motor industry, and some of the features found on the definitive car are reminiscent of the Ghia-bodied Alfa-Romeo 6C 2500S and the 1900C Coupé. In developing the Karmann Ghia, Mario Boano also enlisted the help of his son, Gian Paolo, together with Sergio Coggiola who had recently joined the Ghia company. Although Mario Boano supervised the whole affair, much of the detailed drawings were undertaken by Sergio Coggiola. Coggiola's involvement in the project was fortuitous, as he later became chief engineer at Ghia with special responsibility for Karmann's affairs.
How the Karmann Ghia got its ultimate styling is a tortuous essay in mystery and intrigue; many stories abound in the intricate patchwork of automotive history. What makes the issue all the more controversial is the fact that most of the people involved in the affair are now no longer alive ...
A best-kept secret
Early development of the Karmann
Ghia was one of the motor
industry's best-kept secrets: not only did Wilhelm Karmann refrain from telling even his closest colleagues of his discussions with Luigi Segre of Carrozzeria Ghia, but the prototype car was transported around Europe, when need be, concealed within an armoured truck!
Charles Ladouche, who had interests in Volkswagen and Chrysler, was involved in the conception and birth of Wilhelm Karmann's dream car from the outset, along with Luigi Segre and the small but dedicated design team at Carrozzeria Ghia. Volkswagen was kept from knowing of Ghia's involvement with Karmann, although Luigi Segre would almost surely have been aware of Karmann's efforts with Volkswagen before he approached the Turin coachbuilder. Even after Ladouche and Segre presented Ghia's prototype car to Wilhelm Karmann in Paris, it was taken surreptitiously to Osnabrück and concealed in a part of the factory safe from prying eyes.
Once the overall styling was decided, the question of how to adapt the design to the Beetle's restrictive chassis dimensions arose. With this resolved, Heinz Nordhoff and Dr Karl Feuereisen were invited to Osnabrück to view the creation. Nordhoff's reaction was immediate and without hesitation: he realised that what he saw undoubtedly had serious potential for Volkswagen.
The American connection
The exact origin of the Karmann Ghia's styling has always been unclear, and intrigue surrounds the design's key players. Rumours and suppositions abound, but just how the undeniably attractive appearance was arrived at will never be known for sure.
Luigi Segre's early involvement with Charles Ladouche is the first indication that the Chrysler Corporation was connected with the affair. Not only was Ladouche the French agent for Chrysler, but Segre had been involved with the Detroit company, responsible for the styling of an exclusive Coupé. The D'Eelegance, as the Coupé became known, was eventually marketed in France as the GS1 and sold through Ladouche's company, Société France Motors. The cars were built, with the permission of Chrysler, by Ghia in Turin; an association which resulted in some 400 vehicles being delivered.
There was more than just a hint of similarity between the overall styling of the D'Elegance and the Karmann Ghia, although the Chrysler's front-engine configuration meant that its frontal appearance was different and, naturally, the Karmann Ghia was considerably smaller. Both cars shared characteristics such as a large glass area, sharply-raked windscreen and front wing-tops that swept back in an arc, diving to a swage line low on the doors before rising quickly over the rear wheelarches. The D'Elegance's front-mounted engine allowed the car to have fast-back styling, which the Karmann Ghia did not have.
What is of importance is that Ghia was already producing Chrysler's D'Elegance at Turin before Wilhelm Karmann was shown his prototype car. It is questionable why Segre and Ladouche went to the effort of transporting the Karmann Ghia prototype to Paris when it almost certainly would have been far easier for Karmann to travel to Turin. Had Karmann visited Ghia's studio at Turin he could not have missed seeing the Chrysler car in production...
Two leading figures in the affair were Mario Felice Boano and Virgil Exner. Boano, who was head of the Ghia styling house, had already been involved with Chrysler by showing Exner some drawings he had prepared based upon a Plymouth chassis. The invitation to design the prospective vehicle had come from C. B. Thomas, Chrysler's vice president, in 1951, as the car would have been intended as part of the company's export drive. European manufacturers were already queuing at the doors of Carrozzeria Ghia, seeking to produce a specialist alternative to their bread-and-butter models. In his designs Boano embodied all that was current in Italian styling at the turn of the decade. The 'Plymouth affair' was a direct result of Luigi Segre visiting America in an attempt to develop Ghia's business acumen.
