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Volkswagen Karmann Ghia: Buying guide and review (1955-1974)

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia: Buying guide and review (1955-1974) Classic and Performance Car
Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
German automotive company Karmann had a long history of working on niche projects with mainstream automotive manufacturers, and during the 1950s became involved in the manufacturing of the convertible Beetle. They started looking into the viability of producing a stylish sports car on similarly proven mechanicals, and having discussed styling designs with Italian specialists Ghia, Dr Wilhelm Karmann approached VW. Company bosses quickly green-lit the project, and in 1955 the Luigi Segre-styled Type 14 Karmann Ghia was launched.

The public immediately took a liking to these beautiful machines. With basic Beetle underpinnings the initial versions were no ball of fire, but continual development and incremental refinement kept the Karmann Ghia popular with customers the world over throughout its production run. 

1961 saw the introduction of the Type 34 Karmann Ghia, which was a larger car styled by Sergio Sartorelli and based on the Type 3 VW chassis. This model was sold alongside the original Karmann as a more luxurious alternative. A high price and the decision not to sell it in the US limited the car’s numbers. They were only available as Coupes and due to their rarity are valued by collectors the most today.

Today this interesting classic has developed a loyal group of enthusiasts, who value the unique characteristics of these sporty little cars.
 
Which one to buy?
 
If you are looking for speed then this is not the car for you. The Beetle based underpinnings, even in 1600cc form, provide leisurely acceleration at best. What this car is about is stylish transport, providing its thrills at a more relaxed pace. The Karmann Ghia received numerous updates and improvements throughout its long 19-year production run, but some of the key changes include the 12-volt electrical system from 1967-on and independent rear suspension on all models built after 1969. 

There were a whole host of styling changes, which still divide Karmann Ghia fans to this day. From a practical standpoint, the Type 14 models built in either 1960 or 1967 model year had a lot of bespoke parts, so make sure that if you buy one of these models it is in complete condition.

The Type 34, introduced in 1961 was aimed further upmarket and offered more standard kit and more interior space at a higher cost. Based on the Type 3 chassis it offered more modern suspension and luxury extras such as an electric sunroof and plusher interior trim and seats. Higher pricing limited uptake, and it was less successful than the original versions, ending production in 1969.

There were approximately 444,000 Karmann Ghias produced, and thanks to the wide availability of parts and the popularity of the cars there are still a large number around today. As is expected of the classic VW scene, modified Ghias are very common, with many owners choosing to upgrade engines and suspension. Body panels are the one thing that can be expensive to get hold of, and it’s therefore key to watch out for are cars that are too far gone or damaged beyond economical repair. Interiors and engines can be repaired far more cost effectively than a rusted through body shell.

Becoming a member of the GB Karmann Ghia owners Club is an excellent way to get access to a whole host of information on the cars themselves as well as the best places to source parts and trim.
 
Performance and specs
 
1965 Karmann Ghia 1300
Engine 1285cc, 8valve OHV flat-four 
Power 39bhp @ 4000rpm 
Torque 68lb ft @ 2000rpm
Top speed 80mph 
0-62mph 27.0 seconds 
Fuel consumption 31.2mpg 
Gearbox Four-speed manual
 
Dimensions and weight
 
Wheelbase 2400mm
Length 4140mm
Width 1634mm
Height 1330mm
Weight 830kg
 
Common problems
 
• Interiors can get into bad condition over the years, but if the car is in otherwise good shape then do not worry. car should not dissuade you from making a purchase. Trim is readily available and entire seat and dashboard re-trims are far less costly than extensive body or mechanical work. 

• Mechanically the Type 14 Ghias are almost 100 per cent Beetle underneath. This means reasonable prices parts and good availability. Front brake discs on models built from 1967 onwards are the only item that is not interchangeable with an equivalent era Beetle.

• Type 34 Karmann Ghia’s were based on the newer Type 3 chassis and are mechanically identical to other Type 3 chassis cars, which included the 1500cc and 1600cc Notchback and Fastback VWs of the same era. As in the older Karmann Ghia the newer Type 34 has unique interior trim and bodywork compared to other VW models.

• A Ghia’s bodywork is where you should focus your attentions when assessing the viability of a purchase. Rust or damage on a number of panels may make financially viable restoration impossible. 

• Check the rocker panels for corrosion; this is especially important on convertibles as strengthening beams run through this area providing structural integrity

• Other areas to inspect include the rear boot lid, spare tyre well and around the battery, where spilt acid can cause corrosion over time. 

