The Karmann Ghia That Got Away

You’re driving down the highway, simply minding your own business – either day dreaming about getting sideways on your exits’ off ramp, or stressing about the fact that if you hit rush hour your car will most likely overheat and explode (for me, it’s always the latter) – then all of the sudden, an absolutely radical build that you’ve never seen before rips by as you’re abruptly snapped back to reality.

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes – just sometimes – you’ll get lucky enough to tag along for a few minutes and snap a photo of it to share with your friends as proof. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know any of the true details, the excitement is in the fact that you actually saw it and the mystery it presents.

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And that’s exactly what happened to me at the Summit Racing Motorama hosted by Atlanta Motor Speedway – albeit minus the highway scenario.

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As I was being overwhelmed by all the glorious hot rods in attendance, I spotted a build that truly got my heart pumping: what I believe is a late-1960s vintage Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, with a Chevy 355ci V8 swap and drag slicks out back, restored to perfection.

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The paint was a luscious burgundy, the bay was absolutely immaculate and the body didn’t have a flaw in sight. The fuel cell had been relocated to the trunk, and aside from a good few modifications the interior looked as if it had just rolled off the showroom floor. I honestly doubt the car had seen daylight in over a decade. I was thirsty for answers, but just as my luck has it, the owner was nowhere in sight.

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Reluctantly, I accepted defeat and took a stroll to check out the rest of the event. A short while later, while aimlessly wandering the infield in attempt to fill the void of what might have been, out of the corner of my eye I spotted the wicked little Karmann exiting the venue.

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I sprinted (okay, jogged) through the parking lot, carelessly firing off whatever frames I could capture until I reached the mysterious machine. Was this actually going to happen? I approached the driver’s side window, introduced myself, and started firing off questions. “Please! Tell me everything about this!”

MJones_KarmannDrag

“How long have you had this car? How often do you rip it? What sort of times are you running? What size tires are you on?”

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The gentlemen at the wheel turned his head and with a smirk, blipped the throttle and said, “Fast… and the tires? Big.” Then he rolled off without another word. Son of a b*tch! And what a terrible answer! I was so close, and I was left with… nothing. Just as I’m presenting you nothing but the excitement of proof that this Karmann dragster actually exists.

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And though this post is the epitome of everything I’m not supposed to publish, the hope is that maybe – just maybe – you’ll be able to relate to the excitement and fascination I had just experienced.

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Happy hunting, folks and until next time, you incredible freakin’ Karmann, you.

Matthew Jones
matt@speedhunters.com
Instagram: MatthewJonesPhoto

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39 comments

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1
Dilly Pickles

Any car coverage is better than no car coverage, no matter how lacking it is in specifics. Thanks for sharing this awesome find!

2

Bullet hole stickers?  Yeah probably didn't want to spend too much time with the guy anyway.

3

omg every time i see a manifold-mounted air filter I cringe. All of that soaking hot air being sucked in by the engine bay. fine on a road car, but on a racing car where every .1 of a second matters? COME ON PEOPLE

4

Most drag cars don't have air filters and many pull air from under the bonnet since it doesn't even add up to a .1 difference. Usually the lack of restriction leads to more power than the temperature anyway.

5

Been loving the old VW coverage lately! Nice work. Would love to see more buses (but I'm also biased that way).

6

lost me at front engine V8

7

type34 This puzzled me too. Perhaps there's a story there. One that will never be told it would seem.

8

Too bad the driver/owner was such a prick.

9

dovvv thats not a racing car, its just a fast street car

10

DBLETAP maybe the guy had places to be? asking questions as someone is trying to leave the event doesn't always work

11

@Nate DBLETAP "The gentlemen at the wheel turned his head and with a smirk, blipped the throttle and said, “Fast… and the tires? Big.”"
Mmmmmmm...sounds like a prick to me. I've politely declined telling people about my truck when in a hurry many a time w/out acting like that.  Treat people like you want to be treated.

12

DBLETAP He could have just ignored him but he acknowledged his question with a quick joke. You must not get out much.

13

Dont hate get a v8 would be appropiate

14

I saw pictures of one at the Boise Roadster show from early this year that was EXTREMELY well done -- and designed to go around corners TOO

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gregory_gdp/16615299247/in/set-72157651352691242

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gregory_gdp/16202679473/in/album-72157651352691242/

You guys need to track that puppy down and take some pictures of it!!!!!

15

DBLETAP  That's all right -- we think the same about you

16

dovvv  with the huge vented hood I don't think it'll get much heat soak whilst on the move.

17

I used to get people walk up to me in the most awkward places to chat about my classic, when I've just paid for petrol and the guy behind me is waiting for me to get off the pump for instance. I quite like what this guy said, I actually think it makes this car more mysterious and kind of more interesting because now we will have to search for it for ourselves!

18

Also drag racers often don't like releasing their specs so if people challenge them they don't know what they're up against

19

Ricers do that. On a serious car driver is the only real difference.

20

That is shifter is awful...

21

John280 Have to find that ONE thing to whine about?

22

John280 hater for life

23

That cover shot with the owner's beaming face visible in the orvm tells a story itself.

24

Superb machine. That walnut (?) dash is stunning. This is a way to kick it ot the purists. Pure mullet even.

25

Hate to nitpick (actually I don't, I love it) but the fuel cell was not actually moved to the trunk. 
That's the original engine bay - what this guy did was install a Chevy V8 in the trunk.

26

MattRolls

27

You sound like a PRICK calling other people a PRICK you PRICK!

28

As a long time KG driver, the V8 is OK, but man that dash just makes me wanna toss my cookies. The faux plastic stick-on wood, 1930s' needles, and a mis-matched under-dash tach. Did they run out of bad taste somewhere?

29

@Nate DBLETAP Yep, you got me! ;)

30

@Fiatdude DBLETAP Thanks! :D

31

seal fish Call it like I see it, player.

32

Great. Love the story, so much character, like the car. Dash is porn.

33

Awesome story! Not wanting to start a discussion, but from some angels the VW 
Karmann Ghia is amazing to look at, only when you see the middle section bulging out is when the car looks like a fat cat. The same goes for the Porsche 356 speedster. Amazing car, only not so nice to look at from behind when you see that the front of the car is wider then the rear. 
Sorry for the bad english, not my native language.

34

John280 "That is shifter" may not be stylish, but it is very common in Pro Street/drag circles...

35

Vehicle Specs
Price: US $24,675.99
Item location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States
Make: Volkswagen
Model: Karmann Ghia
Type: Coupe
Trim: COUPE
Year: 1966
Mileage: 23,223
VIN: 11111111111111111
Color: Burgundy
Engine size: 355
Number of cylinders: 8
Fuel: Gasoline
Transmission: Automatic
Drive type: AUTOMATIC
Interior color: Tan
Vehicle Title: Clear

36

Wow!

37

He'd be really heartbroken when a 4cyl VW w a VW engine dusts his KG.. Lol.. We're into the 9s with our daily driven street cars..

38

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