1958 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

As much as all of us would love to be Jerry Seinfeld, causally trading the most historic air-cooled Porsches on a whim, the reality is that we’re not. But, as ever, I offer a potential solution. The Karmann Ghia gave you Porsche looks on a Beetle budget. Shortly after the Beetle’s arrival in America, VW’s new sport coupe arrived for the 1956 model year. Like the later Scirocco also built by Karmann in Osnabrck, Volkswagen based its model on the normal production line Beetle but the swoopy body came from the Italians – technically, borrowed from a Chrysler, actually. Those lines were notoriously complicated; outside of items that open, the body is one piece and constructed entirely by hand. The rear-engine, rear-drive 1.2 liter flat-4 air-cooled clatter wouldn’t get you anywhere as fast as the looks suggest, but then why are you in such a hurry?

About 400,000 were produced in total and they’re not impossible to find today. They’re also more affordable than really top-tier Beetles and early VW Vans, but more significantly you really do get exotic looks on a shoestring budget still. While getting into a fully sorted ’58 356A will set you back around $130,000 – $150,000, you can get into a beautiful early example of the Ghia fully restored for only a fraction of that price:

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1967 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

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Several Karmann Ghias are still kicking around my area in various states of care. One looks like it’s been daily driven since the early 70s, missing a few pieces of trim but still perfectly functional with no noticeable rust. One is almost entirely patina, like a rat rod but not trying so hard. The last is the rarest to see but still out there, perfectly clean, curvaceous, and complete.

Today’s beautiful Castilian Yellow example is on the latter end of the spectrum thanks to covering just under 50k miles in 47 years. The tan and chrome suit these cars well, and it’s hard to believe that the original paint can shine like this. The interior similarly looks perfectly vintage but hardly used. The wooden luggage rack is a cute look, but not for everyone. Ghias are beautiful and desirable cars, headturners for even the uninitiated and easy to maintain and modify thanks to their Beetle roots. If you’re collecting with an eye on resale value, a low-mileage original is the way to go.

Click for details: 1967 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia on Hemmings Classifieds

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1958 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Convertible

The car enthusiast community is a pretty fickle bunch; take a fairly slow, swoopy 1958 convertible with classic lines, just the right amount of chrome and enough charisma to make you smile. Put a Mercedes-Benz star on it and call it a 190SL, and it’s a $150,000 – $200,000 car with a well-heeled following; put a Volkswagen badge on it and it’s a $20,000 – $40,000 car with a cult following. But appreciation for the Karmann Ghia is growing, and these early “low light” early models are the most desirable. With a clean restoration and the right classic color combination, I’m left wondering why anyone would choose a 190SL over this:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1958 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Convertible on eBay

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1956 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

It seems these days the blueprint to own a classic car in good condition is to go to a big-headline auction and pay ever-increasing amounts to get the best and most unique example of a particularly popular run of car possible. Look at the 911 and E30 M3, though they’re not alone; the frenzy over prices has created its own “Hemi” moment as prices double on a year over year basis. Where does that leave enthusiasts? With plenty of options, thank you very much. If you want a classic Porsche like the 356 or early 911s but just can’t stomach the incredible bills associated with those cars, why not consider the early Karmann Ghia? Seriously, to someone who was uninitiated, if you took the badges off of each and swapped them around, it would be easy to believe that the 356 was a Volkswagen product and the Karmann Ghia was the Porsche – its sleek lines look, if anything, more sporty than the 356. Classicly styled, long and low and with that trademark flat-four soundtrack that drove several generations, the Karmann Ghia is one of the few classic German cars that is still quite affordable but will make you feel like a million dollars wherever you pull up – especially when presented in the condition of today’s 1956 example:

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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.