Stunning Type 34: 1968 VW Karmann Ghia

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The Type 34 Karmann Ghia, to me, is one of the most beautiful cars Volkswagen has ever produced. Offered in limited quantities and never officially in the United States, good examples are few and far between. This car appears to have lead a comfortable existence with no significant flaws and a striking color combination of Lotus white over a red interior. Find it listed here on eBay with bidding over $15K and the reserve unmet.

The Type 34 stands apart from its more convention Karmann Ghia siblings with a unique design penned by Italian automotive designer Sergio Sartorelli. The Fiat 126 is another example of his handiwork, and a quick Google search reveals he was honorary president of the Italian Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Club. When I look at this car, I don’t see a Volkswagen – I see Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and Lancia.

The seller claims the car retains most of its original interior, with the exception of the front seat covers and headliner. The carpet, dash, and door panels all remain in astoundingly nice condition, although the low mileage of 63,875 certainly helps explain how this example has remained so nice. It even retains an original Emden radio that still works, and a nicely preserved padded dash.

Powered by a 1500cc mill, the Karmann Ghia continued the rear-engined configuration, but that’s where the obvious similarities ended. The Type 34 was the most expensive and luxurious and fastest VW of the time, at least until the jointly-produced Porsche 914 showed up. They remain an incredibly rare find in any condition today, and this one appears to be one of the best. Prediction? Hammers down over $20K.

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    Very attractive.
    I would squeeze either a Subie or Porsche flat 6 down in it.

    Like 7
    • DougB

      The Type 3 engine is very flat…about the size and shape of a medium sized suitcase. Anything else would likely not fit under the hatch in the trunk, and anything that sticks up above it (e.g. tower to accommodate a Weber progressive carb) pretty much knocks thousands off the asking price. Also, very little ability to hide a radiator for a Subi engine on this vehicle.

      Like 3
    • onree

      Sometime in the ‘eighties I saw one of these with a Corvair engine. A tight fit, but nicely done.
      It was at a CORSA gathering of some kind somewhere in California but I don’t remember the location. Maybe Palm Strings or ??

      Like 1
  2. Rex Kahrs Rex KahrsMember

    Boy there are certainly styling cues that suggest Corvair. And the Germans may have borrowed from the Corvair with the BMW Neue Klasse cars, especially the 1600. So who designed the Corvair, and where did he get his inspiration from??

    Like 14
    • Sam61

      Bingo…I spy with my little eye a front that looks like a 61 Plymouth Fury sans the grill. Ditto on the Corvair beltline and rear end.

      Like 5
  3. That AMC Guy

    The only place I ever saw one of these in person was in a junkyard years ago. Definitely a looker even in that setting.

    Like 1
  4. Fred W

    I also saw one in a wrecking yard and a couple on the street as a kid. “Not officially imported” explains why I saw so few. I sure wanted one but had to settle for Bugs and a Type III notchback.

    Like 2
  5. DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

    Reserve still unmet at $19,900, Jeff.

    Like 0
  6. HoA Rube GoldbergMember

    My favorite K-G. I always thought these were too nice to be a VW.

    Like 2
  7. local_sheriff

    Is that bush in the left background on 1st pic intended to look like a VW Bug or is it just coincidential…?

    This Type 34 is obviously not your typical restorable barnfind,more like ‘upper class mansion stable find’. It seems to be of an extremely high quality standard and will not sell for pocket change. I spotted one in excact same colors at a C&C meeting this spring, probably not as pristine as this, but still very,very nice driver condition. They are surprisingly small but have an enormous presence.

    Keep dreaming guys; if we want anything that resembles this Type 34 we’ll have to search for Corvairs…not a bad substitute either…

    Like 4
    • Poppy

      Yes, that is a Beetle bush. I’ve seen these very photos before. Possibly the last time it was advertised for sale. Gorgeous car. I’d love to own one.

      Like 1
  8. John Rhodes

    Very nice VW.
    I saw a couple in Oakland CA in the past at Richards warehouse.

    He is president of the North American Karman Ghia club with quite the collection of vehicles.

