Field Find: 1958 VW Karmann Ghia

This 1958 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia is described as a desirable low-light model that has unfortunately been left to deteriorate outdoors while awaiting restoration. The seller claims to have bought the car with every intention of restoring it, but outdoor storage on a dirt surface caused the floors to rot out. The body is coated in surface rust, and while it does have an engine, it is not matching (but supposedly correctly date-coded.) Find the Karmann Ghia here on eBay with bidding over $3K and no reserve.

The early production Karmann Ghias are indeed more desirable than their newer siblings, and the seller claims he’s seen restored examples reach six-figures. I’m sure it’s happened, but it’s rare – and this one needs enough work that I’m not sure it’s worth doing a proper restoration on. I’d live with the patina’d finish and fix the floors, along with a spot of rot-through the seller noted around the bottom of the hood. All glass looks good and four matching hubcaps are still attached.

The seller mentions, curiously, that he bought the car based on a tip that legendary author John Steinbeck was a previous owner, but that turned out to be a falsehood (obviously). He does retain the pink slip going back to 1966 when the last owner bought the coupe, and fun fact: if you Google the address on the paperwork, that is now a $2 million property in California! West Coasters, I do not envy your real estate market. That aside, the seller mentions the air cleaner is missing from the non-original engine, and doesn’t mention if it turns.

The interior reveals years of sun and moisture exposure, with surface rust coating the dash and the seats looking plenty threadbare. As noted, the floors will need replacing, but so will everything else is perfection is a goal. The seller notes that he did try sanding the body in spots, and it easily cleaned through the surface rust in that spot. Not saying it’s particularly scientific, but the rust seen here is typical West Coast deterioration, and not Rust Belt annihilation. A big project but a worthy one? You decide.


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  1. Ian C

    The low-lights were by far the best looking of the Ghia’s. This one looks be well worth the effort of restoring.

    It looks like someone agrees with me because the ad says “no longer available”.

    Like 7
  2. PDXBryan

    The DSM must have a name for the mental disorder that causes men to hold on to the delusion that they’ll eventually start a project even as they watch, year after year after year, the cherished vehicle dissolve into the terra firma.

    Like 7
    • Mike

      I suffered that disorder buying a trashed ’68 Triumph Daytona. Took 2 years collecting parts and then letting it all sit for another 6 before I handed it of to a restorer who finished the bike in under 6 months. Sometimes you either have to finish it yourself, let it go or bite the bullet and pay someone else to finish it off. That was 20 years ago and I blow out the cobwebs on it about twice a month. The feeling of having it done makes you think why, why, why didn’t I get it done earlier. Go out and get those project done! No more searching for parts or constantly moving it around the garage to be forgotten for another year.

      Like 2
  3. Dave Suton

    Do they make panels (floorboards, exterior) for these?

    • Sam

      Yes they do , klassic fab makes the floor boards for 360 usd per side, and a k company called Californian classics makes a ton of other metal

  4. Little_Cars

    Ian C and the rest of you V-Dub fans….what exactly is a “low light” Karmann Ghia? Something to do with the front headlights or indicator lamps?

    We in the Spridget world reference a period where Sprites and Midgets came with high front parking lights and low mounted chrome bumpers.

    Like 2
    • Sam

      The period from 55-59 the headlights sat approximately 2-3 inches lower than the 60-74 models plus the low lights had smaller fresh air intakes as well as smaller tail lights an they were also each hand formed over wooden bucks to achieve the shape , 60-74 they were machine stamped

  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    Headlight location was raised on the later models to meet US laws. Porsche and almost everyone else did the same thing, ’60 356B a good example. Ghias and Beetles used the same chassis pans so it’s almost easier to source a good one and bolt the Ghia body on it.

    Like 1
    • Steve RM

      Beetles and Ghias share a lot if parts but the floor pans are different.

      Like 3
  6. Fred W

    Not Steinbeck’s, but Jon Voight’s car. Before he got the woody droptop.

    Like 5
  7. Rex Kahrs Member

    Maybe that’s why I could just never love the Karmann-Ghia…the raised headlights. I find this body more appealing.

    Like 3
  8. Classic Steel

    I have put together a 66 Ghia convert in worse shape before . The hardtop probably saved some of the structural integrity and the engine tray seems intact.

    These cars have lil power to get up hills unless one puts a built scat motor in them. (Save the original after validation its original)

    The heater channels usually rot and have to be swapped but again hardtop could of helped. Don’t actually think the car will get warm in extreme cold .😏

    There are many parts made for these and a nice club that helps share information and parts too.

    I have met Richard the club president in past and saw his many cool German car collections. (Were talking high dollar vw early models and vw
    trucks to 356 and 911 Porsche’s)👍😎

    I hope some puts it together. The poster should put this on the club site 👍👀

    Like 4
    • BOWDN

      A friend had a Ghia and a Corvair with intentions of putting the 6-cyl in the Ghia. Another unfinished project that I would have loved to see completed.

  9. Todd Van Winkle

    Love the early Ghias..the tops of the fenders are just a touch higher than the later models..such a beautiful Vee Dub!

    Like 3
  10. Paolo

    Owner “regularly changed tarp”. There’s your problem right there. Do not tarp your vehicle. It only traps moisture. Take a look at that dashboard for an explanation.

    Like 3
  11. Andrew Franks

    It will be a hell of a lot of fun to do, parts are everywhere, and expensive. If you intend to keep the car for a while either as a driver or as part of your collection call the Seller and ask what the price is and don’t mess around with bidding and auction nonsense. If the Seller is not on another Planet regarding price, jump on it and have some fun. There’s no rush. They are large Erector Sets. You’re probably all too young to know what that is. Short
    story: I had a LowlIght done several years ago and it was parked briefly in
    front of my house. A man knocked on my front door with a checkbook in his hand, and simply asked me how much right now and pointed at the car. I reluctantly sold it and did well on the profit side. He lived three blocks away. I wish I would of kept it.

    Like 1

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