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Convertible Week: 1968 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

When Beetle production started getting into full swing in the 1950s, Volkswagen sought a sportier product to expand their market reach. Commissioning Karroserie Karmann and the Italian styling house Ghia, the end result was the Karmann Ghia, a car with swoopy curves but simple Beetle mechanicals at its backside. The Karmann Ghia convertible debuted two years after its hardtop counterpart and was manufactured all the way up until 1974, when the Scirocco took its place. Development money well spent, then. This Karmann Ghia for sale in Georgia had one owner for 20 years and a repaint in its original color along with an engine rebuild.

Year: 1968
Model: Karmann Ghia convertible
Engine: 1.5 liter flat four
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: 90,798 mi
Price: $19,995 Buy It Now

1968 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia on eBay

With the automotive industry in high gear in the 1950s, VW needed something more than a Beetle to bring upscale customers into their showrooms. The answer was the Karmann-Ghia, an international hybrid that combined VW engineering with Italian design, and it was a slam-dunk in terms of sales. This 1968 Karmann-Ghia convertible is a three-owner car hailing from California, and is one of the nicer examples we’ve seen.

The list of new equipment on this Karmann-Ghia is extensive, starting with a repaint in the original Lotus White. Despite their somewhat custom, hand-built nature, the Karmann-Ghias were as well-built as any VW of the period, with tightly fitted doors, surprisingly neat gaps, and excellent alignment throughout, all of which was preserved during the respray. There’s just enough chrome to remind you that this is a product of the 1950s, but also a European product, so it’s restrained, and more than $1600 was invested in refinishing the bumpers and exterior trim. The delicate chrome grilles up front add interest to the pointed nose, and slender bumpers wrap around the curvaceous fenders to offer better protection for the precious sheetmetal. Pencil-thin trim on the front fenders and along the rockers visually lengthens the car, and it’s quite easy to forget there’s a Beetle hiding underneath. This one also offers fresh lenses and gaskets, so even the details are crisp.

The interior will give you a better idea of this car’s upscale mission, and the entirely new upholstery makes it look like a far more expensive car. The door panels were replaced when the car was painted, and there’s a new black vinyl top (including header bows) overhead, and it’s all in fantastic condition. The Karmann-Ghia was wider than the Beetle, so it feels spacious inside despite the close-coupled body, and there’s no doubt that it has a very international feeling with the wooden dashboard and elegant VDO gauges. The 4-speed manual is a great travelling companion, endowing the car with agile performance that fits its looks, and even the back seat is acceptable for short trips with friends. An original Becker AM/FM stereo system fills the car with vintage sound when you’re out cruising, a perfect accompaniment to the flat-four’s staccato chirp.

That 1500cc air-cooled flat-four was fully rebuilt to stock specifications and assembled using factory parts, so it looks highly authentic and runs beautifully. The Karmann-Ghia’s wider body and flat deck allows unprecedented access to the engine bay, which is tidy and well-maintained throughout. New carburetors are fed by a fresh gas tank up front, the ignition system shows new parts, and the exhaust system was replaced during the refurbishment and wears polished tips. A clean chassis is the perfect platform for the convertible, and with new floor pans and upgraded suspension components, this one is ready to drive. New chrome wheels give it the perfect vintage touch (and wear modern 165R15 radials that definitely improve ride and handling.

In the same owner’s hands for more than 20 years, this car also includes receipts for much of the recent work, adding up to more than $12,000. This is a Ghia that’s ready to drive and enjoy. Call today!

Karmann Ghias are a bit of an obscure classic but have a strong following amongst the Volkswagen community. Almost $20,000 is strong money for one, as the best examples may reach into low to mid $20,000 territory. This one certainly looks like a minter and it might just bring the asking price to the right person, if, in fact, the pictures do it justice.


One Comment

  1. Harrison
    Harrison May 2, 2013

    If there’s no rust and if the mechanicals are solid then why not go for some style? Though I prefer the “lowlight” Ghias instead, good luck finding one of those for 20 grand.

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