Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Once I got all of the "stuff" from inside the car put away for safe keeping, I began disassembly. It started by pulling about 10 miles of "extra" wire out of the car. It was enough to almost fill a 30 gallon trash can I have in the garage. The kicker was all of the wires were red. How in the world the previous owner figured out what was what is still a mystery to me. On day 3, the body was ready to be removed from the pan. I had built a dolly out of wood to set the body on so I could actually stand up inside the car and work on it. That came in handy when I was installing the new dash. As I was working on the dash, I would move back and forth from the dash to the work being done on the floorpan. When I would get disgusted with one, I'd work on the other. Luckily, the floors had absolutely no rot in them. I had to weld a couple holes closed and grind the welds smooth, but other than that, I didn't have to do any repair. Once I had it good and clean, I coated it on both sides with 2 good thick coats of Rust Bullet. Then I painted the bottom of the car with a fleet grade black gloss enamel.

Once she arrived at my house on December 26, 2005, work began IMMEDIATELY. Right away I began stripping out all the stuff that was piled inside and catalogued everything. I pulled enough "extra" wire out of the car to almost fill a large (30 gallon) garbage can. Two days later, the body was off the pan and sitting on a wooden dolly I built for her. The floorpan was stripped of everything. It was all cleaned, treated top and bottom with Rust Bullet (2 good thick coats on both sides). Then the bottom of the floor was painted black with a single stage fleet grade paint. I already had an idea of what I wanted the finished product to be (the "VISION" as my wife calls it), but I began to refine in my mind what it would be. I was going to do everything to this car that I had wanted to do to the other ghia. Euro side markers from a type 3 VW and Pronto-Stabil side mirrors from a Porsche 356 were in order. The car came to me with Euro taillights, so that hunt was not necessary.

After about 6 weeks of searching, what I found was a 1967 Ghia in a little town called Jamul (Hommel) California. The previous owner bought it in 1980 (ish) and turned it into a Cal-Looker. He took it one afternoon in 1986 to put tires on it and on the way home blew the engine. It sat in his garage for 20 years with brand new tires on it. I found it on the Samba, struck a deal, and shipped it to Cincy. It was completely disassembeld. No interior to speak of, no engine, no front brakes, but it was a good solid base to start with. No rust... anywhere. Minor accident damage on the left rear corner that I didn't originally see, but not bad. The dash had been cut out and had an aluminum cover screwed over top with a million VDO gauges in it. That all had to go. My plan was to install a pre-1966 dash face. I like the look of the 2 big gauges better than the post-1966 dash. A dash was sourced (from the Samba) and work began.

It all started back in October of 2005 when I decided some rust repair was due on the '68. The deeper I got into the car, the worse the rust got. I employed the opinion of an expert (Mark Schlachter at Metalkraft Coachwerks) and he said that although my car was repairable, i"d be money ahead to find a car out west and ship it back. The hunt was on.

I have always been a Volkwagen lover. Air, Water, 2 door, 4 door, makes no difference. I bought a 1957 Beetle way back in March of 1994, and it is now midway through a 24 year restoration. I've had 2 Jettas (1986 & 1992) and a 1993 Passat GLX (phenominal car), and 2 1971 Super Beetles (yup, fatchicks). In the meantime, I have "restored" a 1968 Karmann Ghia, and RESTORED a 1967 Karmann Ghia. It's more of a Resto-Custom for you purists, so don't get your panties in a bunch when you see the pics. So here she is... Belle the Ghia. That's the "finished" product above. Anybody who has a car like this knows it is never actually finished, but you get the idea because you are smart. I'll be adding pics and telling you the story of Belle, so sit back, get comfy and enjoy!!