FEA­TURE CAR

New Zealand Classic Car - - 1968 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupé - EN­GINE CA­PAC­ITY BORE/STROKE VALVES MAX POWER MAX TORQUE FUEL SYS­TEM TRANS­MIS­SION SUS­PEN­SION F/R BRAKES DI­MEN­SIONS: OVER­ALL LENGTH WIDTH HEIGHT WHEEL­BASE KERB WEIGHT PER­FOR­MANCE: MAX SPEED 0–96KPH PRO­DUC­TION: 1955–1974 1957–1974

Paint ap­peal

Win­ton Mitchell sub­con­tracts to Ngatea Pan­el­beat­ers as a spe­cial­ist painter. He has a spe­cial in­ter­est in clas­sic VWS and kept a watch­ful eye on the body re­pairs, know­ing that he was go­ing to have to paint the car. With the chas­sis and en­gine back at my home in Auck­land, Win­ton was able to pre­pare the body for paint and get to all the nooks and cran­nies that would oth­er­wise be im­pos­si­ble to reach. He was fas­tid­i­ous to the point of al­low­ing me to work only on the un­der­side of the body pan­els, where I did many days’ worth of sand­ing and seam seal­ing be­fore he was sat­is­fied. I of­fered to help with the block sand­ing, but he wouldn’t hear of it. I soon saw why: he could spot blem­ishes where I saw noth­ing wrong, and sev­eral coats of high­bulk primer went on the body, with each coat fol­lowed by more block sand­ing and wet sand­ing by hand. Watch­ing an artist at work is one of the unadul­ter­ated plea­sures in life.

I chose Lotus White for the body be­cause that was the orig­i­nal colour, and se­lected Gobi Beige for the roof for two rea­sons — first, that was a VW colour of the same year, 1968, and se­condly, the colour would en­hance the colour scheme we had cho­sen for the in­te­rior. If a third rea­son were re­quired, I would say that the car’s over­all ap­pear­ance and sub­tle lines and curves are en­hanced by the ad­di­tion of a se­cond colour.

In my view, while not de­tract­ing from the qual­ity of the metal work un­der­neath, the paint­work is per­haps the best fea­ture of the car as re­stored.

En­gi­neer­ing de­cree

While the body was in the paint booth, the chas­sis and en­gine went to Qual­i­tat Euro­pean Mo­tors for the lat­ter to be re­con­di­tioned and the sus­pen­sion, brakes, and fuel lines to be in­stalled. It was then found that the en­gine block was not orig­i­nal to the car and that it was shot any­way. So, on the ad­vice of Qual­i­tat’s work­shop man­ager, Vagn Dyson, we in­stalled a re­con­di­tioned 1641cc en­gine us­ing the old top-of-the-en­gine parts that my wife and I had re­fur­bished — I had al­ready in­stalled new shock ab­sorbers and brake lines.

With ev­ery­thing in place, the chas­sis — now fit­ted with the re­con­di­tioned en­gine — went back to Ngatea, where my wife and I spent a few days in­stalling sound dead­en­ing to the floor­pans and in­ter­nal sec­tions of the body, in­clud­ing the un­der­side of the roof and in­side the doors.

We also in­stalled a new head­liner — that took a cou­ple of days be­fore we were ready to re­unite the body and chas­sis. We fit­ted the doors and front and rear trunk lids — they had been painted sep­a­rately — and then the process of re­in­stalling ev­ery­thing that had come off the car be­gan.

We fit­ted the front and rear wind­screens — both orig­i­nal but pol­ished by Novus — and the steer­ing col­umn (tem­po­rar­ily).

Fi­nal judge­ment

When the body was ready to go back on the chas­sis, I phoned my in­surer and en­quired about clas­sic car in­sur­ance. They wouldn’t al­low me to con­vey the Ghia on a trailer. I begged and pleaded — I had spent more than a $1500 on trans­port­ing the body and chas­sis here, there, and ev­ery­where. No luck. I tried again later but still no luck. I then phoned Vero, and it took fewer than 90 sec­onds to sort out a pol­icy that in­cluded cover while on a car trailer hauled by me. Five min­utes later, my usual in­surer phoned back — and said they had made a mis­take and that they did, in fact, pro­vide cover for the car while on a car trailer. I didn’t take up that op­tion.

Be­cause the Ghia had come into New Zealand dam­aged, the re­pair work had to be in­spected and cer­ti­fied. Barry Robin­son, a qual­i­fied re­pair cer­ti­fier, reg­u­larly in­spected the car dur­ing the re­pair work at Ngatea Pan­el­beat­ers and is­sued a fi­nal cer­tifi­cate (Form LT308 08/14) on Novem­ber 20. A fi­nal in­spec­tion was per­formed by Christo­pher Karl at VINZ, Mount Welling­ton. Vagn Dyson quickly cleared up the three is­sues dis­cov­ered dur­ing that in­spec­tion — a tail light not work­ing, play in the left front wheel bear­ing, and play in the steer­ing box — and the Kar­mann Ghia was reg­is­tered and li­censed on Novem­ber 25, 2015, ex­actly two years, one month, and one week af­ter I’d bought it.

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