1971 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 1.6 dual port from North America
Fun to drive and be seen in
I bought my Ghia as a "Fixer" car, so quite a bit was wrong with it. It was running when I bought it, but just barely. Despite a leaky fuel pump, needing a carb rebuild, ripped CVC boot, bad tie rod ends, WAAAAYYY out of spec. valve clearances, etc. etc. I was able to drive the car 1100 miles from where I bought it (Portland, OR to Los Angeles) to bring it back home. As with any old VW, it takes a lot to kill it.
I've been restoring it for the last two years, and have found that you get what you pay for in terms of parts. I bought a cheap Brazilian replacement fuel pump, which promptly fell to pieces four months later. I bought a cheaper wooden header bow for the convertible roof, and found that it doesn't fit quite right.
Rust is a real issue with these cars. Replacement body panels can be easily found online, but I have yet to find out what a body shop will charge for the work.
I'm somewhat mechanically inclined, but had no real experience working on cars. I've found the Ghia lends itself very well to the home mechanic. Parts are readily available online and at local VW parts shops. Although my skills and tools are limited, I have been able to do a great deal of the work on this car - carpeting, drive axles, wiring, valve adjustments, rebuild rear seat.
I drive a late model Sentra as my daily driver and although the Sentra is more capable in every way, braking, accelerating, cornering, ride quality, noise level, gas mileage, it is the Ghia that gets the looks, the comments, the thumbs up, the conversations. It is also the Ghia that I am proud of, because with limited skills and tools, I have been able to bring mine back from the brink of the junkyard.
No one ever asks me if my Sentra is for sale, but I frequently get people asking if I'll part with my Ghia. NO, NO, NO!!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 8th March, 2014