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Sunday, May 5, 2024

Evolution from Karmann Ghia: How the VW Cheetah Transformed into the Fiat X1/9

Lost in Time - In the realm of automotive history, nestled among the familiar names and celebrated models, lies a hidden gem: the Fiat X1/9. While it may not enjoy the same spotlight as its counterparts, this unique vehicle holds a story worth telling.
The 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Cheetah concept car designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro at ItalDesign, based on a shortened 1963 Karman Ghia Type 14 chassis. (Picture from: Pinterest)
The genesis of the Fiat X1/9 traces back to the creative endeavors of Giorgetto Giugiaro, a visionary designer who sought to carve a niche in the automotive world. It was a time when the echoes of the Karmann Ghia still reverberated, and Giugiaro embarked on a mission to craft a worthy successor. This journey of innovation commenced shortly after the unveiling of the Type 34 in 1961.
The 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Cheetah concept car, inspired by the Beetle, featured a 1.6-liter boxer engine producing 50 horsepower. (Picture from: Hog Troglodyte in Flickr)
fertile imagination bore fruit a decade later with the introduction of the Volkswagen Karmann Cheetah (just like Lamborghini's unfortunate military project) Aptly named, this concept car emerged from the crucible of Giugiaro's newly established design studio, Italdesign, following his departure from Ghia. Drawing inspiration from the Beetle, the Cheetah boasted a 1.6-liter boxer engine, delivering a modest 50 horsepower at its zenith.
The 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Cheetah concept car features a soft-top roof with a wide sunroof panel above the cockpit, elegantly sweeping along the bodywork and neatly tucking between the seats. (Picture from: Hog Troglodyte in Flickr)
Despite its undeniable charm, adorned with pop-up headlamps and the promise of open-top motoring, the Cheetah failed to secure Volkswagen's endorsement. The dream of mass production remained elusive, a tantalizing vision that never materialized. Yet, amidst this setback, a glimmer of hope emerged.
Despite its charm with pop-up headlamps and open-top allure, the Cheetah failed to win Volkswagen's endorsement. (Picture from: Hog Troglodyte in Flickr)
A year after its unveiling at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, Bertone stepped into the fray, breathing life into Giugiaro's vision. The Fiat X1/9 emerged as the tangible embodiment of his automotive philosophy. Retaining the essence of the Cheetah while undergoing refinement and adaptation, it captured the hearts of enthusiasts worldwide.
Today, the Fiat X1/9 stands as a testament to the power of perseverance and innovation. Its journey from concept to reality is a testament to the indomitable spirit of automotive design. Though it may dwell in the shadows cast by its more illustrious peers, its legacy endures, a beacon of inspiration for generations to come. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | JALOPNIK | VIRTUAGARAGE ]
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