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‘Beautifully detailed and strikingly handsome, the Tye 34 was VW’s most expensive car in the Sixties’ Some cars just suddenly look hot, and the razor-edge Type 34 Karmann Ghia has become one of them. Like a cross between a Corvair and a 356, the chiselled VW has graduated into classic BMW and Porsche territory.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationSCHMOOTH KARMANN GHIA HYGIENICALLY CLEAN VW COUPE
/ #VW-Karmann-Ghia / #Volkswagen-Karmann-Ghia / #Volkswagen / #Karmann-Ghia / #Karmann / #Ghia
/ #Volkswagen-Karmann-Ghia-Typ-14 / #Volkswagen-Typ-14 / #VW-Karmann-Ghia-Typ-14 / #VW
VW Karmann Ghia You’d be hard pushed to find another Karmann Ghia as spotless as this one. In fact, we had to go all the way down under to check out what has to be the cleanest on the planet.
RETRO RIDE: KARMANN GHIA / WORDS: Daniel Bevis / PHOTOGRAPHY: Ben Hosking
Pat Eung’s Karmann is an exercise in emphasising the timeless prettiness of the Ghia form. But look closer and you’ll see a few modern tricks…
Even the engine bay is absolutely spotless.
Like photosynthesis or the patterns of the tides, modifying Volkswagens is one of those universal constants. It’s just something that happens. For as long as there have been aircooled VWs in the world, there have been people champing at the bit to customise them, from the inception of the Type 1 (which you may variously know as the Beetle, Käfer, Coccinelle, Fusca... you name it) through the enduring cult of the Type 2 (aka Kombi, Transporter, Microbus, Camper) and every other model on the spectrum. There’s nothing that hasn’t been done to them – dragsters, lowriders, race cars, surf wagons, every conceivable style exists within the VW scene.
Nowadays of course the watercooled VeeDub scene is equally massive, and it’s leading the charge in the modern repurposing of the word ‘stance’. If you want to see what’s hot in the world of high-end wheels and low-down suspension, you look to the VW crowd.
Naturally there are always cars that offer a bridge between the two eras of the VW modding carnival, fusing old and new, aircooled and watercooled, smashing styles together like tiny particles at CERN. There’s a VW K70 doing the rounds that’s been bodydropped over a Passat W8 chassis, a Mk1 Golf rocking aircooled Beetle running gear. All sorts. But perhaps one of the most cohesive and aesthetically joyful offerings is the car you see before you here, Pat Eung’s 1967 Karmann Ghia. It simultaneously shimmers with the memories of SoCal circa 1975, and lassos a knapsackful of cues from the modern stop-drop-and-roll Golf kaleidoscope. And while the Beetle and Microbus are such iconic silhouettes that pretty much everybody in the world would probably be able to recognise them, the Karmann Ghia is something rather more offbeat.
“The reason I chose it is that the first time I saw one, I assumed it was a Porsche,” Pat admits. Although, to be fair, there’s more than a little shared DNA between Porsche and VW, so such a guess isn’t too much of a stretch.
The Karmann Ghia was one of those good ideas that we can all be thankful was pushed into existence. Fusing the bombproof aircooled underpinnings of the VW Beetle with an achingly gorgeous body styled by Ghia’s Luigi Segre, the hand-built coupé was a runaway success. It quickly became the USA’s biggest automotive import of its time, and the global production figure topped 445,000 in its 19-year run.
“THE KARMANN GHIA IS SOMETHING RATHER MORE OFFBEAT”
Okay, they weren’t quick. But they were easily tuneable, although the model was always meant to be more of a boulevard cruiser than a sports car. And that’s a brief that, as standard, it fulfils perfectly. These things operate on a sliding scale though, don’t they?
“I bought the KG because I saw my watercooled VW, a Passat CC, rapidly devaluing, while the insurance was going up,” says Pat. “It seemed a bit crazy, so I bit the bullet and bought something desirable that I could ultimately hand down to my son one day. It was restored by a retired engineer in the States who worked on it out of passion, and modified it to his liking. When I first had it imported over to Australia, I was only really planning on lowering it… How wrong I was!”
Indeed, there have been a fair few changes made to the car under Pat’s tenure, many of which are hiding under the skin beneath that flawless Polar Silver paint. But let’s look at the suspension first, shall we, given that it was priority number one in the grand plan?