• Rocker panels for Type 14 Ghias, once unavailable, are now available so rust here is not as terminal as it used to be.

• Check for signs of accident damage by looking at badly repaired panels or shoddy paintwork. Bumpers can be tough to source.
 
Model history
 
1955: Type 14 Karmann Ghia launched in Coupe body style only available in LHD
1957: Convertible model launched in LHD
1959: Both Coupe and Convertible models now available in RHD
1961: Type 34 Karmann Ghia with 1500cc engine is offered alongside existing Type 14. Type 34 only available in Coupe body style
1962: Electric sunroof option introduced on Type 34 in LHD models only
1964: RHD Type 34 models now also offered with sunroof option
1966: 1300cc engine available for one year of production for Type 14
1967: 1500cc engine standard across all Karmann Ghia’s
1969: Type 34 production ends with 42,498 cars made
1971: 1600cc Engine introduced
1974: Type 14 production ends with 444,300 vehicles made
 
Clubs and websites
 
• www.kgoc.org.uk - Karmann Ghia UK owners club and forum
• www.karmann-ghias.co.uk - Useful resource for Karmann Ghia owners and enthusiasts
• www.vwheritage.com - Official parts from Volkswagen for all models 
 
Summary and prices
 
Viable restoration projects can start from as low as £5000, and fully restored concourse condition cars regularly change hands for £28,000 and more. Good, useable cars are somewhere between these two figures, with a decent Type 14 convertible going for around £15,000. Convertibles are highly sought after and a constant rise in values over the past decade means that more and more cars are being restored. 

The Karmann Ghia is a timeless classic offering a classy means of conveyance with the added benefit of being based on affordable mechanicals. Once referred to as the poor man’s Porsche 356, such a moniker nowadays would be selling it short. The Karmann Ghia has matured into a desirable classic in its own right. 

Words: John Tallodi
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Last updated: 18th Nov 2015
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Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia cars for sale

11 Search results
Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia
12500 39950 GBP
  • Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Convertible

    POA POA

    - The nicest example we have encountered and subject to a highly detailed, bare metal restoration - A 'matching numbers', right-hand drive example as confirmed by its accompanying VW Heritage Certificate - Offered with an extensive history file and worthy of close inspection 'FMA 270F' is quite simply the finest Karmann Ghia we have ever encountered and its comprehensive history file contains letters from both the Owners' Club and an independent marque specialist showing they have been similarly impressed. It was manufactured to right-hand drive specification on April 2nd 1968 and delivered new to the USA on June 5th that year. It has also spent a number of years in Ireland and was evidently still a nice example before being treated to a fastidious, 'no expense spared nut and bolt restoration' a few years ago, for which the body is understood to have been removed from the floorpan - a length to which few Karmann Ghia refurbishments are taken. The shell was then shot blasted back to bare metal before being expertly repainted in its original Black livery. The interior was retrimmed to an equivalent standard in Cream-coloured hide. Both the vendor and marque expert Martin McGarry of t

    • Year: 1968
    For sale
    H&H Classics Limited
    01925 210035 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 1974

    £12,500 £12,500

    Volkswagen Karmann Ghia convertible. 1974. Metallic grey bodywork, black hood and interior. LHD California import. Good solid car. £1250.00 ONO. Call for more info 07976 743612.

    For sale
  • Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 1973

    POA POA

    SOLD / VERKAUFT / VENDU / VERKOCHT Volkswagen Karmann Ghia coupe 1973 body-off restored This Volkswagen Karmann Ghia coupe has been built in 1973 and is body-off restored. The car has beautiful red paint with chrome accents. The interior of the car is fully renewed and provide with original black skai. This combination is very beautiful. The car has an original 1600CC, 4Cyl, engine and is in very good technic condition. So a very gorgeous and reliable Volkswagen Karmann Ghia for lots of driving fun. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1973
    For sale
  • Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupe 1971

    POA POA

    SOLD / VERKAUFT / VENDU / VERKOCHT Volkswagen Karmann Ghia coupe 1971 in very good condition The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia was built between 1955 and 1974. The Italien company Ghia designed the car and the German bodyworks company Karmann built it. This is a 1971 VW in colour Irish Green with beige interior. The wooden dashboard, classic steering wheel and the black minilite rims are beautiful details on this car. The car is in excellent condition and ready for lots of driving fun, also because of the wonderful sound of the aircooled boxer engine. Car has USA title and document importduties for every EU country are paid by us. Documentation is complete for registration in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importduties. We can help with transport. Trading in, buying and consignment possible.

