Keep The Ghia? HELP!


I am going through a dilemma with my 1968 Karmann Ghia. I’ve had the car for 16 years and need an engine overhaul which will cost $2400.00. (had the first engine overhauled 14 years ago). The car has deteriorated over the years (e.g., when it rains, it rains in the car, can’t use passenger door because if opened, it won’t shut, fair amount of rusting, rubber molding around windows is falling off, etc., etc.) I also suspect that the car needs brake work. I’m in a financial position whereby I can afford to buy a new Mini Cooper. However, I have an emotional attachment to the Karmann Ghia - it’s been a good car to me but because of it’s age and other problems, I’m wondering if it’s worth it to rebuild the engine. I’ve had a couple of breakdowns on the road within the last few years which makes me apprehensive about keeping the car. Logically, I’m thinking that the car belongs to someone who likes to fiddle with older cars. Any thoughts? I’m renting a car now while I’m trying to make a decision. Thanks!!


It’s time for a new car. You described a car that is not worth fixing. There are too many issues. It would cost over $20,000 to restore the car completely, which is what it needs. That should cover the new Mini nicely. You can have fond memories of your Kharman Ghia, but it’s time to move on.


It’s scrap metal, low grade. Never fall in love with something that can’t love you back. A week in the Mini and you won’t even remember the VW…


As I said in your other post, “Why don’t you just buy a nicer Karmann Ghia? For the price of a mini cooper you should be able to find a very decent example, much more fun than anything made today. I bet you could find a pretty good one for under $10K.”

As an alternative, find a good VW shop/restorer and get a realistic estimate of what it will take to get your car back in the condition you want. Make sure you do not have any fatal rust issues before you spend any money on it.


It would depend upon the amount of body rust. Like the original Movado Museum Watch, the Karmann Ghia is truly a classic car. (A character in Mel Brooks’s The Producers is called Carmen Ghia after the car. And I think Kramer drove one on Seinfeld when he had that fling in L.A.) I would take a restored Karmann Ghia over a Mini Cooper in a New York minute. How many heads are going to turn if you drive by in a Cooper? They are becoming as common as Chevys. But if you are driving a Karmann Ghia … ? Be sure to play opera CDs and drive with the windows down.

Go for it. You will regret it if you don’t.


Actually, these cars are cheap and easy to maintain. VW parts are available everywhere and anyone with any knowledge of VWs at all can service anything on them.
The engine is the only pricy thing I see mentioned, and with a little looking you can probably find an engine cheaper than that.

If you feel you must get rid of the car, don’t scrap it. The Ghias are pretty desireable little vehicles and I’ve seen a couple of so-so ones around here go for 4 grand or better. A few real nice ones brought 6-7k dollars.
You should not have a problem selling it if you choose to do so.


You’ve had it long enough to have great memories. Don’t keep it long enough for them to go bad. We take turns with antiques anyway. I say that because you can still get over $2,000 for it if the right buyer sees the ad. The car is more than just a Corvair from Germany, as you have already noticed. It still gets 41 MPG or better on the highway. On second thought, overhaul the engine and fix the door. It’s only the neglect that is causing you to want to sell it. You don’t have to restore it fully, just enough will do. It’s a liberating feeling when you can touch up the paint with a can of Krylon and say good enough.


Bad rust is really the only thing that can be terminal in old VW’s. Keep in mind your Ghia shares most of its parts with the most heavilly produced car in history-- finding parts for it is easier than most cars half its age.

You should head over to They have forums where people will know the specifics of the Ghia body, i.e. where rust is repairable and where it is not. If you’re lucky, you can find a VW restoration shop in the area where they can tell you how bad it really is and what it will cost to get it going again. If the rust isn’t too bad, it’ll probably be cheaper than a new Mini.

Also, $2400 seems a bit high to me for any kind of engine work on a VW. You can get a brand-new air-cooled VW engine for about $1,600, and it really does only take about an hour or two to change it. (Very do-able for even a novice backyard mechanic, by the way)

Also, if you do decide to sell it, The Samba’s a very good place to do so. Or to look for a new Ghia!


Regarding the cost of an engine, you can pay as little or much as you want. these guys sell them for under $2000 to about $5000: