Broad Ripple is one of Indianapolis’s few hip, happening neighborhoods, which makes it a happy old-car hunting ground. I suspect that the street-parked survivors are owned by locals, while the lovingly pampered classics are driven there by people from wealthy neighborhoods who want a little Broad Ripple cachet to rub off on them. This delightful Karmann-Ghia could belong to either group.
I found it parked in front of a natural-foods store, just the kind of place a local would visit. Yet it’s very clear that this car has been pampered and well-loved. In any case, it just seems right to see a Karmann parked here.
We’ve dealt with the Karmann-Ghia before (CC here), but here’s a snapshot view: In the 1950s, Volkswagen was known for reliable but unexciting cars. German coachbuilder Karmann teamed up with Italian design firm Ghia to change all that, at least in the looks department. Ghia designed the body, which Karmann built and then dropped onto a modified Beetle chassis. A total of 445,000 Karmann-Ghias were turned out over the car’s run, from 1955 to 1974.
As a true Volkswagen of its day, the Karmann changed very slowly over the years, which makes it hard to pin down model years. The few things I know about Karmanns tell me that this one is from the 1960s; until 1960 the headlights sat lower on the fender tips, and these are 1960s-style front turn-signal lamps and tail lights. This thread at TheSamba.com, which charts the K-G’s changes in greater detail, helped me triangulate this car’s age more precisely: It lacks a fuel-filler door on the body, meaning it’s pre-1968. Because there’s no Volkswagen badge on the decklid I thought at first this might be from 1962, but the restorer must have left the badge off as this car appears to have the wider rear track that debuted in 1967, plus some other features that date it to later than 1962.
I grew up on a 63 Karmann-Ghia, I took that thing to the far side of hell and back. This could be a 62, maybe newer though. Handicap plates? I don’t think handicap people can ride around in one of these!
I think those are actually disabled veteran plates, making this car even more enigmatic!
I’m calling it a ’67, if it’s a US version. It appears to have the wider rear track that was new for 1967, but not the side rear reflector that came in 1968. If it’s an unofficial import (which the front license plate suggests), then it might be a ’68 or ’69. The vented wheels and flat hub caps started in 1966. Also, the black steering wheel replaced the white in 1965, I think.
I don’t know for sure, but I’d doubt ’68 or ’69 simply because in ’68 they added a fuel filler door to the body, and this car lacks one.
Then ’67 it is!
The reverse lights also call it out as 67. My father had a ’67 Beetle and it was the only Type 1 with “old style” bumpers and stand alone reverse lights.
The 4-bolt wheels it has were started on the ’68 model year. The bumpers with over-riders were used through the ’71 model year. Front signal lights went to horizontal in 1970. But the lack of fuel door means its a 67 at the latest. So I think its a 67 but with a newer (68 or later) chassis (or at least newer drivetrain and front axle with the 4-bolt wheels.
I bought this color 1967 Karmann-Ghia in Boston in 1973 with only 30k miles. Paid $700. This car was beautuful. Handled very well and was very comfortable. I could parallel park anywhere and pop the clutch solo. Only hitch…had a major rust problem so heat ducts bringing heat forward were gone. Had to give up in 1976 when frame rusted out to point where I could not jack up to change tire. Loved that car! I then pulled engine and installed in 1968 Super Beetle with blown engine. Those were the days… and that was THE car! RIP…
I do like crunchy granola and I do like the KG. Didn’t know I was part of a set but if you let me drive that for a little while I’ll just go ahead and admit it.
One thing that’s nice about the KG is that the battery is in the engine compartment on the left side. This makes it (somewhat) less susceptible to rust. I miss my ’70 KG, it was in as nice a condition as this one when it died a viking death.
(Note to self – when you buy your next KG and restore it, REPLACE THE VOLTAGE REGULATOR AND FUEL HOSE CONNECTIONS EVERY FEW YEARS!)
I still don’t know which of the two is responsible, but five minutes after I parked it, flames were rising through the cooling vents in the hood. No smells or signs of trouble at all on the way home. Insurance totalled it.
When I was a high school sophomore, there was a KG for sale (forget the MY) at the local Fina station for $3000 – this was in Spring 1982. I was taking auto shop at the time and REALLY wanted that car. I was mowing lawns fairly steady, but with school, track, etc., I couldn’t raise that kind of money in a short amount of time. It never occurred to me to contact the owner and try to negotiate the price, payments, etc.
The “car that got away” for me will always be the ’72 K-G I found in 1989 for $2500 — no undercarriage rust, only a tiny bit of body-surface rust. The 60k on the clock may have been actual, i.e., hadn’t rolled over once or twice! But I was fresh out of college and was broke, and with no credit history nobody would lend me the dough. Not even Guido on the corner who’d break your legs for lack of payment. I had to let it go.
It was probably just as well – for me anyway. When I went to Ga Tech, one of my friends had a KG that was pretty cool when it ran. But I can also remember seeing him broken down in various locations around campus, either hearing the wa-wa-wa of the starter or just abandoned after he gave up on it for the day. Ga Tech and NROTC was so time consuming and mentally taxing that dealing with a car, any car, would have probably broken me financially, academically, mentally, etc. I wasn’t one of the rich kids with a new car courtesy of mom and dad.
I gotta say my favorite granola is Anahola Granola from Hawaii. Come to think of it, that would be my favorite place to drive this KG as well.
Driving to Diamond Head in the KG to hike up and eat granola at the top. After 14 inches of snow yesterday that is my wish for today..
Forgotten all about these,never knew they had such a long production run.I remember making a model of one as a kid.The real ones were a rare sight compared to Beetles
I think the W123 and just about any RWD Volvo vie for the title,
Wow! I had never even seen one of those and I knew none of that history. It’s an awesome car.
Great blog and pix. Thanks!
(I can see that this isn’t your personal blog because you didn’t tell us anything about the camera you used to take the pictures. 🙂 )
Well, since you brought it up, the first photo was taken with a 1946 Kodak Monitor Six-20, using Kodak E100G slide film!! The rest were taken with my Palm Pre.
If it’s an air-cooled V-Dub I want it. It’s really that simple.
I grew up in a VW family and have owned and loved a couple since. But I’ve never “gotten” the KG thing. Unlike a few cars that I did not appreciate in my childhood but came to admire later, the KG looked dopey to me then and still does today… bad proportions and unsophisticated detailing all around. By comparison, the Volvo P1800 struck my young eyes in somewhat the same way, but I’ve grown to admire and lust after it.
At least it doesn’t have the fake Continental spare like the Chrysler D’Elegance…
I just noticed that this car has a modified exhaust, not the stock twin pipes.
Great car. This would be very much like the one that my hip, happening parents bought in 1959 or 1960 (to go with the Ford Anglia), right down to the color. Although it is before my memory starts, I am told that I logged a lot of time in the little shelf behind the seats. I would imagine that it was a delight in the winter in and around Ypsilanti, Michigan. A growing family saw both of the imports traded on a 61 F-85 wagon.
I am also happy to report that Mr. Grey and I had a sit-down the other night to iron out our long-simmering territory dispute in the Indianapolis area. We have acknowledged a grudging respect for each others’ territories and have reached a truce. I trust that this is the last CC car of his that I will see from east of Meridian Street. 🙂
You will notice, JPC, that we had that peace summit on MY territory, just barely west of Meridian!
It’s true, JPC is an east-sider and I’m a west-sider. We don’t hold it against each other.
Glad to hear that a peaceful agreement has been reached.
Just remember that Ypsilanti, Michigan is now MY territory these days (well, when I go to visit every few weeks) 🙂
BTW, cute car! It would look right at home in Ann Arbor too.
