Our endless pursuit to bring you one of the freshest Type 34 Karmann Ghia’s on the streets of Las Vegas…actually in the entire planet!
Words by Tony Matthews
Photography by Tony & Carmen Matthews
There is one major thing that we are truly passionate about at SuperFly Autos, and that is the endless pursuit of bringing incredible machines to life by capturing them our lens and telling the owners story. We first caught a glimpse of Richard’s super clean and slammed 1965 Type 34 Karmann Ghia, on instagram. As I was scrolling through images from the Sema Show in 2016, it instantly drew my attention and I had to know more.
So I reached out to the owner Richard and organised a date to meet to capture some photos with the Las Vegas skyline. But as life can get busy, we couldn’t make it the first time and as time passed, we had to move on to our next adventure. However, we kept in contact and one year later, we were back in Vegas for the CES Show and we had to make it happen this time.
In terms of a brief history on the Karmann Ghia Type 34 was launched in 1961 featuring Volkswagen’s new flat 150cc engine. It was the creation of Luigi Segre from the Italian Carrozzeria Ghia in collaboration with German coach-builder Karmann, that it was bought to life. The chassis and mechanicals was the combination of the Type 1 VW Beetle.
This ‘Razor Edge Ghia’ as it’s also known as is a fantastic work of art on wheels. It’s entire shape is just mesmerizing and we can totally understand why Richard’s wife fell in love with the Karmann Ghia, the first time she saw one. It was when Richard and Shannon were at a car show, when she saw one. They were with their friend Tom Carsten who over heard their conversation as to how they would love to own one.
Lucky for them, Tom had one for sale and as he was known on the car scene as an established car builder and racer, they knew the car would be a good one. Although many Karmann Ghia’s made their way to the USA over the years, the Type 34 wasn’t one to be that easy to find and thus only a few ever made it to the USA. So this was a pretty big deal for Richard and Shannon.
Although the car wasn’t in the best shape of its life, Richard still bought it for $2000 back in 2000 as he knew this was a rare find, plus it would be an opportunity to add his own style to it. Richard has a history of customising Volkswagens, especially the Beetle with his mission to make each one the lowest to the ground as possible.
Richard got his taste of the low life reading Mini Truckin Magazine, where air ride suspension, hydraulics and bodydrops was the way to go, in lowering your ride as far as possible. So with all that inspiration from the magazine articles, he got started and originally had air ride suspension, but he decided in the end for custom made hydraulics to get that perfect drop.
Richard wanted to ensure that the superb styling of the car stayed as intended, with only a few subtle touches. Wheel choice, Richard added a set of 7×17-inch at the front and 8×18-inch at the rear triple-laced Dayton wires, covered with Yokohama rubber. The combination of the slam, the wheels and the white/black colour combination work amazing and keeps the Ghia looking clean. The white paint by the way is a Mercedes 147 Arctic white if you were curious.
However, being the creative and customiser Richard is, a few unique touches had to be made. First off, it started with the engine. Instead of keeping the originall 1500cc, he decided to fit an engine from a Mazda 6, which is mated to a VW Bus gearbox! Now I didn’t expect that when we met on the day. As he opens the hood, you instantly think that the engine was originally intended for the this car. Richard has done such an incredible job to make it fit and keep the engine bay looking super clean.
Not to then out do himself further, he decided to convert the car to right hand drive! Yes, you read that correctly. Take a look inside gorgeous red leather interior and the execution is fantastic. With the Mercedes white exterior and that lush red interior, it gives off that classy look found in old Corvettes, as this was Richards inspiration for the overall style.
As we sit and chat with Richard in the Las Vegas sun, we can’t help but admire the Ghia’s lines as it sits their hugging the ground and we are not its only admires as this lean VeeDub turns many a head as it rolls down the street.