As a one-time Beetle tragic I’ve always wanted to own one of these beautiful cars.
After a more than a decade as the proud of owner of an Aussie-delivered 1976 Beetle – the last of its kind – Volkswagen’s Karmann Ghia seemed like a natural progression.
The bloke up the road had a 356 Porsche, in need of restoration — but for my money the Ghia was a better looking car and cheaper too.
Then I got married, then kids happened and then suddenly the Beetle became surplus to needs.
The last time I saw it BUG-076 was heading down the road to the Snowy Mountains.
The Karmann Ghia was an incredibly successful transformation of the humble Beetle into a much more stylish coupe.
Sitting on a modified Beetle floor pan with chic Italian styling from design studio Ghia, the coupe and convertible was also upgraded mechanically with a front anti-roll bar fitted to improve handling.
This, along with the superior aerodynamics, thanks to sleeker, lower lines, allowed the car to achieve a respectable 116 km/h.
The Ghia was better equipped too, in keeping with the coach-built nature of the new model, with features like an electric clock, push-button radio and cigarette lighter.
First produced in 1953, the original Type 14 Ghia remained in production until 1973, with some 300,000 produced over a 20-year period.
Technical developments generally mirrored those of the Beetle, with a full, synchromesh gearbox and more powerful 34 bhp 1.2-litre engine adopted in 1960.
Along the way Volkswagen also added a highly desirable cabriolet version, with a clever folding hood that proved particularly popular in warmer climates like California.
Practical, affordable and very cool, the Karmann Ghia has always been popular with enthusiasts seeking a stylish European coupe without the high running costs.
Car designers around the world are quick to acknowledge the Volkswagen when the conversation turns to favourite designs.