Guys With Their Rides 9: Mark and His Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Type 34
While nearly every car enthusiast can spot a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Type 14, it takes an air cooled VW fan to spot a highly rare Type 34 such as the one owned by Mark from Delaware featured here. As a Beetle owner and enthusiast through the better part of my college years, I remember the first time I learned these VWs even existed was when I read about a Champagne Blue example in a VW Trends magazine I subscribed to at the time. Despite attending a wide variety of car shows in all of the years since, I never saw a Type 34 in person until this past October at the Flemington Speedway Historical Society’s annual car show.
The current caretaker Mark spent an eight year quest scouring every collector car selling source he could find trying to find a Type 34 to call his own. Mark’s persistence paid off when he chased down a mislabeled Craigslist post from Huntsville, Alabama with no pictures (the seller mislabeled his car as a Type 3 Karmann Ghia) that turned out to be the beautiful Arcona White with Black roof example you see here.
If you don’t remember the VW Type 34 don’t be alarmed; Volkswagen never officially offered the car in the U.S. In September 1961, Volkswagen launched a larger Type 3 platform-based coupe labeled the VW 1500 Karmann Ghia. Internally at VW and now among enthusiasts its known as the Type 34. This larger Karmann Ghia was the most luxurious and expensive car Volkswagen made during the 1960’s. Volkswagen management felt the car did not fit the practical economy car image the VW brand portrayed in the U.S. so it was never officially offered here. The styling offered more interior and cargo room than the original Karmann Ghia. Type 34s featured upscale touches such as an electric clock, three luggage spaces, built-in fog lights, round tail lights, upper and lower dash pads, door pads, and long padded armrests. It was the fastest production VW model of its day. It was also the second car ever produced worldwide to offer an electric sunroof as optional equipment. While carrying distinctive exterior styling, Type 34 Karmann Ghia are mechanically identical to the 1500 Squareback and Fastback officially sold in the U.S. Production of the Type 34 ended when Volkswagen launched the VW-Porsche 914 mid-engine targa roof sports car in 1969.
Mark reports his Type 34 was always stored indoors which aided dramatically to the car’s preservation over the years. While the seats have been reupholstered, the redo used original materials. The only thing mechanically Mark needed to replace thus far during his ownership was the fuel pump. He notes that even the coil dates back to 1967.
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