1970 Karmann Ghia



I have come into possession of a 1970 Karmann Ghia. It has not been run for about 18 or so years. When the owner stopped driving it, it was running well. Unfortunately, nothing special was done to store it. Brakes, etc not withstanding, what should be the first steps to get it running. I am assuming I will need new ignition wires, spark plugs, condenser, distributor cap, points, etc. I know taht I will need to check the rubber fuel lines, brakes, etc before it goes on the road, but I would at least like to start it up.

Thank you in advance


If you want to at least get it started, the entire fuel system will have to be rebuilt. Gas sitting in a fuel system for 18 years is no longer gas. But instead is going to be a muddy sludge. So you’re probably looking at replacing everything from the gas tank to the carburator. Welcome to the wonderful and expensive world of automotive restoration!



Was the car’s fuel system run dry of gasoline before it became idle for 18 years?
If not, then the gas left in the tank, the lines and in the carburetor have turned to varnish. You will need to drain the tank, run solvent through the fuel lines, and disassemble the carb for cleaning in order for it to start and run.

In order to be able to stop, you need to drain and flush the brake hydraulic system, and refill with the correct spec brake fluid. After 18 years, the brake fluid has absorbed so much moisture from the air that it is now heavily diluted with water. In addition to causing that old fluid to boil (literally) if the brakes are heavily used, that water may have led to corrosion of wheel cylinders and other hydraulic parts.

Once those items are attended to, then you should focus on things like the spark plugs, plug wires, distributor cap, points, and possibly the coil.

Good luck with the car. I had one (circa 1975), and it was a lot of fun–especially after I cut into the heater ducts in order to install a booster fan. If you plan on driving the car during the winter, you will need to do the same thing. If I recall correctly, I used a blower from a '55 Chevy.


And, remove the spark plugs, and put 1/2 ounce of light oil into the cylinders. Let set a few hours. Turn the engine over by hand, several times, with a wrench on the crankshaft bolt. Change the motor oil, and the other lubricants. Etc.


There was a good tutorial provided in a video put out by ,would you believe this? a major motion picture studio. I don’t know the name of the studio but the video was called “Back to the Future” or something like that :slight_smile:


After that many years the brake hydraulics really should be replaced in their entirety and do not check the fuel lines; replace them. Many a VW has burnt to the ground because of the failure to replace those lines every few years.

The generator belt is a MUST. If the belt breaks and you continue to operate the engine it will roast due to the cooling fan not turning.
Other items will be the battery and tires as the latter are likely dry rotted badly.

Cool car in my opinion and these things are actually worth more than the standard Bugs and Beetles. (at least most of them)