1970 VOLKSWAGEN Karmann Ghia Fixed HeadView vehicle description
Far more than simply ‘a Beetle in a pretty dress’ as some enthusiasts refer to it, the now-iconic Karmann Ghia was launched in 1955, at which time we have no doubt the Carrozzeria Ghia-penned lines and hand-built Karmann body shell looked positively out of this world, especially when compared with its austere Beetle stablemate.
Offered initially as a 2+2 and later as a 2+2 convertible, the Ghia was based upon the underpinnings of the Type 1 Beetle, with the engine and gearbox also being carried over, with displacement rising in line with the Beetle’s production changes.
Always regarded as one of the most stunning-looking cars to ever wear the Volkswagen roundel with pride, with publications such as Autosport magazine lavishing the design with praise, stating it had a “purity of line and perfection of proportion that almost takes one’s breath away” which we’d say is strong praise indeed!
In the end, the Karmann Ghia was phased out in 1974 by the Scirocco, which continued the Ghia’s traditions of a luxurious, stylish body on more humble underpinnings, as it was based on the humble Golf. Clearly, VW had started a trend…
This particular example was a California-delivered car built in 1970, and imported into the UK during 2008.
In 2015, the car underwent a full mechanical and aesthetic restoration, which included conversion to right-hand-drive for ease of use on UK roads. The bodywork was also re-sprayed into the gorgeous cherry red that you see before you, which suits the classic lines of the Karmann Ghia very well indeed, in our opinion, and is offset well against the cream wheels and chrome details.
Having been restored during the last ten years and extensively inspected by Porsche Centre Portsmouth in 2014 and again by the vendor’s VW mechanic in more recent years, this is an excellent example of the iconic air-cooled, hand-crafted VW from the 70’s, which would look excellent as part of any enthusiast’s collection or driveway.
On the Outside
Resplendent in Cherry Red metallic with plenty of chrome detailing, there is no denying that the Karmann Ghia is a very, very pretty car indeed, and the lines of this particular example have stood the test of time very well.
As far as we can see, there were no signs of any impact damage, mis-aligned panels or other issues along the stylish flanks of the car, though the lower edge of the passenger door could do with some adjustment, likely due to some dropped hinges or catches.
The frunk hood is nicely aligned and forms a tight seal when shut, but the catch for the bonnet does not appear to engage correctly and does not latch down, which will require attending to before the car is driven on the open road.
The chrome bumpers and over-riders on both the front and rear are in excellent condition with only some light pitting and patina, whilst the trims along the side of the body are also in very good shape.
The only particularly notable wear to the exterior (barring a few marks and stone chips, which have been documented in the gallery below) are a couple of small bubbles which have also been photographed and are largely hidden in day-to-day use, and the driver’s door window rubber, which has come unseated and will require replacement.
The offside rear pop-out window is stiff but in full working order, though the nearside window requires some attention, as it does not seat properly when opened and the ‘B-pillar’ on the nearside is also loose, with the result being that the glass would fall out when opened if this is not rectified.
Below the arches, all four of the classic steel wheels are in good order and painted in a contrasting cream, with the chrome beauty dishes also being in great shape with plenty of shine.
On the Inside
As with the outside, the cabin of this Karmann Ghia wears its years very well and with apparent ease, and presents in wonderful condition throughout.
The cream leather seats are all in excellent condition with minimal signs of wear, and certainly no signs of any rips, tears or damage, though the cover of the nearside front seat headrest needs re-sticking as it is beginning to come away.
In the rear, the bench seat back clasp requires replacement as it does not hold the seat up, but otherwise the bench is in near-pristine condition, and the rear luggage area - which also houses some stealthily-installed 6x9 speakers - is in good order.
Up above, the headliner gives no cause for complaints, and the carpets and over-mats are also in great shape, though a deep steam cleaning would be beneficial.
Being such a mechanically-focused car, there is little to go wrong inside the Ghia. The clock works, as do the speedometer and fuel gauge, and that’s about it. The original radio remains in-situ, but a more modern unit has been installed underneath the dash - a nice touch for more enjoyable motoring, which also serves as a way to charge your phone on the go.
In the front, the luggage area is in excellent order with no signs of heavy wear or water ingress that we could see, and there is no smell of fuel from the front-mounted tank or filler.
Part of the appeal of any air-cooled VW is the flat-four engine, with its characteristic chug and strangely reassuring behaviour - it’s like having an old friend sat behind you, reminding you that everything is going to be alright.
Ok, perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but the character of an air-cooled flat-four is hard to replicate, and they’re popular for a reason, thanks to being so mechanically simple that almost anyone could work on them with only a few basic tools.
We’re pleased to report that the 1500cc engine in this Karmann Ghia appears to be in rude mechanical health. Starting on the first try from cold with no hesitation, the flat-four was happily humming away on our short test drive, with the auto-choke system working correctly, the gearshift typically vague in its action but reassuringly positive once the gate was found, and no sign of any wear or slipping to the clutch.
Once at our photo shoot spot, there was no smoke from the car on idle, and no sign of any untoward noises or behaviours, with re-starting also proving no problem whatsoever.
In fact, the only real issue we noted from a mechanical standpoint is that the front end feels very disconnected from the steering, and the wheel sits at around 25-degrees to the left of centre when driving in a straight line, so some alignment or attention to the front end is suggested.
Looking at the engine itself, everything appears to be in good order, with only a tiny weep noted from the top of the Solex carburettor. The bay itself is virtually immaculate, whilst the block and ancillaries present very well indeed.
Underneath, we can see no causes for concern, and everything looks to be in fine fettle, as confirmed by the recent MoT exam - dated 28 May 2021 and valid until 27 May 2022 - which shows a pass with only a couple of minor advisories, related to lighting and a flat spare tyre, the latter of which appears to have been rectified.
Despite its condition, there is very little in the way of paperwork present with this achingly pretty car.
What is present has all been photographed below, and includes the V5 ‘new keeper’ slip, a HPI report, one set of keys, an old tax disc, previous auction listing description, and some older invoices for various parts and miscellaneous work.
There is also a more in-depth invoice from 2015 amounting to £1,598 which shows an in-depth overhaul of the braking system, MoT related work, and other attention to the car’s various mechanical systems.
What We Think
Whilst VW have produced plenty of good-looking cars in the years since, nothing has particularly matched - or indeed bettered - the sheer kerb appeal and style of the Karmann Ghia, and as such it remains a true ‘cult classic’ both for VW fans and air-cooled car enthusiasts alike, as well as appealing to those that can appreciate four-wheeled style when they’re looking at it.
This particular 1970-registered 2+2 coupé is presented in excellent condition throughout and simply oozes charm and sophistication, whilst being mechanically sound and ready for the next owner to use and enjoy, with only a few minor details to attend to as-and-when time or enthusiasm allows, which would take this already fantastic example to the next level.
As for what it’s worth, we estimate a value in the region of £18,000 to £22,000 but with a strong enthusiast base behind it, anything could happen, so be sure to get your bids in early and bid well - good luck!
Viewing is always encouraged. This particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays between 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
If needed, Footman James classic car insurance and Classic Concierge offer storage options plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.
BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.
Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.
Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.
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