    • Year: 1971
    For sale
  • Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 1965

    POA POA

    SOLD/VERKAUFT/VENDU/VERKOCHT Volkswagen Karmann Ghia coupe 1965 originally German delivered. The Karmann Ghia is a 2 door sportscar, built by Volkswagen between 1955 et 1974, mostly sold outside of Europe. This Karmann Ghia was originally delivered in Germany in the original colours. The car is in a very beautiful and well maintained condition. The car has the 1.2 ltr 34 HP engine with a 4 speed manual gearbox. Drives great. This Karmann has the extra chrome handles on the bumpers and the original chrome wheel covers. The value for Karmann Ghias are increasing lately and especially for the older models with the little bumpers and taillights like this one. So a very beautiful, great driving Karmann Ghia and a good investment. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1965
    For sale
  • Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 1958

    €39,950(£34,556.75) €39,950(£34,556.75)

    SOLD/VERKAUFT/VENDU/VERKOCHT Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Lowlight 1958 in very good condition The Lowlight is a very rare and early variant of de VW Karmann Ghia, built between 1955 and 1959 and recognizable at the little extra taillights and the little air inlets at the front. This is a marvelous 1958 Karmann Ghia Lowlight, in very good condition. Blue metallic paint is very beautiful and the interior of the car is fully renewed by beige/blue seats. The original 1198 Type I, 30 HP engine is in an excellent condition. A Karmann Ghia in such a marvelous condition is hard to find. So a car for a lot of driving fun and a good investment also. Car has USA title and document import duties for every EU country are paid by us. Documentation is complete for registration in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importduties. We can help with transport. Trading in, buying and consignment possible.

    • Year: 1958
    For sale
  • Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 1971

    POA POA

    SOLD / VERKAUFT / VENDU / VERKOCHT Volkswagen Karmann Ghia cabriolet 1971, fully restored This is an original 1971 VW Karmann Ghia convertible. The car is fully restored. Both the in- and outside are in great condition. The combination of the black paint, the red interior with white piping and the ‘white wall’ tyres is magnificent. The original 1598 CC, 4 cyl 48 HP boxer engine is in the back. The car has a 4 speed manual gearbox. The interest for the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is increasing lately, so this car is not only great to drive, but a good investment also. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1971
    For sale
  • Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 1970

    €32,950(£28,501.75) €32,950(£28,501.75)

    *** THIS CAR HAS BEEN SOLD *** Please contact us if you were interested in this car. Our inventory is constantly changing and we will have similar examples of this model becoming available soon. ----------------------------- Volkswagen Karmann Ghia coupe 1970 fully restored in topcondition 1970 VW Karmann Ghia coupe, fully restored and in topcondition. The car has the original Karmann Ghia colour ‘Texas braun’ combined with black interieur with light brown carpet and a wooden dashboard. The car an aircooled 1584 CC 48 HP Boxer engine and manual gearbox. Technics are being fully checked in our garage. The car drives great. The car also has the original little bumpers with extra handles. When you are looking for a Karmann Ghia to drive immediately, this car is a good choice. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1970
    For sale
  • Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 1972

    €29,950(£25,906.75) €29,950(£25,906.75)

    *** THIS CAR HAS BEEN SOLD *** Please contact us if you were interested in this car. Our inventory is constantly changing and we will have similar examples of this model becoming available soon. ----------------------------- Volkswagen Karmann Ghia cabriolet 1972 in good condition The most characteristic model of Karmann is the Karmann Ghia. This car is a 1972 VW Karmann Ghia Type 14. This German 4 seat convertible is optically and technically in a good and beautiful condition. The car has beautiful red paint, beautiful black interior and a black softtop. The car has the most powerful 1570 CC (1.6ltr), 60 HP engine and manual gearbox. Drives great. When you are looking for a sporty Karmann Ghia, this one is a good choice. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1972
    For sale
  • Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 1969

    €39,950(£34,556.75) €39,950(£34,556.75)

    SOLD / VERKAUFT / VENDU / VERKOCHT VW Karmann Ghia coupe 1969 fully restored This 1969 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia coupe is fully restored (photoreport is present) and has paint and wheels in a beautiful burgundy red colour. The interior has black leatherette and a beautiful wooden dashboard. This Karmann Ghia has the original 1296 CC, 4 cyl boxer engine with semi-automatic gearbox. This Volkswagen Karmann Ghia coupe is in a fabulous, very well restored condition. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1969
    For sale
  • Volkswagen Karmann

