Rob’s 62 Karmann Ghia

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The time has come to share another groovalicious ride with our readers and this time I thought it would be cool to cover a 'not so stock' vehicle.

We haven't really covered anything before that has the potential to rip your hair out. I thought it would be great to cover Rob Gilbert's 62 Karmann Ghia. Amazingly, it has never been covered in an article before - so here goes.

The story starts with Rob driving down South Road about 12 and half years ago, cruising past the then V-Dubb Centre, when he saw it. The silver beast sitting in their yard.

Two days later, Rob went back and that was that - it was love at first sight. I am told that at the time he was thinking of purchasing a classic car along the lines of a VW or Holden.

Apparently this Karmann Ghia was originally delivered to Melbourne in 1962.

The previous owner had quite a few Porsches and something just had to go. He had restored the vehicle about three years before Rob purchased the vehicle

One of the most striking features of this car, and I am sure you will agree, is the fantastic paint job. It is a Mercedes Benz colour known as 'Astral Silver'.

The car has been thoughtfully lowered about an inch all round, giving it a nice even stance which avoids going into panic stations when running over 50 cent pieces.

The tyres are 195s at the front with 205s at the rear. These are wrapped around original 16 inch Fuch wheels which really set this car off. The four wheel disc brakes come into play when it's time to hit the anchors.

The seats (together with white piping), door panels and squab seat have been reupholstered by Allan Smith in burgundy and he has done a fantastic job

Allan used supple Scottish Connolly leather (not cheap) which contrasts magnificently with the paint job. The perforated headliner has been redone to perfection, as have the sun visors and he installed carpet that matches wonderfully with the burgundy leather.

The Ghia had a tired 1835 which Rob rebuilt and this ended up being installing in his beetle at the time. Henceforth a new powerplant was the order of the day.
Rob wanted a high performance, large capacity engine, but something that had a reasonable amount of drivability for day to day, stop and go traffic.

So it was time to get out the shopping list and hunt down the various engine components required from the USA. These included many Scat Performance parts.
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Engine Specs are: H-Beam Rods, C-35 Cam, Mini D Port Heads, Mahle Pistons and Rings, 82 mil crank, 94 mil bore, 009 Dizzy with electronic ignition and 44 ml Weber IDFs.

All of these parts were then handed over to Alf Kamilow who built the engine from scratch. Naturally all components were balanced and blue printed. Alf did a superb job in building the 2276 motor which fitted Rob's needs down to a tee.

It purrs along whilst putting out about 160 hp give or take
- not bad - and if you don't stamp on the accelerator (if?), it returns around 25 mpg.

You will see that the engine bay is remarkably clean and clutter free. One of the things that is so cool here is that Rob mixed up three blends of colour and one blend of clear and personally powder coated the tin ware to match the upholstery - nice touch.

This is mated to a Rancho 'Freeway Flyer' transmission, which for the novice (me) means that essentially the gearing is a bit taller at the higher end. Something that comes in handy for a higher performance engine.

Rob tells me that it does about 3,000 RPM whilst sitting on about 105kph. Apparently he has had it up to 90 with plenty of room to move.

Here's a fact for Ghia fans out there. Apparently with a stock car or reasonably stock car, once you hit 100 mph+ the profile of the Ghia acts as an aero-plane wing creating a generous amount of lift (Holly Myers - you've been warned).

After the photoshoot it was time to hit some windy roads off the beaten track. I simply asked Rob to just have a bit of fun.

Jeepers - love the acceleration. My face turned from smiles and laughter, to glee then completely ashen white as the blood drained out of my face during cornering.

I am sure that if I did the same thing in my Ghia (58) the car would be upside down to say the least. Just great fun. The torquey motor comes into play here for controlled handling whilst cornering hard.

Well on the way back, it was time for me to take it for a drive. Don't forget I have only ever had 36 to 40 hp cars so I was really looking forward to it, albeit with a bit of angst. No need.

The drivability on this car is great. It was an amazing feeling, planting the foot in second and third, hearing the wonderful burble of the motor outside the car whilst being thrown back into the seat.

Just fun, fun fun !!!!
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This car has an amazing amount of torque - simply sensational. No rattles, handles quite well and it was fantastic moving through the close ratio box with no dramas.

The four wheel discs come into play here too. I personally really love the Quietpak exhaust, nice and throaty without drowning everything else out around you.

Rob has been making subtle and gradual improvements to the car over the years. One of my favourites being the gauge cluster console to the left of the dash.

Hand-built by Rob and upholstered in the same Connolly leather to match. Looks great and is very practical holding the gauges (no holes drilled here) and the advent of an extra glove compartment.

Other subtle touches include the two hydraulic lifters for the decklid, Ghia badge on the ashtray, the hand crafted tool box roll, fully restored and plated jack. The list goes on - chrome windscreen wipers (non VW and way cool), Momo steering wheel and the space saver spare tyre.

Rob would like to say a word of thanks to Alf Kamilow for the power plant and to the Keystone/Kent Town Tyre service.

In summary, it's just a beautiful car. Nice clean lines, huey silver paint, burgundy upholstery with Fuchs and a power-plant that all blends together perfectly.

It reminds me of the days reminiscent of cars like the 550 Porsche Spyder or Mercedes. I can't help thinking that if VW did a GT version of the Karmann Ghia then this should have been it.

A huge thank you to Rob for taking the time out to share his cool ride with our readers and for being insane enough to let me drive it.

Until next time - George's Dad

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