So Mom wanted to learn to drive


My Mother really never learned to drive well so she simply didn’t.
During the 1970’s and my mom decided to take a job outside the home. She relied on dad or a neighbor to take her to her job. Not wishing to be continuing burden mom asked dad to find her a car and teach her to drive.
Dad had a co-worker who offered to sell his rusty and battered 1967 Karmann Ghia for $100.00. I guess dad figured if he was unsuccessful in teaching mom to drive he wouldn’t be out too much.
The education ended almost as soon as it began. I was not a witness to the training but it did not go well with Mom ending the training.
Coincidentally I had just earned my license and was driving dads hand me down 1968 Plymouth Fury III VIP. With a 383 under the hood and a part time job it consumed most of my paycheck in gas.
So with moms driving failure I took the Ghia and dad got rid of the Plymouth. That Karmann Ghia at the time was only 7-8 years old but the northeastern Ohio winters ate most of the body and left a nice size hole in the floor. But I loved that Ghia! I drove it like I stole it and totally abused it. I’m ashamed looking back at how badly I treated that car. I recall driving to work one summer afternoon. I worked for my dad. On the trip the generator belt snapped. Not really understanding how important that belt is to an air-cooled VW I continued the roughly 15 mile trip. I knew that I could make it even though the oil was cooking in the engine due to the fan no longer spinning because of that broken belt. When I pulled into the parking lot that Ghia was belching blue smoke causing my dad to run out of the store in a panic! He thought it was on fire but I assured him it was just a broken belt “no big deal” A few hours later my Ghia finally cooled off enough to put a new belt on. Amazingly she fired right up no worse for wear! Later in the year I was hit in the driver’s door as I was pulling into a McDonalds. I told the couple who hit me not to worry as my dad had insurance. Again, dad was not happy.
The Ghia continued to be my ride for the rest of the year even though the driver’s window was gone. In the winter I wrapped a hunters orange sleeping bag around me to stay warm.
Dad inherited his mother’s car after she passed so dad gave me his 1972 LTD. We sold the Ghia to a local VW shop and scrap yard for $75.
I never forgot my first Ghia and in 1992 a series of events led me to purchase a 1970 Karmann Ghia Coupe. It was a nice little red one that I used for daily driver. I was a newly divorced father with three daughters who used to pick them up on weekends in the Ghia. It quickly became apparent that this Ghia was not going to serve well as a family car and I sold it for something more practical.
I remarried in 1995. She is a “car girl” and mentioned that I would someday like to find a Karmann Ghia to do as a “rolling restoration”. She was not familiar with them so I showed her a picture. She was impressed and I started looking for a candidate. I spent a lot of my time at work surfing the then new internet, feeding my Ghia obsession. I eventually found a rough but surprisingly solid 1967 Ghia that was posted in the local newspaper. I met the college student who was selling it to help cover tuition. The Ghia was a California car he drove from Sacramento to Ohio. He was using it to get back and forth to campus. The exterior was mostly complete but the original interior was gone, replaced with some unknown seating. It was probably “customized” several times in its past but it ran well enough to make the deal and bring her home in the spring of 1997.
As I started to inspect my new VW it became apparent early on that a rolling restoration would with the ultimate goal of daily driver was not going to be easy or practical. I bought a work car and started tearing into the Ghia. As the disassembly progressed over the next few years Beth and I decided that this would probably be the only opportunity to attempt a full restoration. I was able to find a body and paint shop that would repair and paint the shell while I worked on the chassis, engine and transmission. Boxes of new parts were arriving from all over. During the time Ghia was in restoration was able to find rust ravaged but complete 1967 Ghia “donor”. I was especially interested in the seating. 1967 Ghia’s have many one year only parts. The seats and many other interior bits are among the one year only items. I sent the seats to for rebuilding and re-covering and sent all the chrome to a plating shop. I installed a wool square weave carpet kit and new headliner. In the spring of 2006 I reunited the completed body with the finished rolling chassis. I picked up the seats and refinished door panels and completed the interior in time for her debut at a VW show in August of 2006.
In the twelve years since I finished the Ghia I have put around 1,000 miles per year attending events and shows. I am very proud of her and love all the attention she gets. I have met new friends that I would have never met because of our Karmann Ghia. Best of all is the joy I get when I get to drive her!


@mhrichmond - That is a great story and a beautiful Karmann Ghia. It is awesome that you get out and drive it!


Love your story. Love how our cars give us such joy and can also be the best medicine. I agree…great that you drive it.