Rather than go down the old-school route of drop spindles and what-have-you, Pat’s opted to employ the ever-so modern method of air-ride. Okay airride’s actually been around since World War Two. But you can’t deny it’s the darling of the stance scene these days. So it’s that the car borrows heavily from its younger VW brethren, by running Monroe air shocks at the front and a Limebug air-ride kit with Air Lift bags at the rear – to get the thing sitting snake’s-belly low on the showground, while also letting Pat keep his sump intact should he happen across a speed bump.
Speaking of sumps, let’s take a peek under that engine decklid. Remember how we were talking about the Ghia being a boulevard cruiser? Not so much here. “It’s running a Porsche 914 2.0-litre motor,” says Pat. “The internals are largely stock, but there’s a mild cam in there and it’s fuelled by twin Weber 40IDAs.” The performance figures may not look massive on paper, but as a percentage gain it’s really quite phenomenal.
A stock KG would offer somewhere south of 50bhp, while this 914 unit provides a dyno-certified 73bhp. Feisty, huh? In order to ensure that these newfound avenues of performance potential were easily mineable, the stock 1600 transmission was rebuilt with Freeway Flyer gears and a short-shift, while a rebuilt Airkewld steering box found its way up front. In combination with the top-flight air-ride setup and a beefed-up braking system (DBA front discs, and an Empi conversion to discs at the rear too), the refined chassis and Porsche flat-four now work in perfect harmony to keep this shimmering butterfly of a car streamlining along as it should.
With the go and the show taken care of – along with the stop, the sway, and plenty of wahey – the final piece of the puzzle was the interior. Pat’s had the stock seats retrimmed in a tasteful two-tone fusion of black vinyl and brown tweed, topping things off with a classy old-school Porsche-sourced Mota-Lita steering wheel. Timeless stuff, although again it’s interesting to note that Porsche accessories and tweed trim are heavy-hitters on the watercooled scene… further evidence of Pat’s over-arching artistic vision. And while the exterior is an exercise in textbook Karmann Ghia class, from the Euro bumpers to the custom front airdam, it’s the wheels that really are the cherry on the fusion-cooking cake: Schmidt TH Lines, as you’d expect to see on a slammed Polo or somesuch, but cunningly narrowed to fi t into the aircooled logic sphere.
What Pat’s achieved with this project is to harness the spirit of his more modern VWs and infuse it into a retro Dub platform; old school, new rules – and by keeping it all relatively restrained, the more outrageous features really shine through. As a family legacy, we imagine his son can’t wait to grow up and grab the keys.
DRIVER: PAT EUNG
What was the hardest part of the build? “The air-ride! Despite being a bolt-on kit, there were a lot of modi¬fications and tinkering to make it work. The wheels cost a fortune as they had to be rebuilt to ¬ t in with the suspension!”
What part of the build was the most enjoyable? “Again, the wheels and air-ride. As much as it was a headache, it was well worth it seeing people’s reactions to the end result. I took a gamble on the wheel choice, but it paid off.” Is there anything you’d do differently if you were to do it all over again?
“I would have taken it straight to Mike at CBB Tuning from the start. It would have saved me a lot of the hassle I had with other mechanics!”
Any modern extras are perfectly hidden away. We’re loving the custom tweed too!
Pat’s wheels neatly reflect this Karmann Ghia’s fusion of old and new, taking a design that’s popular and desirable in the watercooled scene and rebuilding it to aircooled specs. He began with a set of 8x17-inch Schmidt TH Lines, and artfully readjusted them to fit the bagged Ghia chassis. The rears have been barrelled down just a smidge to a slightly less arch-troubling 7-inch width, but the fronts are the real showstoppers: they measure an almost dragsterlike 4.5x17-inches, tucking perfectly into the front wings and giving a real nu-wave/retro vibe. The widths are classic, the diameter distinctly modern.
They certainly don’t come any cleaner than this.
TECH SPEC: Karmann Ghia
TUNING #1974 #Porsche-914 2.0-litre flat-four, fully rebuilt, stock internals, mild cam, twin #Weber 40IDFs, Pertronics electronic points, electric fuel pump, #Vintage-Speed Type IV extractor system and Type 1 exhaust, stock gearbox rebuilt with Freeway Flyer gears, Vintage Speed short-shift.
