Vintage VW Karmann-Ghia, Real Cars Backfire!

At the 2009 SPOKES Autocross #1, Dak, who I’ve previously posted here with his Body in White, “Flame Job” GTI, brought his new project car, a vintage stock 1971 Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia.  He had been looking for one of these models for years.

Dak’s vintage VW has 117K miles on it.  He’s only the third owner, the first 2 were in the same family – father & son, he thinks.  This Karmann-Ghia had always been garaged – the body & drivetrain are sound.

Due to their age Dak had to replace the tires which he was debuting their mounting, with only 2 days on those wheels.

As I mentioned, all is currently stock, but won’t stay that way for long.  At the autocross Dak was seeing how this vehicle performed, establishing a baseline to see where he’ll be progressing from.  Strangely, the first thing to be changed out will be the seats.  Dak said he was sliding around without any support in the autocross curves.  Also, they weigh 90 pounds apiece – WOW!  Just replacing those can’t help but be a great start to improve this car’s performance in the power to weight ratio arena.

Dak is you typical autocross enthusiast.  Going beyond his daily driver, he’s resurrecting a forgotten vintage car.  His goal is to make it much more competitive, moving it up at least a class or 2 & just have fun with it.  He mentioned working on replacing the engine, transmission & rear axle.  He may go beyond autocrossing and consider road racing (and/or HPDEs – high speed driving events/driver education).  Whether he’s going to continue to keep it street legal or go the ‘bringing the car on a trailer’ route remains to be seen.

Dak is also a great person.  We had talked about the Card Caddie on the side of his VW GTI, some months ago.  On this day he generously donated a red one to the Racing Ready cause!  I can’t see mounting it on the side of my “Big White Whale (2000 Nissan Maxima SA)”, as I don’t see that car as representative of the image of being Racing Ready.  I will have to wait to mount it to its replacement, possibly/probably a Mazda Miata.  Now that I’ve just gotten this new, better job, I will get some bills & other $ issues paid forward …then that “new” car will probably be a late summer project…

Back to the foundation of Dak’s Karmann-Ghia.  This model is basically a nicely rebodied VW (old) Beetle.  I am very familiar with that drivetrain.  When I met my then girlfriend (later to become my wife, Isa), she had just purchased a then new VW Beetle, back in Mexico City.  This was back in 1980!  I enjoyed its co-ownership & use, driving all all over that Mexican metropolis jungle & environs.  After I got my wits about me as to how to drive “Mexican style”, I found the Beetle a willing accomplice to “attack” the streets, there.  Everyday was like an autocross event!  I got to be as “talented” on the Mexico City streets as the taxi drivers down there.  That’s probably why I’ve no issues flogging a car around today. 🙂

Racing Ready enjoys the past & present in the context of automobile fun!


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