My Companion of 15 Years

Posted on July 17, 2017. Filed under: car | Tags: , , , , , |


30 years ago I took my old VW Beetle, but which was new to me, to Tatton Hall VW Show, where I discovered the existence of the Karmann Ghia, especially in it’s cabriolet form, and vowed that it was the car of my dreams, and that One Day I would have one.

15 years ago, I realised this dream, and it’s been with me ever since, except when it’s been cold or when there’s been a chance of rain, when it’s been tucked away in the carpeted (!) garage.20155958_10154991899521429_3863109422335988407_n

But now, for reasons that some know, I have to part with it, so the journey has come to an end. This page reflects on its past, and also serves to show it in its current state, which isn’t really that different to when I took it in 2002.

Back in 2002, it was sourced in San Francisco and imported into the UK by Karmann Ghia Motorworks (KGM). It was in its original green, with a very tatty cream hood and interior. So I had the hood replaced, the car resprayed black, and the interior refurbished with a dark red interior. Mechanically the car was sound, the bodywork intact, engine fine, tyres from 1986 and the battery from 1992! It even had a newly-refreshed parking permit on the bumper. Working radio-cassette player with powered Porsche aerial and Mountney steering wheel, and a powered windscreen washer being the most notable changes to the standard. I had 2 lap belts fitted for the rear “seat”, and also an immobiliser. It is most likely a unique version of this car..

So, it’s a 1971 (registered in UK on a “L” plate), 1600cc, LHD of course: at the time of import KGM considered it to have a genuine mileage of 79,300 (that is, an average of 2,478 miles PA over 32 years!). In the 15 years that I’ve had it, I’ve increased the mileage to currently 110,000 (so my average has been 2,046 PA): this has all been Summer driving, mainly commutes, and only when the forecast has been set fine for the day.  In this time, it’s been caught in the rain maybe 4 or 5 times – it’s seen more water from being kept clean!

It’s been professionally maintained and annually serviced at KGM, and so any issues have been dealt with as they’ve arisen, not that there’s exactly been many. Though last year, the tyres failed the MoT, so all 4 were replaced (and so have 1,700 miles on them). The car has always been good to drive, the gearbox seems spot on, but the new tyres have taken it to another level of sweetness: it’s just a delight (if you can cope with LHD of course).

The powered aerial extends quite high and I’ve ripped a couple off by not retracting it before going into the garage. The engine has needed nothing more than annual plugs & points, maybe a seal or two down the line. In my time the car’s broken down twice, once when a wire fell off the coil, and once when the internal circuit in the immobiliser failed – so the solution was to wire it to the second circuit in it (while KGM learned from the supplier that this was the only one that he’d ever supplied that had failed!) – so neither of those really being the cars fault. The paintwork on the bonnet is marked from the washer jets, but am sure that will come right with extra elbow grease and/or something like T-cut..

Anyway, on with some pictures: the first are on delivery in 2002, and also it was featured in the KGOC magazine Karmann Komment:


Current Photos:

Some close-ups (taken today: 17th July 2017):

As much as I love the car I want to show that it’s not a concourse car or a show winner: the headlining is a little dirty and has that 2-inch tear in it, there’s a small hole in the fabric on the drivers seat, there’s some dechroming going on on the passenger-side rear bumper corner, and there appear to be some “bubbles” along the bottom of the engine lid: these were there when it came over in 2002, and KGM assure me that it would have been due to a less than stellar repair at some point in the past (the “bubbles” don’t flex at all, and haven’t changed in 15 years).

Oh, and the dash clock doesn’t work, but I gather that’s nothing new in the world of Karmann Ghias!

Postscript: 19th July 2017: I’ve now taken a deposit for the car, and it should be heading off to its new home for the next chapter in its life in the next couple of days. I’m convinced it’s going to a good home, which has surprised me as being an important consideration for me…




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