    I used to have a 66 Ghia convert .
    I know just have Old American muscle (67 mustangs and 63 Split Window)

    Like 0
  9. 1950 Tempo Matador Ray

    Good observation Local Sheriff. I too see the image of a Beetle in the manicured topiary 😎 We must have air-cooled on the brain…And if folks like the styling of this Type-34, here are some other models (coachbuilts), to feast your eyes upon…
    Rometsch, Hebmuller, Danenhauer and Strauss. All of these models were built on Volkswagen platforms. Thus far, these surviving units are accounted for, and reside in formal/ informal registeries. Check out the images on a Google search. For any air-cooled fanatic, they’re guaranteed to blow your mind. And as always, continue to “innovate not duplicate”

    Like 0
  10. Lugnutz
  11. Cobra Steve

    Something I have said for years, “Air-cooled VWs deliver more smiles per gallon than any other make”.

    We always seem to yearn after what we cannot (or could not) have…back when I was young, it was the notchback for me. I had to “settle” for a Type III Squareback. Dad had a ’64 Variant 1500 S (Euro model Squareback) and I had a ’69 Squareback. Recently I acquired a VERY original ’66 Squareback which I wouldn’t trade for anything! 54K original miles and it turns more heads than my 328GTS. Truth be known, both give me equal driving excitement…but at different ends of the spectrum.

    Like 5
  12. Little_Cars

    There have been several good write-ups over the past 40 or so years about the development of the Corvair (ne Holden II) style. Two of the best — Special Interest Autos in the late 70s. And later, a Corvair cover story in Hemmings Classic Car sometime in the early 2000s. Both publications by Hemmings are long out of print but can be found online. Lots of factory progress photos and interviews with the stylists. I have the hard copies. You may also want to stumble into the Corvair Preservation museum in Decatur, IL.

    Like 2
  13. Marcus

    Were the type 34 vw Gaia only available in hardtop as this one or soft top also ?

    Like 1
    • moosie moosie

      I was thinking the same thing, a drop top would be nice. I bet if V O A imported these they would have sold a bunch of ’em. In the early ’70s I worked with a guy who had a type 3 Ghia , I seem to remember his being a hideous chartreuse / green color, but a real nice car none the less.

      Like 0
    • moosie moosie

      I just found this on petrolicious

      VW had planned on producing a cabriolet version of both the Type 34 coupe and sedan after a rave response when the Type 34 line bowed at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 1961.

      But not long after, VW realized that Karmann wouldn’t be able to produce the cabriolets at a cost that would be competitive. As with many convertible versions, there are structural challenges, and the Type 34 was no different. Overcoming these would send the prices higher than originally planned, so even after disseminating marketing materials and issuing pricing info, the cabrio was scrapped. Sadly, they never got street time, and the handful of handmade cars that were built for shows remained prototypes. There are only a couple of models left today, resting precious and alone in the Volkswagen and Karmann museums.

      Written by Amos Kwon of Gear Patrol

      Like 1
  14. John b

    Around 1994 i remember a red one stripped of parts sitting on a guy’s lawn in newtown, Pa. The headlights were missing but i still knew what it was being the only Vw enthusiasts amongst my teenage

    Like 0
  15. Little_Cars

    Here goes. Who knew? We all did.

    Like 0
  16. Little_Cars

    And the front treatment of a factory Corvair “super Spyder” showcar.

    Like 0
  17. Little_Cars

    Last one. This one styled with cues similar to the Ghia, and a beautiful execution on an early model 61-62 Corvair platform.

    Like 1
  18. Cattoo CattooMember

    I saw one of these going up the sunset hwy towards the zoo just outside of
    Portland, Oregon. I think maybe I was able to snap a pic of it but it didn’t do it justice so I deleted it. Wish I had not. It must be a rare Vdub as I didn’t recognize it as a VW. I like the look of it quite a bit.

    Like 0
  19. Marcus

    The type 34 Gaia has nice style. I would like to see one in person some day. I do wish I still had my 73 super lots of fun as my first own car after the family wagon

    Like 0
  20. Car Nut Tacoma

    Lovely looking car. I remember seeing a Karmann-Ghia like this parked outside where I worked. I’ve seen Karman-Ghias before, but I’d never seen one that looked like this. So naturally, I had to get a closer look at the car.

    Like 0

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