    £29,995 £29,995

    *SIMILAR CLASSIC CARS ALWAYS REQUIRED* SOLD Thinking of selling? Our proven commission sale or SOR (Sale or Return) program is a great way to utilise and access our professional services and facilities while still maximising the return from your vehicle with minimal hassle, stress and time, If you’d like to take advantage of this then please get in touch for further information. Alternatively If you’d like to move your vehicle on quickly and efficiently with minimal delay then we can make an offer on an outright purchase basis with payment and collection arranged soon after. A pristine 1966 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Convertible absolutely enthusiast owned EQUIPMENT Chrome bumpers, bumper rails, chrome driver’s door mirror, chrome waist strip, horn pad with Wolfsburg crest, emergency flashers, interior light, padded dash, headlight flasher, lockable glove compartment, fresh air ventilators, heater, electric clock, ashtray, door pockets, twin sun visors, acoustical soundproofing. Optional extras; Seat belts. EXTERIOR This astonishingly beautiful Type 14 Karmann Ghia Convertible is finished in DuPont single stage VW Dove Blue and is quite simply a show winner. The racy long low bodylines took 185 men working by hand at the Karmann coachbuilders of Osnabruck to make the body alone when new. Very few body off restorations can recreate the extravagant looks of the original with such perfection as this example offers. All the chrome enhancements have a mirror finish and the most scrutinising will struggle to fault this Luigi Segre iconic design. A quality Haartz Stayfast 3-ply dark blue fabric roof with matching tonneau cover at a cost of $5,000 complements the body colour beautifully. The underside is meticulously clean with detailing extending to wheel arch areas. Amazing. INTERIOR The red permeable leatherette upholstery is recreated exactly as Volkswagen intended by leading interior experts TMI Products Inc with no modification whatsoever. The bucket seats are both supportive and comfortable and the factory original steering wheel with Wolfsburg crest and horn bar is immaculate, as are all additional functions and chrome plated control knobs. Incredibly desirable and unique to the 1966 model year is the two inch wide plastic chrome decorative trim mounted longitudinally through the dash centre. The grey salt and pepper loop carpets are immaculate and tailored to fit over Dynamat Xtreme sound damping material. The original decorative electric clock works. A fantastic testament to quality and detail. ENGINE & TRANSMISSION The jewel in the crown. An air-cooled custom built 2074cc engine with incredible specification. Items include: SCAT forged 4130 counterweighted crank, SCAT rocker shift kit, SCAT manifolds, NPR 92mm pistons, Sig Erson Racing Cam and lifters, Norris Performance chromoly push rods. Setup and blueprinted by J&S Enterprises and breathing through a Custom A1 tuck-under exhaust system this engines offers a thrilling package. The 4-speed gearbox is enhanced by a EMPI short-shift kit mated to Kennedy Stage 1 1700lb clutch. WHEELS, TYRES, BRAKES & SUSPENSION Pristine Speedwell BRM wheels recreate the classic California Look and are shod in new matching Nexen 185/60 R15 tyres. Dual circuit braking system with new front discs and rebuilt stock drums offer excellent braking. New shock absorbers all-round, steering dampers, tie-rods and lowered two inches with a EMPI camber adjuster fitted offers the retro look without compromising comfort and practically. HISTORY FILE Being a 1966 model year Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Convertible the desirability of this example is enhanced further. Originally sold in the State of California and remaining there until fanatical Volkswagen enthusiast William Ward imported the car in 2013 to add to his private collection. A history file encompassing many invoices for parts used for this high specification build goes someway in revealing the quest for perfection combined with real driveability and fun. Arguably one of the finest Karmann Ghia Convertibles available and sure to satisfy the thrill seeking perfectionist! Tax exempt, MOT May 2017, HPI Clear To see a video of this car please click on the link below: https://youtu.be/FU2C2wTqHsg To see a complete set of photographs of this car please click on the link below: https://flic.kr/s/aHskBW4Jzq 'Like us' or 'Follow us' for exciting new cars coming soon at KGF Classic Cars: https://www.facebook.com/KGFClassiccars https://twitter.com/KGFClassicCars Please Google 'KGF Classic Cars Youtube' and 'KGF Classic Cars Flickr' for a HD video and multiple detailed HR photos of this vehicle.

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