The car is a (Type 14) 1971 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia .. in Willow Green. I have owned the car since fall of 1997 .. having acquired it from the original owner. At the time of this writing the car has approx 33,000 original miles and is all original inside and out.
I first spotted this car in 1991 when we moved to our current home in Departure Bay. On one of the first mornings while travelling to work from the new address I would pass by the Nanaimo Golf and Country Club .. and it was there that I spotted the little car in the parking lot. I was by this time already a committed Volkswagen nut and when I recognized the car as a very unique VW I decided to leave a note in the cars window asking the owner to please contact me about the car. I didn’t hear from the owner and it was perhaps exactly a year later (1992) on another sunny summer morning on my way to work I spotted the car again .. and again proceeded to leave another request in the window of the parked car. This note too would go unanswered …
One early evening in 1993 while I was outside washing my car in my driveway I heard the distinctive sound of an air-cooled Volkswagen. Looking up from my wash bucket I noticed this little green car driving slowly past my house with an elderly woman at the wheel. “My car” .. I said to myself. I quickly moved my wash buck
et out of the way and jumped into my car and proceeded to follow the Karmann Ghia down the road. A few blocks later it would pull into its driveway and into a garage. As the woman exited the car I pulled into the driveway and with as non threatening a look as I could muster I asked if it was okay to take a look at her car. Lucy was very friendly and was happy to have me admire her car. I expressed my interest in the car and over the next few years I would occasionally drop in on Lucy to say hello and sometimes sneak another peek at the car. The car was previously being driven by the spouse of the local VW dealers owner (Harrison Motors) and in 1973 Lucy’s husband Bill purchased the car for Lucy from that dealer “Subject to her approval”. Lucy approved and with very few miles on it the car moved to its new Departure Bay home. Lucy’s purchase was essentially the first time the car had been sold.
On a few occasions over the following years, Lucy had suggested that she thought I would be a good next owner for the car but she never made any promises .. and in fact had stated that “Iggy” (the VW dealer owner) had asked for the first option to buy the car back if she ever decided to sell the car. Iggy was now living in a high rise apartment building in Toronto. I didn’t think the car deserved a move back East and with my urging Lucy asked Iggy about the possibility of selling the car .. which he was okay with. Some more time passed … and on a whim in fall of 1997 I phoned Lucy up and asked her if she wanted me to bring her over a cheque for the car. My heart immediately sank when she said “David .. I don’t want you to take this wrong way” (I thought she had sold the car). She explained that somebody from the VW dealer had been over and had made her an offer on the car. When I realized that she still had the car I reminded her that she had told me on a few occasions that she felt that I would be a good “next” owner for the car .. so with that in mind I made her an offer on the car. She said .. “Well David … in that case you can have the car”. So in the fall of 1997 after a rather impromptu phone call I was now that owner of the Karmann Ghia .. with just 19,000 miles on the odometer. When I was leaving with the car I asked Bill how to put the (convertible) top down. He looked at me slightly confused and said .. “I don’t think we ever had the top down David”.
The car sits in the garage with another VW to keep it company and only goes out for drives or car shows on sunny days.
The Type 14 Karmann Ghia was the brainchild of the Wilhelm Karmann GmbH (Karmann) who had proposed a “sports” type car to Volkswagen with limited response. Karmann in response would have the Italian design studio “Ghia” create and build the concept. The car which would debut at the October 1953 Paris Auto Show as a styling concept created for Ghia by Luigi Segre. The design and prototype were well received by Volkswagen executives, and in August 1955, the first Type 14 Ghia was manufactured in Osnabrück, Germany. Public reaction to the Type 14 exceeded expectations, and more than 10,000 were sold in the first year.
In contrast to the Beetle’s machine-welded body with bolt-on fenders, the Karmann Ghia’s body panels were butt-welded, hand-shaped, and smoothed with English pewter in a time-consuming process commensurate with higher-end manufacturers, resulting in the Karmann Ghia’s higher price.
The Type 14 Ghia was marketed as a practical and stylish 2+2 rather than as a true sports car. As they shared engines, the Type 14’s engine displacement grew concurrently with the Type 1 (Beetle), ultimately arriving at a displacement of 1584 cc, producing 61 PS (45 kW; 60 hp).
In August 1957, Volkswagen introduced a convertible version of the Karmann Ghia. The Karmann was produced from 1955 to 1974 although the 1974 models were reportedly 1973’s that had not sold. In total there were 364,401 Coupes built and 80,837 Convertible built over the model run.