Yes it would. Ann Arbor isn’t too far from my hometown of South Bend.
Hey I was born in Ann Arbor and my grandparents were from South Bend.
The world, she is so small.
Found this KG in my territory, Capitol Hill-Downtown-Georgetown-South Park, Seattle.
Nice find! I also like the color. It looks to be an early one, judging from the wheels and hubcaps. Maybe a 1960-61…
I write this as I get ready to sit down to my breakfast of home-made crunchy granola….yes; I’d be very happy with a nice KG.
My mom used to make her own, too. I remember its scent filling the house when she baked it. Alas, Mom doesn’t drive. A shame, really.
Knocks you right out of your Birkenstocks, eh? 😉
A friend of mine got one of these for his first car. Red like this one. Don’t remember the year but I think a 66. He traded it for a 69 Camaro White/orange pace car convertible, eventually around 74 that got traded for a new Gremlin. Talk about an eclectic set of cars! Would love to have at least the first two now.
I hadn’t seen, or thought about, these in eons. They were reasonably numerous where I grew up…at first, in remembering, I wondered why they never really caught on.
Then I think about what I lusted for as a 16-year old. The Scirocco was on the list…never the K-G. Why?…especially since the Beetle was “acceptable” and later what I bought.
Probably because the styling, to my non-European eyes, just didn’t make it. Strange styling…strange name…strange car. Neither fish nor flesh nor fowl…it slipped under the radar for many of us.
The styling on this car was more American than most people think. Hats off to Virgil Exner and the Chrysler d’Elegance. Built by – – Ghia.
Somewhere in my ancient slides I have a photo of a Chrysler d’Elegance with a KG in the background that I took at the WPC Club national meet at Lake Tahoe in…let’s see, 1977.
There are two of these in my neighborhood, both coupes. There’s a red one that doesn’t leave the driveway and looks pretty moth-eaten… definitely someone’s project. A second yellow car gets driven regularly. I’ve passed him on the road in my MG once or twice and took a bunch of pictures of his car at the grocery store.
I don’t see very many KGs at all. Quite expensive for what you got here KGs didn’t sell real well when new and of course they rusted fairly fast too. VWs didn’t gain the huge popularity here they enjoyed in the US they were priced up with more modern 4 cylinder cars here and our steep hills and twisty roads don’t really suit underpowered Beetles and unfortunately the KG had the same powertrain. Last one I saw is on the cohort naked of paint and with many non VW patches in the body I saw it again in primer and its gunna look awesome just like that particular Panelbeaters fleet of restored Vdubs.
I’ve always liked the look of “the world’s slowest sports car.” but I think air-cooled cars (or maybe mid/rear engine designs) may be more prone to fire than water-cooled vehicles. When I was a kid, we had a neighbor with a Porsche 914 1.7 (which at one time was destined for a VW badge), and it met a fiery fate. I think Pontiac found the Fiero name to be a little too on-point.
I like these more now than when they were new. Consequently, I know much more about the Beetle than these. I think this one is a ’66 or 67, but I’m a little confused. Did the KG go to the 4 bolt, 8 hole wheels and double jointed half-shaft rear suspension before the Beetle (perhaps in ’66)? I know the Beetle got the wheels in ’68, and the suspension improvements in ’69. Also, did these have disc brakes?
I passed on my chance to own one, someone at work was selling their immaculate 20 year old one owner KG. It was tempting, but I had too many cars already.
The ventilated wheels arrived in 1966 along with the new ball-joint front suspension and new hubs, which also made the flat hub caps possible. In 1967, the rear track was widened, but it was still a swing axle. In 1969, the new IRS arrived (in the US).
The first two years of ventilated wheels on the Beetle (66 and 67) were still 5-bolt. The 68 wheels (and beyond) were 4-bolt. This car has the 4-bolt wheels. Which, as I said above, probably means it has a later chassis/ drivetrain on a pre-68 body (with no fender-mounted fuel door).
