I don’t spend a lot of time talking about air-cooled models on these pages, and that’s a huge gap in Volkswagen’s history. It’s also not so long ago that VW continued to crank out brand new Beetles alongside their water-cooled replacements. The proliferation paved the way not only for the water-cooled replacement models I tend to favor, but some pretty awesome air-cooled examples, too.
Of those my favorite certainly must be the Type 34. I dissected Volkswagen’s first attempt to move upscale in an article on The Truth About Cars last year:
Volkswagen’s Other Karmann Ghia: the Type 34
Basically, like the Phaeton, the Type 34 was a sales failure. It was too expensive – costing about 50% more than a normal Type 14 Ghia. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t a very good looking failure. While the underpinnings were shared with its less exotic 1500 cousins, the upscale Karmann Ghia was aimed squarely at making peasants feel like landed gentry and certainly looked the part. Sweeping character lines ran the length of the car, giving it its signature “razor” nickname. Added to the upscale look in terms of desirability today is rarity. Never imported to the United States, the Type 34 only achieved about 42,500 units – less than 10% of the total number of the more popular and familiar Type 14 Karmann Ghia. But we’re lucky to find one today in Michigan:
The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Type 34 was a curiosity at the Volkswagen shows I frequented in my youth. In the rare instances I would come across one, I wasn’t sure what to make of this two-door with the same name as the Karmann Ghia Type 14. This was the flagship model for Volkswagen at the time, styled by Sergio Sartorelli, who was also responsible for the design of the Fiat 2300 S Coupe and Fiat 126. Based on the Type 3 chassis with the pancake flat-4 engine, this was the fastest Volkswagen of the time and cost the equivalent of two Beetles. Just over 42,000 examples were produced over nine years, from 1961 through 1969. This example for sale in Washington state isn’t stock, but could be a good starting point for someone looking to return one to stock.
It’s been a little bit since we looked at some nice Karmann Ghias, and today there are two lovely but very different examples in the marketplace. These are lovely designs; granted, not the best driving cars in the world – but a car that really will set you apart from the crowd and will make everyone smile. Of the Karmann Ghias, my favorites are the early “low light” models and the Type 34 from a bit later – luckily, here’s an example of each:
It is interesting how classic automotive values evolve and change; take, for example, today’s 1968 Karmann Ghia Type 34. Originally launched as a celebration of the new Type 3 and sporting arguably some of the best looking bodywork ever fit to a Volkswagen, the Type 34 was expensive even by Volkswagen standards in its day; for the asking price, for example, you could buy two Beetles. In some regards, that makes it the Phaeton of its day, and similar to the Phaeton, it has a small and devoted crowd that love these cars. Despite that, values on the Type 34 are below some of the top values for the “lesser” contemporary Volkswagens – notably the Sambas, though good examples do really shine through. Today’s is one of the best; finished in original Lotus White with black roof, this all-original Type 34 is simply stunning:
A rare bird amongst older Volkswagens, the Type 34 isn’t well known despite being one of the best looking products to come out of Wolfsburg. This is in part because the Type 34 was never officially offered in the U.S., but despite this hurdle a reported 400 out of the known remaining 2000 models reside here. With hints of some older Mercedes-Benz models and even the similarly rear-engined Corvair, the Type 34 was a very pretty – though very pricey – option that hoped to take Volkswagen to a new market. Today’s example has already undergone all of the hard work and merely waits for the next owner:
Model: Karmann Ghia Type 34
Engine: 1.5 liter flat-4
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Mileage: 43,500 mi
Price: $25,500 Buy It Now
This Car is for Sale by Owner, No middle men Involved. Earlier listing with consignee did not work out so I am selling it directly. This car is in Tennessee and buyer can pick it up after full payment is made. This is a beautiful car and has never been shown after restoration. INTERIOR IS EXCELLENT. I believe that this is the absolute best restored T34 anywhere in the world. All chrome is triple plated. All guages works including clock, Missing bulbs for fog lights. Electrical SYSTEM has been thoroughly serviced. Mechanically this car is excellent.
Read more: http://nashville.ebayclassifieds.com/classic-cars/nashville/1963-vw-t34-karman-ghia-fully-restored-all-numbers-match/?ad=29855590#ixzz2hHedb7uY
Light “Pacific Green” and white seem to be the go-to colors for older Volkswagens and look great on this car. The interior does look excellent, chrome is redone, and the car is reported to be mechanically sorted. Great, the hard work is out of the way! The photos don’t really seem to do the car justice but it does look good. Value? A bit hard to peg; top dollar on these Type 34s is $30,000 – but that car was sold in Europe where they’re more rare, and it was completely original. Hagerty pegs the value of a condition 1 show Karmann Ghia at about $20,000, but that’s the more common coupe rather than the rare Type 34. I would say this car is probably in between condition 1 and 2 and would guesstimate the value around $20,000 – but at that price, you’ve buying a car that someone has taken care of the major restoration headache. You can therefore be happy to drive to shows and meets in a car that few people know about and even fewer have ever seen; this is a special car, indeed!