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Cars The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight

15:08  23 july  2020
15:08  23 july  2020 Source:   classicandsportscar.com

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The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is a sports car marketed in 2+2 coupe (1955–1974) and 2+2 convertible (1957–1974) body styles by Volkswagen . Internally designated the Type 14, the Karmann Ghia combined the chassis and mechanicals of the Type 1 (Beetle)

The Volkswagen Karmann - Ghia put a stylish Italian body over the humble VW Beetle. Volkswagen Karmann - Ghia . by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide. The sporty VW took its name from Karmann , the German firm that built the body, and Ghia , the Italian design house that came up with

a car driving on a road: Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight © Tony Baker/Classic & Sports Car Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight

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There was a plethora of shiny, rare and valuable coachbuilt classics at 2018’s Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court Palace, yet one of the standout cars of the parallel Royal Automobile Club ‘Club Trophy’ was effectively an early ’60s Volkswagen Beetle.

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Volkswagen Karmann - Ghia year-by-year changes hued to the VW tradition of slow evolution, and in some Volkswagen Karmann - Ghia year-by-year changes were particularly languid when it came to the styling When VW revamped its power ratings for 1973, switching from gross to net figures, the

But VW finally called it the Volkswagen Karmann - Ghia , making a selling point of those responsible for the manufacture and styling. Part of the additional weight came from the added width of the Karmann 's body, which gave it nearly six more inches of front hip room than the Beetle.

Admittedly one with a curvaceous and crafted body, but it was relatively modest given the company in which it found itself.

It says a lot about this particular car that it claimed another award to add to the gong from the Club’s Woodcote House event earlier in the year.

And rightly so: the left-hand-drive 1964 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is as cute as a button and the pride and joy of owner and restorer Lori Clarke and his wife, Skye.

a close up of a car: Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight © Tony Baker/Classic & Sports Car Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight

“She was hugely supportive throughout the four-year restoration,” Clarke recalls. “Skye really loves going out in it now that it’s done.”

Despite not being directly involved in the rebuild itself, she thoroughly embraced the project – so much so that she ended up christening the German classic ‘Carmen’ on behalf of the family.

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Volkswagen Karmann - Ghia styling was now complete. Recognizing the pretty little Ghia coupe as a way to expand the VW line without much effort, Nordhoff gave the project thumbs-up and turned the job of production over to Karmann . Complete Beetle platforms were shipped from Wolfsburg to

The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupe (Type-1) '68 is a Road car produced by Volkswagen . It appears in Gran Turismo 4, Gran Turismo PSP, Gran Turismo 5 and Gran Turismo 6. Five colors are available for this car: Chromblau. Zypressengrun/Togaweiss. Pirolgelb. Sunset. Kirschrot.

That was one of the driving forces behind the purchase, because the couple wanted a classic car that could accommodate Izzy and Henry, their two then-young children.

Henry was 10 years old when Clarke won the Volkswagen on eBay – “I was the only bidder” – and he accompanied his dad to Wales for the drive home to Surrey in the £6000 prize.

“He soon wished he hadn’t,” says Clarke. “It broke down four times and it took six hours. It was a running car but it was obvious it needed more love and attention.” It was imported in 1974 from the United States and had swiftly made its way through eight owners since.

a group of people standing on top of a car: Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight © Tony Baker/Classic & Sports Car Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight

Another part of the appeal was that VW’s ‘People’s Car’ had played a major role in Clarke’s early motoring life.

At the age of 16 he restored a Beetle: “That was perfect to learn the basics with and it fired my enthusiasm. It effectively gave me a career of sorts after school.

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The Karmann Ghia 's improved aerodynamics managed to increase the Beetle's 68mph top speed by 8mph the sheer weight of the KG body style added more Throughout its run, the KG had suffered gibes from those of the string-back glove/hair shirt school of motoring, but these were insults that VW

The Karmann Ghia was a Volkswagen model sold from 1955 all the way to 1974. Like the Beetle on which is was Unfortunately, this would mean that the Karmann Ghia wouldn't be rear engined like the original, but don't worry, we have an alternative plan for that.