Chrysler's corporate styling was largely the responsibility of Vigil Exner. Exner had worked for Chrysler since 1950 but, before that, had been deeply involved with the Raymond Loewy Studios at South Bend, Indiana. His career at the Loewy Studios had involved Exner in the production of the famous and striking Studebaker Champion of 1947, the car which heralded an all-new approach to American auto styling. Chrysler's image changed dramatically once Virgil Exner had time to get established at Detroit: Henry King, the company's chief stylist, had retired, so Exner's influence was allowed to grow. Softer lines incorporating curvaceously-styled front wings, prominent rear wings and huge wrap-around rear windows were all Exner trademarks. Gone also from Detroit was K. T. Keller, Chrysler's President, and with him went the bulbous styling of the '40s.
Luigi Segre had had dealings with Virgil Exner before the Coupé D'Elegance affair. A prototype car, the K310, had followed on the heels of Ghia's preparation of the Plymouth, which had been codenamed XX500. The K310 was a joint effort between Segre and Exner, inspired by Segre and valued by Exner as an example of Ghia's styling ability.
The link between Karmann, Chrysler and Carrozzeria Ghia, therefore, makes it impossible to confidently state from where the Karmann Ghia's styling originated. Virgil Exner certainly claimed that the design presented to Karmann was his and not Ghia's. It would appear that, in designing the D'Elegance, a clay model had been prepared as well as drawings and sent to Ghia at Turin for the company to work on. Exner's own view is that Ghia was having problems finding a suitable design to present to Wilhelm Karmann and, almost as a last resort, scaled down his own design for the D'Elegance. Virgil Exner further claimed that Ghia altered the fine detail in accordance with the stylist's established hallmarks.
Ghia's own interpretation is, as can be expected, quite different. Certainly it is known that Ghia was working on the D'Elegance at the time the Karmann Ghia prototype was being created, but then, of course, the styling company would have been working on a number of different projects. The fact that the end product bore a certain resemblance to the Exner creation was attributed to current styling trends which were being pursued on both sides of the Atlantic.
Whatever actually happened behind closed doors will probably never be fully understood. What is known, however, is that the Karmann design which emerged from Turin was immediately pronounced a classic.
Getting it right
Only after Carrozzeria Ghia had supplied the prototype design to Karmann and negotiated a suitable fee did Wilhelm Karmann involve his colleagues in the project. The revelation of Karmann's behind-the-scenes activities came, quite likely, as something of a shock, although the reasons for the secrecy were understood.
There was every reason for Wilhelm Karmann to keep the project secret from other manufacturers and coachbuilders. Apart from there being a need, in Karmann's view, for keeping the matter of Ghia's involvement from Wolfsburg in case the plan was vetoed by Volkswagen, Karmann was convinced that, should the project fail to materialise, his Osnabrück workforce might suffer some demoralisation.
Ghia's involvment ended, in effect, once Karmann accepted the prototype design. All further evaluation and testing, along with detail design changes, was for Karmann to organize. The length of time between the prototype being delivered to Osnabrück and Heinz Nordhoff and Dr Feuereisen seeing the finished article was only a matter of weeks; Ghia supplied Karmann with the car in September and on 16th November 1953 VW's Nordhoff was pledging unequivocal support for the car's future.
To get the Karmann Ghia into production would obviously take time; a considerable amount of work was necessary to perfect the mechanical design and to carry out the tooling-up process. Wilhelm Karmann, together with Luigi Segre and Charles Ladouche, were keen to have the car ready for the Paris Salon in October 1954 and thereby maximise its success. The Volkswagen management team, cautious as ever, was less than sure about pushing ahead at such speed and preferred to wait until the autumn shows scheduled for the following year. The extra time would not only ensure that the design had been mechanically perfected, but there would be an adequate stock of cars to sell instead of adding to an ever-lengthening waiting list.
The initial post-prototype development period began with a whole series of intensive discussions between Volkswagen and Karmann engineers. The immediate, and most important, task to accomplish was that of adapting the Beetle's chassis to Ghia's design; not easy due to the Volkswagen's inherently narrow platform. To this end some four or five test cars were constructed at Osnabrück, each destined for an arduous and intense testing evaluation.
Usually a motor manufacturer would produce tens of test cars when developing a new model; not so Karmann, whose limited resources did not allow such an outlay. The fact that a maximum of five cars were built for test purposes just goes to illustrate Karmann's somewhat limited resources, compared to volume production manufacturers. It does, however, confirm that the company was, in its own terms, committed in no small way to achieving engineering excellence.
The Beetle's chassis, whilst an ideal base for coachbuilders, did have its limitations for specialised coachwork, and it was this that Karmann engineers tackled initially with the help of Wolfsburg engineers. The chassis had not presented any problems in connection with the Beetle Cabriolet as both Karmann's offering, and Hebmüller's, were very closely related to the original Saloon version. Few chassis offered as much as that of the Volkswagen; a fact borne out by the number of variants and one-off designs which have appeared throughout the car's lifespan.
