Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles found parked on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. When we had the quasi-abandoned '70 Karmann Ghia last month, I got a flood of emails from rusty-state readers who were aghast that such a rare car would be allowed to go to The Crusher. Thing is, Karmann Ghias aren't at all rare around here; I've been passing today's car- which is located just a few blocks from my house- for months and months, figuring I'd get around to shooting it one of these days. And here it is!
This one might not be a '74, but the bumpers place it somewhere in the Malaise Era. It's a Beetle under the skin, but for some crazy reason the sporty Karmann Ghia actually weighs more than the utilitarian Beetle: 1,919 versus 1,831 pounds. Both cars got the 46-horsepower 1600 engine. Yes, US emission-control regulations were tough on the air-cooled VW.
The price tag on the Karmann Ghia was pretty nice for a convertible: $3,935. Still, that was 10 bucks more than the 78.5-horse '74 MGB, and $970 more than a Triumph Spitfire. Wait, was the Spitfire really that cheap, or is the Standard Catalog mistaken?