CHASSIS 4.5x17in (front) and 7x17in (rear) #Schmidt-TH-Line Lines, 165/40 (front) and 195/40 (rear) Nankangs, DBA front discs, #EMPI rear disc conversion, early short axle, #Monroe air shocks, #Limebug rear air suspension kit, #AirLift bags, #Airkewld steering box.
EXTERIOR Polar Silver paint, perfected by Elite Body Repairs, Euro bumpers, custom aluminium airdam and grille.
INTERIOR #Moto-Lita Porsche steering wheel, seats retrimmed in custom black vinyl and brown tweed by Sewfine, #VDO gauges, Pioneer headunit with custom speakers in rear.
THANKS All the guys from Liverpool Harry’s for all their help and support – especially Rick and Ali. My wife Ley for putting up with my expensive habits and turning a blind eye most of the time!Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCool orange VW, my regardsStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation2015 #KG-AUTO #VW-Karmann-Ghia-Cabriolet / #VW-Karmann-Ghia / #Volkswagen-Karmann-Ghia-Typ-14 / #VW-Typ-14 / #Volkswagen / #Karmann #Ghia
Some #VW enthusiasts will go to extraordinary lengths to secure the classic of their dreams, and Warwick Wrangles is no exception. His automatic KG cabriolet took over three decades to find, and not even a litany of rust and panel woes would ever make him give it up...
As a teenager growing up in the late 50s and early 60s, Warwick Wrangles was immersed in Volkswagen’s glory years in Australia.
Volkswagen had already established a factory at Clayton in Melbourne, and Australians were spoilt for choice with the latest air-cooled offerings from the German car maker. Warwick’s family and friends were among those caught up in the VW craze, with a succession of Beetles and Kombis parked in the driveway and used as the family car and weekend escape vehicle. In 1961 his mum and dad bought a brand new Beetle with the registration HDC-927. The family referred to the bug as Hot Dog Cart, and his father even joked that VW stood for Von Wrangles.
In 1967 Warwick followed suit and bought his first Volkswagen, an Australian manufactured 1300 Deluxe. Sadly he only kept the car for a couple of years before trading it on something ‘sportier’. Through the 70s and 80s he was without a VW, but he enjoyed the company of friends who were passionate about the marque. A fishing mate owned a Kombi Camper with a wild Webber motor, that had heaps of torque and rescued many a boatie who had backed their trailer off the bottom of the ramp. Warwick borrowed this Kombi a couple of times to go camping, and even though these bricks on wheels proved versatile, it was not the VW model Warwick finally settled on. His fishing friend also happened to own a #Karmann-Ghia cabriolet, and it was the one and only drive of this soft top that made a lasting impression on Warwick. From that day forward a Ghia Cabriolet was the ultimate Wrangles’ VW.
In 1990 it was not a Ghia, but the original #1961 family Beetle that came into his possession. His parents gave it to him after something broke (Warwick can’t recall what, but his parents did not wish to fix it). The plan was to restore the bug, and with sons of his own, he and the boys began to visit a few VW shows and read every VW publication available at the time. Coincidentally, Warwick also worked in the toy industry, and naturally began to amass a sizeable collection of VW die cast cars and some radio controlled Beetles, a collection which he still has today. The family driveway also began to fill with life-size VWs, with his eldest son purchasing a 1500 Squareback and a #1966 #VW-Type-34 shell towed home for a planned restoration. Unfortunately, both cars were sold for a hot Torana, and the Wrangles’ household were once again VW poor.
A job change, a move to Qld and a serious accident in 1992, dampened, but did not deter Warwick’s car passion. The planned restoration of the 1961 bug had been quashed when Warwick’s sons decided it would look better as a buggy and was subsequently wrecked (another story). So in 1996 he purchased a stick shift 1972 Superbug that he could drive and enjoy in light of his injuries. The ‘72 performed the daily driver role admirably, but his heart was still set on a Ghia Cabriolet, automatic no less. Did such a rare beast exist? Indeed one did, and Warwick remembers the exact day he spotted the Ghia cabriolet with the VW Automatic script on the decklid - 10th July 1998.
The Cabriolet was parked outside a Japanese restaurant in Broadbeach, and Warwick left a note under the windscreen wiper asking if the owner wanted to sell it. As luck would have it, the owner rang him back that same day and explained he had just bought another car and the Ghia was for sale. Warwick went straight back to the restaurant car park, took the KG for a drive and settled on a price right there and then.