Of course, I’m assuming the KG went to the 4-bolt wheels in 68 at the same time as the Beetle. Someone will correct me if I’m wrong.
Ghias got the 4 lug in 1967, a year before the Beetle did because in 67 Ghias got front disc brakes.
Karmann Ghias got front discs in 1967 and went 4 lug a year before the Beetle did.
I’m betting on this one being a ’67. ’66’s had the slot wheels but they were the 5 lug ones and are slightly different. The ones on this car are definitely the 4 lug rims.
Yep, definitely a ’67 then. I’d forgotten about the KG going to 4-lug wheels a year before the Beetle. Thanks Adam.
Gonna bitch-slap anyone who says anything bad about K-G Volkswagens, or Birkenstocks as well!
CC effect in action – I saw two KGs driving, earlier this week after a long time not seeing any. Thanks!
If you go to any aircooled Vw shows, you see all sorts of wheels that are not original to the car. Here my 71 Ghia has Porsche 2 liter wheels on them. But I converted last month over to smoothies and Firestone bias ply wide white walls. These cars now are getting a lot pricier Some restored verts are fetching in the 20 to 30 grand price range And one of the main reasons production stopped on these cars was that the Datsun 240 came out in the early 70’s and it actually was cheaper than the Ghia. It could not compete with the 240Z Note: The original 240 Z’s were also hand built like the KG
Ok, everyone, I’m bowing to peer pressure. I’m changing this whole article to identify this as a ’67, not a ’62.
Just another fyi, the mirror is another sign. In 1966 it was moved to the door, 65-older it was mounted on the front quarter panel just before the door.
A shot of the dash would be a telltale sign as the dash changed in ’67 too.
1960-1969 Ghia changes are subtle.
Back in the mid 70s a friend had a convertible. It was a nifty thing until 5 gallon container of diesel fuel he was carrying spilled…
The front number plate is German, “GAP” for “Garmisch-Partenkirchen”.
When I got to Vancouver Island there were plenty of KG’s still on the road, mostly by Goddess-Mother-of-the-Earth-Yuppie-Boomer-Pseudo-Granola types. Typically they had been bought out of their government jobs early, tuned in and dropped out in the Cowichan Valley. Man-o-man where KG’s popular, they were parked at at every health food store in town.
My family shop started seeing them as soon as we opened (circa 1977) and most were total rust buckets even by that point, and that in a place that rarely ever saw snow or salt. This made them hard to work on as fasteners and the like would freeze. Ball joints were always a hassle, too. I could list all the old VW maladies but the real problem we had was the GMOTEYBPG’s never seemed to have any money, having spent their pension cheques on goofy hippy stuff. I recall having two KG’s on liens at one time and not getting a dime out of the cars because they were so rusty. I remember one of them was so full of bondo that the entire left front of the car fell off due to the weight!
Years later, while in the shady-used car phase, I still had GMOTEYBPG’s asking for a KG.
I’m no fan of air-cooled VDubs, but one day on the Outer Drive just south of the big S-curve in Chicago I found myself head-to-head at the stoplight with a gray (think Steve McQueen’s 911 in LeMans) cabrio. Although my 1960 Plymouth was a rusting piece of crap, it could still pull off 10-second 0-60 times. Light changed and we both nailed it. The KG kept up with me. Pissed me off. That was no stock KG.
Always find myself studying the backgrounds of these photos (and of those on Shorpy.com as well) and before I read more than the headline, I knew _exactly_ where this car was parked!
Count me in on the KG love. I rarely see them around here, but a few usually appear at the local VW club’s car show. This one had obviously been breathed on. It had a very nice red vinyl interior, too.
This is a 1967 as can be identified by the backup lights in the rear bumper, 1968 has the same bumper but… they had round reflectors attached to the rear quarter panel behind the tire, also 1968 was the first year to use trigger door handles where VW replaced the push button to a trigger pull.