Eight Great Volkswagen-Italdesign Collaborations

1971 Volkswagen Karmann Cheetah
In the early 1970s, German coachbuilder Wilhelm Karmann GmbH was already responsible for building the slinky Karmann Ghia and drop-top Beetles for Volkswagen -- but it also helped build a small, conceptual sports car for VW and Italdesign.

As was the case with the Karmann Ghia, the coachbuilder had virtually no say in the Cheetah project. The sleek, angular lines -- fitted over a modified Beetle floorpan -- were entirely the product of Giugiaro's imagination. Karmann did, however, have a part when it came time to design the roof. A soft top, which sported a translucent sunroof panel over the cockpit, slid down the length of the car's sidebows and could be neatly tucked between the seats.

Obviously, the Cheetah never made it into production -- a pity, for Fiat found a fair amount of success with its Bertone-styled X1/9 facsimile, which came to market a year after the Cheetah premiered at the 1971 Geneva motor show.

The front of the car doesn't look very "pedestrian-friendly". If someone was hit by the car, the injuries would be serious. It would be surprising if European regulations didn't outlaw such a configuration. Furthermore, it really isn't an aerodynamically advantageous; a small change is relative wind could cause the car to lift, as been the case with many race cars, even at moderate speeds.

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