When I was sent this Bay-area Craigslist ad for “VW Karmann Ghia Parts - $50" I clicked the link expecting to see, oh, I don’t know, maybe a couple of headlight trim rings and a broken chrome badge that read “KAR__AN__hi_” but what I found was so very, very much more. This isn’t just some source for Ghia parts—this is a bona fide Ghia monster, and it very much deserves to live.
I mean, just look at the thing—Ghias are such elegant, soothingly pretty cars that seeing one mutated like this packs even more of an aesthetic punch, and while, yeah, it looks deranged, I kind of like it.
Here’s what the seller has to say about it:
Parting out this Ghia. Was configured to do some serious Baja work. A 1970's Sci-fi experiment gone awry, it has a Bug rear seat, massive rear tires, and the fastest engine (180 turbo charged) Corvairs ever had. The body is rusty like is was driven through the ocean. The pan is actually solid. The interior is nice too. This one has not been run in a long time but it rolls and steers. Value is in the engine and parts but if you want to enter it in the Concours de Lemons, you will probably win. OR USE THE RUNNING GEAR AND CHASSIS FOR A SPEEDSTER PROJECT. Or, if you make it run you can take it or some air. The top is fiberglass but the fenders are all steel. Also, it has a 4 point rollbar in it.This is great if you’re trying to fix a Ghia. Calls only please.
There’s the massive fender flares and the (I think) clever reworking of the vulnerable protruding nose into a spare tire well, those big meaty tires, and, of course, that absurd truck camper shell repurposed as a roomier cab rear section.
All these body modifications, along with the algae/filth-organic camo look of the paint makes the whole thing seem like it just drove out of a swamp and you’re moments away from the door flinging open and a wild, be-goggled lanky man with Don King hair to come bursting out, grab you by the shirt, and demand you hand over anything you have made of tin.
That’s just the look—this beast has the oily bits to back the madness up, too, as there’s a turbocharged flat-six Corvair Monza engine crammed in there, making (or, once making) an impressive 180 crazy-horsepower.
The engine installation actually looks pretty damn good, considering. I bet at one time this was a pretty well-sorted off road screamer. It has a four-point cage and everything—I bet there’s some interesting history here.
I know lots of Ghia purists are likely rage-urinating right now just knowing that out there, somewhere, this thing exists, but I think they’re wrong, and so is the seller.
This bold experiment shouldn’t be parted out—it should be resurrected, and unleashed on the uncaring, unappreciative world that rejected it. It needs to be nursed back to health and then released, wild and free, to wreak havoc until the order and chaos scales once again regain balance. Or maybe imbalance? I’m not going to pretend to understand its motives.
But I do know it needs to be, and I’m hoping someone with the time, resources and appropriate level of madness will be there to see it through.
Are they really asking just $50?