Essentially, the concept of the Volkswagen Beetle chassis is extremely simple. In reality it consists of two floorpans constructed from pressed steel, connected by means of a central backbone. This is a development from the earliest prototype cars whose chassis were built with wooden floorboards. What is important to understand is that the rigidity of the vehicle is not derived entirely from the chassis spine as it relies equally as much on the body for strength. This is substantiated by problems quickly discovered with the early Cabriolets, which suffered rigidity problems stemming from the fact that they were based on ordinary Saloons that had not only had their roofs removed, but were left without any compensating reinforcement.
One of the main advantages of the Volkswagen chassis is the ease with which it can be separated from the body. In essence, body and chassis are held together by a series of bolts, which number some 30 in total; to undo these is a relatively straightforward process requiring a simple set of tools. Once the body has been removed it is quite possible to propel a chassis under its own power.
Apart from acting as a backbone to the chassis, the central spine also housed the car's
control gear, such as gearchange linkage, handbrake mechanism, accelerator, clutch and choke cables; the fuel line was also located within the backbone but instead of the pipes for the rear brakes being housed within the tunnel, they were positioned alongside it. This principle was also later used in 1955 by Fiat in the rear-engined 600 model which replaced the conventionally driven Topolino.
At the rear of the Volkswagen platform the backbone is divided into two distinct forks, one extending each side of the gearbox assembly. This design of chassis was not entirely new as its origin can be traced back to 1933, when it was first devised for the Tracta.
The front of the gearbox is attached to the hub of the fork while the fork's two prongs terminate alongside the gearbox bellhousing, so forming mountings for the transmission unit. The engine is mounted directly to the gearbox and has no further mountings as such.
When first produced, the Beetle's suspension represented a huge leap forward in technology; the rather primitive springing found on most contemporary cars was replaced by torsion bars and all four wheels were independently sprung. Ride quality was undoubtedly improved and made smooth work of the most uneven surfaces. Little was to change with the Karmann Ghia: at the front, parallel trailing arms and torsion bars were enclosed within transversely mounted tubes, one above the other. The rear suspension again had torsion bars which, this time, were contained in single tubes installed ahead of the gearbox and placed across the chassis. A single trailing arm on each side, attached to the hub assembly and swing axle, formed the springing.
The Volkswagen engine and gearbox followed the relatively simple engineering techniques applied to the chassis construction. Positioned over the rear axle, and designed to provide maximum traction under all circumstances, the engine - an air-cooled, 4-cylinder boxer unit - was built with long life in mind. A two-piece magnesium-alloy crankcase with cast-iron cylinders, aluminium pistons and forged connecting rods was a recipe for success. Along with this was a 4-bearing forged-steel crankshaft with camshaft driven directly from it and operating entirely within the crankcase.
Air-cooled engines, in the main, incorporate an oil cooler within their design and the Volkswagen is no exception. To provide cooling, a large fan, which was mounted directly onto the dynamo and driven by a belt attached to the end of the crankshaft, forced air around the engine, itself surrounded by metal ducting to direct the airflow. Although efficient, air-cooled engines can cause cabin heating difficulties and both the Volkswagen Saloon and Karmann Ghia suffered in this respect. In the Karmann Ghia, air passing over the engine's cooling fins was warmed before being blown through the body sills to filter into the cabin through vents at floor level, as well as to the base of the windscreen. This worked well enough if the engine was clean; if, however, oil or dirt was allowed to build up around the engine, fumes and oily smoke would almost certainly permeate the cabin with nasty consequences. Fortunately, this system of heating was discontinued after 1963 when heat exchangers ensured warmed fresh air entered the car.
Reliability rather than performance was the long-term requirement of the air-cooled boxer engine. That being the case, the Beetle's almost lethargic performance can be understood, as too can the number of tuning conversions which, although not specified by Volkswagen as standard equipment or a factory option, soon became popular! Replacing the simple downdraught carburettor with even the most basic tuning kit allowed noticeably increased power output, and without too much effort it was possible to increase it by something like a third.
From the beginning of production 4-speed gearboxes were standard equipment, but it was not until 1952 that synchromesh was fitted to 2nd, 3rd and 4th ratios on export models. For the standard model, owners had to continue to make do with the familiar 'crash' gearbox. The braking system initially relied upon cable-operated drums for all models and it was only with the appearance of the de-luxe, otherwise known as the export version, that hydraulic brakes became available. Even as late as 1962 the standard model retained outdated cable brakes but, as far as the Karmann Ghia is concerned, the car's mechanical specification was based entirely upon the
The Karmann Ghia's single-circuit hydraulic braking system was quite conventional: the all-round 9 inch (230mm) drum brakes were fitted with a leading and trailing shoe at each wheel and could be manually adjusted by a clamp nut on the rear of the drum; the handbrake, operated by a lever between the seats, acted on the rear wheels only.
