Tuesday, April 17, 2012

1965 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Type 34

This could easily be called the first truly popular grey market car.

Back in the 1960s, before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation were created, car makers, from anywhere, any country, could sell their cars in the US with little interference from the government. (I'm not saying that was necessarily a good thing, that's just the way it was.)

Volkswagen was, of course, selling tons of cars here. Lots and lots of Beetles along with some Type 14 Karmann Ghias. In 1960 they introduced the "Type 3" line of cars. These used a 1500cc pancake version of their aircooled engine.

Here in the US, we received the Notchback, Squareback and Fastback versions of the Type 3, but not the Type 3 (aka Type 34) Karmann Ghia. I've heard all sorts of reasons why, ranging from: 1.) VW didn't think an "expensive" VW would sell in the US 2.) The Karmann assembly line would not be able to keep up with US demands. 3) VW was not able to produce the necessary supply of spare parts needed for US dealerships. (It shared the Type 3 engine, transmission, suspension and frame, but just about everything else was unique to the Karmann Ghia.) It was most likely a combination of all 3 reasons.

That didn't keep the car from entering the country, however. Many people brought them back from Europe. Enterprising VW dealers were buying them out of Canada and selling them on their lots at a premium price. While Volkswagen wasn't pleased by this, there was nothing they could do to stop it. Importing a car, any make, any year, was legal.

The Type 34 was built from 1961 through 1969. Both Karmann Ghias were designed by Ghia (of course), but while Luigi Segre did the Type 1, Sergio Sartorelli designed the Type 34, which explains the huge difference in the style of the two cars. A total of 42,505 Type 34s were built.

It's estimated that between 1000 - 3000 are left today, including unrestored, non-running cars. Roughly 35% of those are said to be in North America.

According to the seller, this one was restored around 10 years ago. He says it "runs and drives great" and "everything works."

Given that very nice Type 1 Karmann Ghias convertibles are starting to sell in the $10,000.00 range, the opening bid of $15,000.00 doesn't seem unreasonable for this car.

Located in Patchogue, NY, click here to see the eBay listing.

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