Since the odd looking Volkswagen Beetle convertible appeared in 1949, more than 200,000 were sold in the United States. Sales of the sleeker Karmann Ghia convertible, starting in 1957, added another 50,000 ragtops to the sales tally. And since some of these classic German bugs are still in the hands of collectors, if not in daily driving service, a subsidiary of their original maker thinks there’s money to be made repairing, restoring or customizing them.
While these kinds of services have long been the province of aftermarket specialty shops and Volkswagen dealers, Karmann Classics in Plymouth, Michigan, will use the cachet of its long standing reputation as one of the largest convertible makers in the world to break into the business.
“Thinking small,” like one of VW’s early advertising campaigns, the company will solicit customers from a four-state region of the Midwest (Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio), as well as convertible owners in Ontario, Canada. During its launch phase, Karmann Classics will have the capacity to work on three to four vehicles at a time. The company plans to expand nationwide and eventually will provide restoration services for all convertibles. Karmann Classics is also working with local VW dealerships, to help them handle vehicle restoration.
“As the original manufacturer of the VW Karmann Ghia and VW Beetle convertible, Karmann is uniquely positioned to rebuild convertible roof systems for these vehicles,” says Erik Roeren, president and CEO of Karmann USA. “We believe there will be considerable demand for Karmann Classics’ services.” (more…)