Today's Down On The Alameda Street car is a clean VW Karmann Ghia convertible. I'm not enough of a KG expert to nail down the exact year on this one, but the taillight size seems to indicate early 1970s.

It's difficult to think of the Karmann Ghia as a true sports car, what with the wait-for-it throttle response of the Type I engine and the seriously funky handling peculiarities of the breed.

Nonetheless, this car has style, perhaps even soul.


If it can be kept from rusting into a heap of reddish powder (air-cooled VWs are the only cars I can think of that develop structurally harmful rust levels in the dry coastal areas of California), your Karmann Ghia will still be running decades after the last street-driven Italian or British sports car of its era has sputtered to a halt.

Having ridden in a few stock KGs, I would say that a dual-Weber 1835cc engine is pretty much a necessity, preferably with straight pipes. Sure, you'll die in a backwards fireball the first time you give it too much throttle in a turn, but at least you won't have to merge onto freeways doing 30 MPH.


If you squint real hard you can almost fool yourself into believing it's a Porsche. No, wait, you can't.

Porsche-Powered Karmann Ghia: Yes, You Can Have One [internal]