This wind-cheating coupe is 60 years young, thanks to four decades in the hands of Michael, its diligent architect owner.

The main reasons you bought this car? 
The overall design made a big impression on me when I was young. After a friend bought a rusty purple example, I took the plunge and bought a rusty blue one. It was enjoyable enough to have me searching for a much better example. This car emerged for sale in the North Island town of Katikati.

When did you buy it? 
In 1986, from an Air New Zealand engineer.

How do you rate the overall condition? 
After much restoration work and spending a lot of money, it deserves 9 out of 10. Everyone compliments me on the condition.

The design features you like most? 
I think the body makes it one of Ghia’s more interesting cars and I see similarities with the Porsche 356, also built by Karmann. I enjoy the simplicity of the dash and the excellent ergonomics of the cabin.

Anything unusual about your car’s history? 
It’s a NZ-new, matching-numbers car, originally sold by Five Star Motors, and its provenance is remarkable. The car had only changed hands three times before I bought it 38 years ago.

How often do you use it? 
Mainly just summer use now, and as often as I can to keep it running sweetly. I used it as my everyday car for three pre-pandemic years.

What are the main improvements you’ve made? 
A full rebuild of the engine and gearbox, with the original block bored out to 1400cc. I suspect it had been repainted in the wrong shade of white when I got it so I returned it to the correct Pearl White with black roof. The painters carefully matched the exterior with the inside of the glovebox.

Any concessions to modern motoring? 
Electronic ignition has been discreetly fitted and there’s now a USB port. Radial tyres have greatly improved ride and steering response.

Does the car continue to meet your expectations on the road? 
It certainly drives better now than when I bought it and I enjoy the fact that it sits low and handles very respectably considering it’s no sportscar. You’ve got to be fully engaged to drive it. The gearing is really good – it’s designed to run all day in third – and the steering is manageable without power assistance. Having disc brakes would be preferable [they were fitted to later 1600cc models) as the original drums feel a bit lacklustre.

Is a shortage of parts now a major problem? 
The availability of used parts from Los Angeles, where these cars were hugely popular, has made life easier than you would expect, although I wouldn’t want to have to replace certain things specific to right-hand drive cars, such as headlights. I reupholstered the seats locally but sourced the new carpets from England.

Any advice for other Kiwi owners? 
Definitely join the Karmann Ghia register. It was started in 2015 and has 68 active and highly informed members.

Do you still have long-term intentions with this car? 
Every time I contemplate selling it, I struggle to think what else I could buy for the money that would give me as much pleasure.

Have you owned other Volkswagen models? 
Two modern Golfs that currently serve as daily drivers for my partner and me.

The first car you owned? 
A 1973 Fiat 128SL.

Anything on your wishlist? 
Certain Italian classics have serious appeal, notably early Alfa Spiders, Lancia Fulvias and Monte Carlos, and a Dino Ferrari.



ENGINE 1192cc flat-four (original)

POWER 25kW @ 3600rpm

TORQUE 82Nm @ 3600rpm

TRANSMISSION 4-speed manual

DRIVETRAIN Rear-wheel drive

LENGTH 4.14m

WEIGHT 820kg

WHEELS 15-inch steel

FUEL CLAIM 7.3L/100km

TOP SPEED 120km/h

OWNER Michael Fisher, Auckland



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