The Project Car – 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupe

74kghiaThe Volkswagen Karmann Ghia was a childhood favorite of mine.  I clearly remember playing the game “Slug Bug” (also known as Punch Buggy, Punch Dub, etc) as a child.  For those of you of a younger generation, the classic VW Beetle was so prevalent on the roads of the U.S. at one point that a child’s game developed around it.  The game involved shouting “Slug Bug (color of the VW Bug)” and punching (slugging) the arm of the other child(ren) present when someone first sighted a VW Beetle.  Understandably, this caused a bit of an aversion to the Beetle for me.  That aversion led to a greater appreciation of the stylish Ghia.  There isn’t a “Slug Ghia” game because you just didn’t see them and the manufacturing of the Beetle far outpaced that of the Ghia.

So, many moons on, I finally found a solid Ghia to call my own.  I’ll cover the details of my search and subsequent pickup in later posts.  The purpose of this article is to quickly introduce the vehicle and what I know about it.  I’ll also go through a list of the items I know will need immediate attention and in which order I prioritized them.

I ended up purchasing a 1974 Karmann Ghia Coupe in early January, 2015.  I picked up the car outside of Kansas City, Missouri from a really nice guy named Gary J.  Gary is a great communicator who fed me a lot of information and media (videos, photos) on the vehicle prior to my arrival.  What I found was:

– Very solid body and chassis.  The car was delivered on July 3rd, 1974 to a dealership in Florida.  The car went from Florida, to Texas andOklahoma, Missouri and finally home with me to Tennessee.  There is a soft spot on the underside panel where the car jack is located under the rear seat, passenger side.  I suspect I’ll be able to weld a replacement panel in fairly easily before I undercoat the wheel wells and underside/chassis.

– The paint that is on it looks great!  A previous owner had it painted Maserati Red but it wasn’t a bare metal respray.  The factory color of the car appears to be Ravena Green (think pea green puke) so, I have no objections to the spray.  That said, they did overspray in the dashboard/firewall area and they completely neglected the wheel wells and interior.  I suspect I’ll get five to ten years out of this paint job before I go down to bare metal

– The engine runs solidly and sounds great.  Will change the oil and the spark plugs in the near future but it runs fine for now.

– The brakes are too soft.  Will need to determine if it’s a fluid or drum/disk brake issue.  From a safety standpoint this will be near (if not) the top of the list.

– Electrical wiring needs a lot of work.  Can’t easily determine which wire is which wire because of the red spray all over the wiring.  Turn signals not working, backup lights not working, clock not working, not all indicators are working.

– Interior will need to be overhauled at some point but works fine for now.  Need to fix the seat sliding forward and backwards as that doesn’t currently work.  The interior is complete and a brown/beige.  Maybe not original.

Overall, I believe I got a great vehicle for a great price.  The body is solid and easily fixable for its age.  I’ve run a magnet all over the car with no evidence of heavy bondo use.  The Ghia is a runner and does it well.  I’ll likely start with fixing the brakes so it stops as well as it runs.  Check out the walk around of what I’m starting with —

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