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Sporty Beetle: 1969 VW Karmann Ghia

You can call a Porsche 356 an expensive VW Beetle, but those cars are actually quite a bit different than the Bug. Now the Karmann Ghia on the other hand truly is a re-bodied Beetle. It share’s the same floor pan, suspension, engine, transmission and just about everything else to get it down the road. That being said, there’s something about the Ghia that just makes it feel more sporty than the Bug. At one time, these cars were still quite common and could be had for little money. They still aren’t fetching crazy money and you can pick one up like this one, listed here on eBay, for $2,900.

Buying this one won’t break the bank, but restoring it to mint condition is going to get a bit spendy. Given it’s close relation to the Beetle, parts are easy to find and typically quite cheap, so it isn’t an expensive vehicle to restore from a mechanical standpoint. Heck, even the interiors are cheap to get. It’s the rust that is going to cost to fix. It certainly isn’t the rusty example we’ve ever seen and if you are handy with a welder, you could do the repairs yourself, but if you need to pay someone else to repair it, it might get expensive. The seller claims that the floors are solid though, so the issues might be limited to just the rockers.

Here’s the classic VW air-cooled boxer engine. It looks to be quite clean but hasn’t been started in about 10 years. These are robust engines though and since it still turns by hand, it seems likely that it will run again without much work. This 1.5 liter engine is good for just a little over 50 horsepower, so don’t expect blistering performance if you do get it running. One of the cool things about its underpinnings is that you can easily upgrade the engine. There are lots of bolt-on upgrades or you can buy a worked over performance engine that will bolt right in!

The dash and jambs give away what color this car originally was. Bright orange seems to have been one of the more popular colors for these. While the dash is going to need to be cleaned up, the interior looks surprisingly nice.


While the rust is worrisome, but if the rest of the car is solid, it might just be worth getting. They aren’t fast cars, but they are fun to drive and there’s really a lot of things you can do to make them even more fun. It’s going to need some work and a new paint job, but it could be an affordable project for someone just getting into the hobby! And if values continue to climb, it might even be a worthwhile investment.


  1. Beatnik Bedouin

    Reminds me of a New Zealand fish, called the Orange Roughy. That one would be a major undertaking for a restorer or custom VW builder.

    Like 0
  2. Wolfgang Gullich

    So, the floor plans in a Ghia are different than a Standard Beetle and the suspension is slightly different as its track is wider and lower. It’s more accurate to say the Ghia was Beetle-based. Also, 1500 engine had a whopping 57 horsepower!

    Like 3
    • Dave

      Beat me to it. While parts are similar in styling, most ghia parts are ghia only, abd not interchangeable with beetles.

      Like 1
  3. Steve

    Original color is not “bright orange”. It will be L31(k) Sunset (orange). A much more muted richer tone and not brash or flashy. A very uncommon color and I can’t remember seeing one in person. I like it.
    Upholstery will be a dogtooth pattern (cloth inserts) in either light sand or black with leatherette sides.

    Like 6
  4. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Back in the early 70’s, a guy I worked with had one of those convertibles. Very fun car to ride around in. I know it was all in my head but it seemed when running around in it you’re going at least 10 mph faster than you actually were.

    Like 1
  5. Fordfan

    Worlds slowest sports car

    Like 3
  6. 68custom

    I think these got upgraded to front disc brakes but unsure what year that happened.

    Like 1
    • steve

      Pretty sure it was in 1968. Big changes across all lines Type 1(beetle/Ghia) Type 2 (bus) Type 3 (square/fast/notch “backs”). The ghia I believe got the discs first since it was “sports” car. Lol.

      Like 1
  7. PatrickM

    I’ve always liked these. Not knowing much about cars, outside of appearance, I was told these were Italian Volkswagons…made by VW but sold in Italy. But, what did I know? I’m grade school we are so naive. Yeah, Is like to have one.

    Like 0

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