The British Invasion Hits Karmann Ghia Parts and Restoration
You may have heard of this wild cat Brit named Mike Brewer. He is the host of the British hit “Wheeler Dealer UK” which airs on Discovery’s HD Channel. In the show Mike finds the vintage cars, Edd China restores them and then (hopefully) they are flipped for a profit. The show is based in the UK with some excursions (so we have read) to the continent, but in mid-April “Wheeler Dealer” took Mike to the USA and to Karmann Ghia Parts & Restoration in beautiful Ventura, CA. Mike had picked up a 1969 Karmann Ghia Convertible out of Idaho (with an EMPI GT steering wheel no less!), Mike and crew came to Karmann Ghia Parts & Restoration to gather all the parts (aka “Bits and Spares”) to take back to England where his partner Edd would do the restoration.
In our opinion here at KGPR Mike could’ve done much better in the profit department when all was said and done by picking up something a little more rough. It has been our experience that you purchase mainly on the merits of the body. If there is damage such as collision or rust, much better that it is confined to as few areas as possible. For more on that; see Scott’s “Sizing up a Ghia for Restoration” article.
Alas as you can see in the show Mike chose to go the more “traditionally television” route and picks up something that could be easily fixed and frilled for T.V. and done in time to crank out a new episode.
Since the Ghia Mike had picked up was sitting back in jolly old England, “Wheeler Dealer” asked us for a small favor. They needed a car. They were looking for a Ghia that would “closely resemble the 1969 ½ convertible” that they were restoring for those shots cruising the California coast. The 1969 was the last year of the small tail lights and bullet style turn signals used since 1960 and the first year for IRS. Then, half way through the 69 model year, the convertible top lines changes to a flatter profile which included a fold down glass window replacing the fixed plastic window. Next to the “Low Light” convertibles (1958 & 59 model years), this is thought by many to be the most desirable. It also happens to be the KGPR logo car and Scott the owner’s daily driver. Scott told them if they wanted something “like” a 69 ½ convertible, they needed to use a 69 ½ convertible. So he offered his up for the driving scenes. Little did he know that he would later be drafted as stunt driver as well.
Scott recalls; “I was to follow two feet behind the camera van while they shot with a wide angle lens. Sounds easy enough, until the speeds started reaching 50 MPH, then two feet seemed more like inches! The best part was having the CHP secure the roads to allow me not just to tale-gate; but speed, swerve, split lanes and basically drive like a maniac for the scenes with the black and white ghia. When I saw the show, the wide angle lens was so wide it doesn’t look like we are a foot away from swapping paint”.
The following day, cast and crew came to KGPR to film the purchasing of needed parts for their project. So our regular counter man and Tech Guru (as seen in most of our Tech Videos) Rodney. After the needed shots were secured, W.D. host Mike took our general manager Dave’s 2332 turbo Bug for a spin with Scott filming from the passenger seat. To say he was surprised at its performance would be an understatement. To see his reaction, check out our behind the scenes video and interview with Mike at KGPR at http://www.airheadparts.com/wheelerdealer . Along with Mike, director Matt and crew were a great bunch of guys and it was a pleasure helping them get the footage they needed and more importantly, to spread the word and possibly motivate other would-be VW enthusiasts to join the hobby.