For all intensive purposes the Cabriolet looked immaculate, and for some years it maintained that allure, until bubbles began to appear and paint started flaking off. Warwick suspected the bubbles and flaking paint were hiding more than just a quick fix, and with his wife Trish insisting that he have the car fixed so he could enjoy it, he decided the car should be professionally repaired. As an avid reader of VWMA, Warwick was impressed with the work of Alan Agyik and the team at Das Resto Haus, so after an introduction and a visual inspection of the car, Alan and Warwick agreed that Das Resto Haus would take up the challenge. And what a challenge it became.
After a strip and blast (which included unpicking the chassis from the floorpan which had been welded together), the Ghia revealed every panel was either riddled with rust or had been subjected to poor repair work. The Ghia had also been a left hand drive originally, and the conversion was poorly done. Added to this was extensive accident damage to the left rear and front right. The body was teetering on the edge of a basket case, and the bill to repair it would be quite substantial. After discussing alternative strategies including starting with a better LHD shell from overseas, Warwick took a leap of faith and asked Alan to work with what he had brought him. And so it began.
Brad Condran and Barry Thompson were given the task of repairs, with Brad largely doing most of the fabrication work. A cabriolet always presents an extra level of difficulty due to the additional strengthening panels and sections used to reinforce the body, and the blast revealed that most of these inner, hidden strengthening sections would either need replacing or repairing. The list included, but was not limited to the lower sections of both doors, the bonnet (badly warped from previous repair work), left hand side rear quarter, inner guard and engine bay surround, both inner and outer sills and B-pillars, left hand c-pillar, heater channels, both front guards, especially the right guard, along with both headlight buckets, wheel well, rear cargo floor and firewall and both pan halves replaced. The right hand drive conversion also had to be improved. In total well over 70% of the Ghia needed new, fabricated or repaired metal. The Ghia was essentially a new car.
There were times during the metal and rust repair work when even Warwick doubted his original decision, but the work that Alan and his teamed performed on the Ghia is nothing short of remarkable. The Ghia is now perfectly aligned and all the gaps are uniform and correct tolerance. Most of the repair work is better than from the factory, and Warwick can rest easy knowing that the Ghia will last well beyond another Wrangle generation. To celebrate the re-birth, Warwick chose not to stay with the black at the time of purchase, but rather paint the cabriolet in the original colour L20E Signal Orange. This colour certainly announces its arrival wherever it goes.
The 1600 twin port engine and semi-auto transmission were both rebuilt, but remain stock, although the muffler and heater boxes were ceramic coated for longevity. All the running gear was refurbished, with the stock width beam receiving adjusters and the brakes swapped for new items with Porsche 5x130 stud pattern to accept chrome Porsche 911 alloys, 15x4.5 and 15x5.5 front and rear respectively wrapped in Yokohama Blue Earth 185/65 R15 rubber. Resetting the height was a slight challenge, as the KG comes factory with double IRS spring plates. Alan had to fabricate a spring plate adjusting tool to allow him to reset the rear torsion bars one spline.
The sensational interior was the work of Willem Roozendaal of Platinum Trimming. The seats and door cards are wrapped in Austex Pellan Ultimate in a colour called Mondo. Accented by orange stitching the seats are almost too good to sit on. Toast Bake carpet creates a wonderful contrast, and the Oyster Hood came from Robbins in the US and was trimmed by Willem to fit perfectly. Willem also created the custom gear shift boot which incorporates zips so that, if needed, access to the auto stick shift electrics is made easier. The steering wheel is the original, as are the gauges, but Warwick has plans to refurbish the gauges when time allows. A new loom with some additional custom wiring was plumbed in.
Not that Warwick meant to count the days, but as the Ghia continued to throw up unexpected challenges, the whole process from strip to street took 2 years, 10 months and 8 days. The bank balance also took a hit, beyond what the car could ever be sold for, but Warwick has no intention of parting with his auto treasure. Hindsight being what it is, Warwick admits changing tack after the sand blast may have been the better option, and even though Alan believes this KG hates him, the final product is beyond his wildest expectations. There was a lot of pain and anguish to present the Cabriolet in all its Signal Orange glory, but when the VW Automatic script was eventually returned to its rightful decklid place, the joy of driving his lifelong obsession quickly surpassed what had gone before. It was worth the effort.
What had they started..? ..the one and only drive of the KG set Warwick’s mind...
// Find the full resto photos at #Drive-My Cars Clubs //Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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