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Karmann Ghia Behind The Shed Find


Karmann Ghias are always controversial when we feature them on Barn Finds. To some, they offer an attractive body with the simplicity of Beetle mechanical components; sort of a poor man’s Porsche 356. Others can’t get past the plebian origins of the Beetle and just don’t see the styling as aggressive enough for their tastes. Take a good look at this behind the shed find and let us know what side you fall on in the comments! It’s located in Elkhart, Indiana and is offered for sale here on eBay, with an opening bid of just 99 cents. Of course, there’s a higher reserve than that!


The seller shows the car in several states; we’re not sure which is current, but we do know the engine is currently out of the car and disassembled for rebuilding. One interesting point is that the seller is pretty sure the car is a 1968, but the title says 1970. I’ve run into something similar before with a Triumph Italia that spent two years on a dealer’s lot before selling and it was titled as the year it was sold, so this may be a similar case. It might be worth checking on, though. You can see both dents and rust from this shot, but the little Ghia is still basically solid.


It looks a little better on this side. Does anyone know if they came two-tone originally? I hadn’t seen one and wasn’t able to confirm the fact by searching the internet.


I’m guessing the nose has been hit in the past, based on the mangled driver’s side grille, missing passenger side grille and ill-fitting hood, as well as the totally different shine on the two headlight trim rings. However, this shot is here more to show the hole above the driver’s side headlight. I wouldn’t want to leave that one for too long.


Apart from the usual split seats and dash, the interior doesn’t look bad, and the seller assures us that the pan is in good condition. The semi-automatic transmission is unfortunate, though, as I haven’t heard much good about it (although I’ve never driven one). Any Barn Finds readers with experience that can share with us in the comments?


The great thing is that reproduction parts are plentiful and inexpensive for Ghias. Since it’s doubtful that the engine is original, I would probably take the next step and install a manual transmission, unless you folks can convince me otherwise. So is this the Ghia for you? And who can tell me more about the semi automatic?



  1. RayT Member

    I like K-Gs! I particularly like them before they got the side-marker lights, big bumpers and giganto taillights. Looks-wise, the earlier the better, for me.

    And I have no problem with them being dressed-up Beetles. If nothing else, it makes parts-gathering a whole lot easier. I’m usually an “originality” nut, but the Automatic Stick Shift would have to go….

    Even with the rust, I think it’ll go higher than the current $131.63…wish it was near enough for me to gather up!

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  2. Rick

    Replacement parts available? Oh no they are not. Patch panels, yes, but no major body panels. And they aren’t cheap, relatively speaking. Rust above the headlight is only the tip of that rusty iceberg. No doubt the heater channel / rocker combinations are shot, and they are the main support for the car. Not an undertaking for the faint hearted or wallet to replace. Do a very thorough investigation before plunking hard earned cash on this one. A major restoration project if it stays under $1500.00

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    • Aaron

      The Karmann Ghia has no panels that come off, so no matter the size, all panels end up being patch panels. Anyway, all the panels that rust are available, and they aren’t that expensive.

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  3. Rick

    K.G. = rustbucket

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  4. Luki

    Front Seats are 1970 and later. Front turn signals are 65-69. Tail lights are 60-69.
    List the correct serial number under the rear seat and no more guessing game.
    My guess is a 68 or 69 with a wrong title.

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  5. Bellingham Fred

    If a KG is a poor man’s Porsche, then is a Porsche a rich man’s KG?

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  6. Chuck Foster 55chevy Chuck F

    Funny, I’ve had 3-1/2 of the cars featured in today’s BarnFinds email, a late 70s Camaro, fast car, a 1966 Mustang Fastback with 6 cylinder, a 1971 Ghia, and a 69 Dodge Super Bee (almost a Charger). The last 3 I would love to have any of, and actually do have a project 65 Fastback, with 2 coupe parts cars, so it will be a V8. My NE Indiana Ghia had a nice paint job in 1978, 7I drove it to college in the winter of 78-78, and it got buried for a few days in the Blizzard of 78. Winter driving meant scraping frost from inside the windshield, due to no heat/no defrost, the windshield would frost over constantly, I guess from the moisture in my breath. The heat channels and rocker were very rusted under nice looking bondo, I found out that spring, like this one it needed a lot of metal repair, and at that time the parts weren’t around, I’m glad to hear they are now available, mine was a fun car and done right it is a better car than a Beetle IMO.

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    • 63Comet

      If your heater channels were shot, there was no way you were going to get heat and the heater running off rpms was fine on the highway but not so much in town. Best was when I spliced in two 12 volt blower motors under the rear seat to draw the heat in that way. Still not as good as a water cooled car, but it is livable if you do that.

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      • Hitman

        Better than a water cooled car some respects tho and with the engine in the rear will drive up hill in the snow while lesser vehicles simply spin.
        Still, probably wouldn’t buy this one, too many issues without even looking underneath (oh the horror!)

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      • 63Comet

        Excellent point on the uphill driving. A neighboring town’s main street had a hill with a good grade and in the winter, the 73 Delta 88 that my dad got for me to chug around in (it was a beat to heck 4 door–tranny died a couple years into ownership) would just spin halfway up. Other cars sometimes did the same for others. The beetle I bought? Drove right up. Not all rear wheel drive, front engine types spun on that hill, but the Beetle would go right past those that did.

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  7. Timothy Risk

    Parts are hard to find for auto stick transmissions.

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    • Luki

      Never seen an auto stick that needed more than a set of shifter points or a vacuum diaphragm. They are bullet proof.

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  8. JACKinNWPA Jack in NWPA Member

    Imports back in the day were often titled at time of sale and dated as such.
    Also here is a pic. of my beside the shed find…really.

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  9. Peter

    Jack in NWPA

    I’m not a K-G fan, but that could be changing, now that I’ve seen your “Resto-Mod K-G:

    Great Stance! I’m not very familiar with K-G’s but those look like some VERY cool, front fender mods, to me–is that a “frenched headlight” look?

    That is the most “menacing” (in a good way) K-G I think I’ve ever seen.

    Can you tell us more about it? How the body mods were done, if the engine’s been “leaned on,” etc…?


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  10. Doug M. (West Coast) Member

    I like K.G.’s, especially when clean and stock early models are found. I also like this one! It’s a 65 that my son bought a few years ago. Car was owned, painted, sold by a prominent Portland, Oregon artist. There are a few buildings around town that match this scheme, too. Fun to park in front of them.

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  11. Zach

    I love the KG, I’ve got a 71 that is a hoot to drive and to work on. As a novice to classic cars it has been a great introduction to the hobby. Mechanical parts are inexpensive and easy to track down but I agree with some of the other posters body panels can be a bit pricey, in particular the nose clip.

    I found mine as a barn find about two years ago and really can’t picture myself not having one now.

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  12. JACKinNWPA Jack in NWPA Member

    Peter, Thank you for the complement and interest. I bought it in 1990 for $500.00. it was fairly solid but did need patches. I lenthened the wheelbase five inches just ahead of the doors. Lowered the front 2 inches. addad 2 inches to the front of the fenders. shaved handels and tail lights moved inboard. custom grill made from a 1999 Buick unit.1986 Escort power mirrors, 1986 Subaru XT steering column. the engine has bigger heads,exhaust,cam and a weber Carb. making an estimated 110 HP. Paint is Harley davidson Anniversy Copper Pearl. again thanks,Jacob.
    P.S. Thank you Barn Find people for this awesome web site!

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