1968 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

  • 1968 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
  • California import
  • Fully rebuilt 1500cc engine
  • Recently resprayed and rewired


It may have blended German engineering with Italian styling, but few cars evoke the West Coast of California like the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. This 1968 example was imported to the UK from the Golden State and has recently had more than £20,000 spent on it.

The work that has been carried out included the fitment of a new engine lid and door skins as part of the bodywork repairs that were completed before the Karmann Ghia was resprayed.

In late 2020, all of the brightwork was stripped and the ‘nostril’ grilles were replaced. The dashboard was refurbished and the doors were realigned, and a US-spec ‘towel rail’ was added to the rear bumper.

More work was then carried out in late 2021, when a new wiring harness was fitted. This included replacing the loom and bulbs for the dash instruments, and rewiring the discreet under-dash radio.

This was followed by a full rebuild of the 1500cc engine, during which new con-rods were fitted, plus new camshaft bearings, cam followers, pistons and barrels, cylinder heads and oil pump. The high-pressure hoses for the semi-automatic gearbox – which retains the gear lever but does away with the clutch pedal – were also replaced. Fuel hoses that are suitable for today’s high-ethanol petrol have been fitted, too.

Having wanted for nothing in recent years – all work is carefully catalogued in the history file – this Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is now being offered for sale in superb condition, and will make a stylish and useable classic for its next owner.

Model history

The Type 14 Karmann Ghia was launched in 1955 as a 2+2 coupé that housed the proven mechanical components from the Volkswagen Beetle in a flowing body designed by Ghia and built by Karmann.

It was expensive and time-consuming to build, but the new car was an immediate success, and generated a particularly keen following in the USA. The air-cooled flat-four engine grew over the years from 1192cc to 1584cc, the styling was subtly altered from the original ‘low light’ model, and a semi-automatic transmission was offered from 1968.

A convertible model was added to the range in 1957, and upgrades came thick and fast during the 1960s – in line with improvements being made to the Beetle. In 1966, front disc brakes were employed, plus 12-volt electrics, and the rear suspension was modified – as it was again the following year, when the swing-arm arrangement was replaced with a semi-trailing arm set-up.

Between 1961 and 1969, there was also the ‘razor edge’ Type 34 model, which featured much more angular styling as well as revised front suspension. Based on Volkswagen’s Type 3 platform and intended to be much more upmarket than the Type 14, it didn’t sell in anything like the same numbers and was eventually replaced by the VW-Porsche 914.

Production of the Type 14 lasted until 1974, with just over 445,000 being built in Germany – plus 41,689 in Brazil. It was no sports car – even the most powerful version put out only 50bhp – but the Karmann Ghia was popular all over the world thanks to its elegant styling and dependable engineering, and in the intervening decades it has deservedly gained a strong cult following.

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