The solution, as far as adapting the Beetle chassis to the Karmann Ghia was concerned, was to modify the platform to successfully accommodate Ghia's styling. This was achieved by increasing the platform width by 80mm each side and adding reinforcement to the side members, which were built into place beneath the doors.
These modifications enabled the cabin of the Karmann Ghia to be radically different to that of the Beetle. The seats were lower, altering considerably the driving position and necessitating a change in the angle of the steering column. As a result, the gearchange lever also had to be shortened.
A further modification was the adoption of an anti-roll bar at the front of the car; this amounted to a 12 inch (150mm) stabilizer being attached to the front suspension, linking the two lower trailing arms and anchored in rubber bushes. The ride and handling benefited greatly from this modification which was not added to the Beetle until 1960; the most noticeable improvement was the absence of oversteer, a most typical feature of early Beetles, and elimination of the rather harsh vertical movements of the suspension, mostly experienced on uneven roads at lower speeds. At last the driver could confidently take the car through bends on wet roads without fear of losing rear wheel grip.
There would seem to be some confusion concerning what type of steering mechanism the Karmann Ghia used. From the outset it was of the worm and nut type and utilised unequal length track rods and a transverse link. The steering has often been praised for its precision and lightness, due entirely to its Porsche-designed steering box. This was updated in 1962 to a worm and roller unit which improved the steering still further. Some road test information shows the steering to be of the rack and pinion type, but this is quite erroneous.
The lower profile of the Karmann Ghia, as opposed to the rather upright stance of the Beetle, necessitated some shoe-horning of the engine and transmission unit in order to make it fit under the engine compartment cover. There being no need to alter the way the unit sat over the rear axle, the modification extended only as far as replacing the usual air filter with the type used by the Type 2 VW Transporter. Instead of being positioned at the top of the engine, the filter could be relocated to the left hand side of the unit. The greater width of the Karmann Ghia also enabled the battery to be housed in the engine compartment, to the right of the engine, instead of under the rear seat as on the Beetle, a position which was less than satisfactory but necessary in view of the Saloon's limited engine compartment space.
Like the Beetle, the original Karmann Ghia used 6-volt electrics, a practice more common in Europe than in Britain. The limitations of a 6-volt system will be understood and 12-volt electrics were later adopted.
From the outset the Karmann Ghia was built around standard Volkswagen mechanicals, albeit in export specification. This determined that the more powerful 1192cc engine available from 1954 was employed rather than the original 1131cc unit, which had been introduced for all post-war production cars from 1945. A point of interest is that the 1939 Volkswagen had been specified with an engine of 986cc and originally it was the Schwimmwagen which first received the 1131cc power unit. As in the case of the Beetle, the Karmann Ghia retained the familiar layout of the front-mounted fuel tank and spare wheel ahead of the luggage compartment and between the front wheels. The Beetle always suffered by having very restricted carrying capacity under the front bonnet, a feature not much improved in the Karmann Ghia although accepted by enthusiasts as characteristic of the car.
To suit the sporting image of the Karmann Ghia it was necessary to lower the Beetle's
suspension. This was accomplished by modifications to the torsion bar set and shock absorbers. Overall, the Karmann Ghia utilised the same basic chassis layout and similar components to the standard Volkswagen but, nevertheless, modifications amounted to several hundred differences, most of which could be considered very minor.
Such was the excellence of Ghia's styling that the initial design remained largely unaltered throughout development and into production. Minor detail modifications were made, the most noticeable being to the frontal styling which originally had appeared much more bullet-like than the definitive production car. Initially, the car did not have fresh-air intakes and the indicator lamps were inset in the headlamps, which themselves were slightly different.
Frontal styling was altered by some smoothing-out of the deeply curved front wings which helped to soften the appearance of the headlamps. A revised bumper, which now extended the full width of the car, also incorporated overriders that provided added protection. By relocating the indicators from their inboard position to immediately under the headlights, and adding fresh-air vents to the front panel, the car's appearance was considerably improved. A clever and effective styling touch was shaping the fresh-air vents to echo the overall curvaceousness of the car.
The prototype car had been designed with windscreen wipers which were pivoted at the outer ends of the scuttle; sweeping inwards, the wiper arms settled at the base of the windscreen in a 'cross-over' position. On the definitive car these were replaced with the more conventional arrangement.
The rear styling also received minor detail changes: vents each side of the numberplate were not entirely in keeping with the overall image and were dispensed with. Too intrusive were the cooling louvres punched into the engine compar