1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia 1.6 dual port from North America
Fun and comfortable
Usual items are heat control cables, and the occasional electrical problem. The central wiring terminals are exposed in the trunk, and that can lead to problems with corrosion and shorts if not cared for properly.
If you want to own this car, then you should be somewhat knowledgeable about them, or at least know a mechanic or shop that understands them. Mine was rescued from a shop that could not even get it running.
Car was picked up as an unfinished restoration project, which means I have to locate missing parts and undo mechanic's mistakes. Being almost 40 years old also means you have to take care of all the "deferred maintenance"... things that were not done when they should have been!
As a car it is very reliable and economical: You can drive for hours and use very little fuel, mileage seems between 30-40 MPG.
In the looks department, it always turns heads. That hand-built body has timeless good looks and people will just walk up to you and ask questions. Be careful though; one driver literally hit a curb at 45mph while gazing at it, and a fast food cashier almost fell out of a drive-through window trying to watch us park.
Handling is adequate, not as sharp as a Porsche, but lighter feeling than almost anything else. Surprisingly, the later Ghia's with the 1600cc dual port engines have decent power for the light weight of the car, and keeps up with traffic just fine. The brakes are front disc/rear drum like modern cars, so brake performance is better than expected. However, remember that this is an old car and lacks the safety equipment and mass of modern cars. For protection in front, you have sheet metal, a spare tire, and, um, a gas tank...
Use the same caution as you would driving a large motorcycle.
Another unexpected plus? Comfort! For some reason this little car has a smoother, more comfortable ride than most other cars I've owned or driven. It's relaxed but not sloppy, and I'd rather take for a drive in the country than our other two late-model cars.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 28th July, 2009