“I was living at home in Eastbourne working for a company called Concours Classic Cars, restoring all manner of things from Moggy Minors to Jaguar E-types.

“The company went under in 1989 when the classic-car bubble burst, but I found work with a one-man band [Windmill Classics] and then a Jaguar expert. Much as I enjoyed the work I couldn’t see it as a long-term career.”

a motorcycle that is sitting on a chair: Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight © Tony Baker/Classic & Sports Car Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight

Instead, Clarke trained as a chartered surveyor and today oversees three practices.

He didn’t turn his back totally on old cars, owning a Hillman Imp and a Mercedes-Benz 500SL before the arrival of ‘Carmen’.

He recalls: “I tinkered with those but this was my first restoration after leaving the business.

“It was great to set up a workshop in my own garage and not have the pressure of meeting a client’s deadline.”

a close up of a sink: Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight © Tony Baker/Classic & Sports Car Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight

Unlike during his professional days of the late ’80s, the advent of the internet and the subsequent access to owners’ forums made the process far easier and more enjoyable.

The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight

  The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight Power Book II: Ghost official trailer (STARZ)

Hey, look, Karmann Ghias had electric rear- window defrosters (to go with the hydrocarbon-o-riffic exhaust-heat-powered interior heaters. The Karmann Ghia was essentially styled in Detroit, by Virgil Exner Sr, though unintentionally. He has won many awards for that car. Loved working on that car.

The original Karmann Ghia prototype itself resides in Volkswagen 's private Osnabrück collection, but VW does bring it out on special occasions. In related news, Volkswagen is sending its iconic Kombi bus out in style, with the launch of a Kombi Last Edition model in its home Brazilian market.

“I came unstuck a number of times but within minutes I was steered back on course,” Clarke says. “People were really helpful, often directing me to rare parts suppliers all around the world.”

Clarke overhauled every moving part on the car, his proudest claim being the rebuilding and detailing of the flat-four.

The standard 1200cc engine produced a meagre 40bhp with a single carburettor, so he decided to take it out to 1385cc by employing new barrels and pistons, fitting a high-lift cam and adding a pair of Weber carbs.

a car engine: Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight © Tony Baker/Classic & Sports Car Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight

This also meant using early Mann filters, complete with Clarke’s recreation of the original orange sticker.

Apart from simply looking the part, the resulting engine’s power output was also increased to 60bhp.

Once stripped, the shell was media-blasted and etch-primed. Although not a horror story, the front valance and the bottom of the wings and doors needed either attention or replacing.

Pattern parts – made in Denmark, surprisingly – and salvaged secondhand bits were sourced through Volkswagen Heritage.

The welding, preparation and painting was undertaken by Auto Attractions in Dorking, and the distinctive colour scheme really sets the car off. That and the thin Vredestein Classic whitewall radial tyres, Clarke’s grandfather’s RAC badges and the US-spec stainless-steel bumpers.

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Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight © Tony Baker/Classic & Sports Car Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight

The bulk of the car is finished in Pearl White, though it looks more like a dirty cream or very pale khaki, topped off perfectly with a black roof.

Completing this super-stylish package is the Brick Red and Ivory interior, which, combined with the thick-knot carpeting, looks ridiculously chic for what was a relatively inexpensive car.

The door cards and upholstery sets were imported from TMI Volkswagen Parts in California.

“I managed to get everything I needed,” Clarke explains, “though some of it was expensive.” With bits coming from all around the world, this was a truly global rebuild.

a car parked on the side of a road: Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight © Tony Baker/Classic & Sports Car Classic & Sports Car – The award-winning Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that punches above its weight

Just how attractive this Karmann Ghia is hasn’t been lost on Clarke’s now-teenage children: “I was taking Henry somewhere in it and we passed Guildford High girls’ school as they were chucking out.

“They all looked and cooed as we drove by. He turned and said to me, ‘Dad, when you die, can I have your car?’ I guess that’s the power of a classic!”

Images: Tony Baker

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