Well, the maiden voyage for the Ghia was a success. I flew out to NM last week and worked some long days with my dad getting the ship ready to sail. My dad used to be a Volkswagen mechanic, so he had done the hard work before I got there. I’ve wanted a Karmann Ghia for many, many years and last year my brother found me one. You have to understand first that my whole family are Volkswagen nuts – no crazy about them, between them all there’s probably 8-10 vans, bugs, campers, trucks etc. So, I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. We bought the car a year ago and my dad just recently had time to work on it. He pulled the 1200cc engine out of it (wasn’t original anyhow) and put a more appropriate 1600 dualport in it, which he happened to have lying around and rebuilt for the occasion. When I got there, he hadn’t really driven it. He was finishing it up as I pulled in with my sister. We took it for a drive and realized that the clutch wasn’t so hot. He had replaced the clutch, but not the pressure plate. Fortunately we were able to get one in town. So, we pulled the engine back out and threw in a new pressure plate, then tossed the engine back in. That was the easiest thing we did all week on it.
The Ghia had been lowered, so the tires rubbed on the fenders when you turned. I wanted to get new tires, but not waste them because of the rubbing. Solution – find VW disc brake ghia spindles. My brother was on the case. We called all around their small town (Alamogordo) and couldn’t find any. James wanted to drive to Las Cruces to get some stuff for his vanagon anyhow. He ended up spending the whole day driving around looking for the new spindles and was able to get them. In the mean time, my dad and I tore apart the brakes to replace many things in the system. I had to pull the gas tank to get to the Master Cylinder (well, comfortably get to it.) I just bought a new one instead of rebuilding the old one since it was only 15 bucks. I pulled the rear drum brakes apart to clean up the shoes and also replace the wheel cylinders on each wheel. Then we had to bleed the brakes (I like that part cause they’re super similar to my mountain bike brakes – and the pads for the front discs aren’t much bigger) We then pulled some wheels off of an old 411 wagon they have so I could have the half-moon hubcaps instead of the plain rims that were on the Ghia (I prefer the chrome.)
My dad and I took a trip around to some fellow vw friends’ shops to get a new turn signal switch (well, new to me) which I then wired in. Then when James got home with the spindles and new tires, my dad helped me pull the modified ones off and put the new ones on. Then I put the whole front end back together and it looks like normal (stock) size tires will even clear (it had 135s on it – they look like wheel barrow tires and are really hard to find!)
Then my parents and brother drove with me to Tucson, where I met up with Brendan. The drive was slow because we had to take it easy on the newly rebuilt engine. Only once, I took it up to 75mph to see how it felt – pretty darn good! We pretty much drove through the night Saturday night as we left pretty late. We went over to Matt’s place Sunday morning to change the oil pack up for the second leg of the drive. I said good bye to my parents and James as they turned around to head back home (yeah, I still consider it home!) It was pretty sad because this was the best time I’ve had with my family in years. My dad and I had so much fun working on the car and my brother and I played childish pranks on each other. My mom kept us fueled with great food and even gave me a homemade quilt for the road. My older sister Cathy played a few pranks too and went shopping with me in El Paso before heading to Alamo. Even my twin, Julie, came down for the adventure – bringing her two boys and husband to cheer me on with my new toy.
Brendan and I headed back to CA for a long lonely drive. My dad had been riding with me on the first leg, now all I had was an ipod. I kinda felt like I was in a movie heading into the Californian sunset and getting waves and looks from everyone on the road. Brendan took it for a pull and got lots of winks and smiles from middle age women and I got lots of bikers and truckers honking at me.
So, enjoy the pics and I’m sure I’ll have many more stories of adventures in this car. We are going to make a roof rack as my bike doesn’t fit well inside. I could take the wheels off and put it in the trunk, but the roof rack should be pretty slick. I think we’ll use a little bamboo!