Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fat Chick: 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Type 14

When Volkswagen decided to diversify their product portfolio in the mid 1950s they did so with the help of Luigi Segre from carrozzeria Ghia and hand built bodywork from karosseriebauer Karmann.  The result was a stylish coupe that used styling themes that Ghia had previously explored with Chrysler and Studebaker mated to the simple Beetle floorpan.  It was a such a good looking car (for something from the 1950s) that even Virgil Exner claimed some credit for the design -- and it does look like a 5/8ths scale Chrysler D'Elegance.  Find this 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Type 14 offered for $8,000 in San Carlos, CA via craigslist.  Tip from Kaibeezy.

According to the Ghia owners on theSamba, the 70-74 Ghias are called "fat chicks" because of their larger tail lights, turn signals, and bigger bumpers -- but the name also seems to apply to Super Beetles and some people throw the term at any air cooled 4-lug Volkswagen...but who knows.

Powering this Type 14 is 1600cc flat-4 that puts out an unknown quantity of horsepower and makes a tweety-tweety zing-zing putt-putt bratta-ratta exhaust noise.  Nothing sounds like the Volkswagen flat-4.

The interior of this Ghia is a bit scruffy, but it just needs some work.  We'd replace those vice grips window rollups with a pair of factory original style vice grips. 

See another fat chick?


  1. "We'd replace those vice grips window rollups with a pair of factory original style vice grips"

    You guys crack me up!

    1. Missed opportunity: "You guys crank me up!"

  2. are they vice-grips or vise-grips? - why is the steering wheel upside down? - is this a rare 5-lug 4-lug VW? - if Mittens chose to save baby penguin based on his beliefs, and Mittens' beliefs are not in his direct control, does Mittens really have free will?

    1. Usually a "vise", but when used for window cranks they're a "vice".

      The steering wheel appears upside down because it's been turned 180 degrees. Look at the front tires, they're not straight. Steering wheels are designed to rotate in both a clockwise and counter-clockwise direction. This allows the vehicle to be maneuvered in a left or right direction. ;)

      Looks like Mittens did a 4-lug to 5-lug conversion to be able to run Fuchs.

    2. oh, yeah? - if it's 180 degrees, and that's got to be celsius because it's a german car, how can you even touch it??? - and i should listen to a person who doesn't even have a name???

      ... thump... meeEEOOWWWwwrrrr!!!

      dammit, mittens, stay off my computer!

    3. You can touch it if you're wearing mittens. Rimshot! See what I did there? That was a callback. I'm here all night. Don't forget to tip your waitress.

    4. how"s the veal? - something something steering veal, i dunno - but all seriousness aside, pick a dingly dang name already :P

    5. No free will. None whatsoever. A ridiculous myth perpetuated by proselytizers of every ilk.

      I use this rhetorical crutch to assuage my morning-after guilt when I've bought (yet) another car I've found on these pages.

  3. As an air-cooled VW fanatic, I must comment on the "fat chick" moniker. This has become a catch-all term for the later cars and it is misguided (not to mention horribly sexist, but that's a completely different topic I'll avoid here). Here is why the name is wrong for this car and many others:

    "Fat chick" really only applies to 1973 and later Super Beetles and the Karmann convertible versions. These were the ones that received the larger front end (for the MacPherson struts), curved windshield, dashboard, and "elephant foot" tail lights. Compared to the standard Beetle (which was available simultaneously), the Super looked "fat". As a side note, '71 and '72 Supers still had the flat windshield and therefore aren't true "fat chicks".

    Essentially, VW's product line in the 1960s and 1970s can be broken down to four major components. Type I (Beetle/Bug), Type II (Transporter/Bus), Type III (Notch/Fast/Squareback), and Ghia. For the sake of simplicity, I'm leaving out the Type 4, Type 34, etc. because they were sold in smaller numbers.

    Each of these models went through evolutionary changes, but really, only the Beetle went through a major transformation that made it look significantly larger than the original. It could be argued that the Bus did too in 1968, but it has its own moniker of "Bay Window". Most VW fans won't refer to a 1968-1979 Bus as a fat chick.

    For the Type IIIs and especially Ghias, the changes were mostly limited to larger bumpers and lights to satisfy US regulations. The Type III got a peaked hood, but changes to the rest of the body are hard to spot. The changes didn't really make the cars look fatter.

    This black Ghia definitely doesn't qualify as a "fat chick" because through 1971 the Ghia retained its smaller bumpers. The tail lights were an in-between size as well compared to 1969 and 1972.

    In conclusion, it's a matter of semantics and it seems likely the 1970s VWs with larger lights and bumpers will always be tagged as "fat chicks", but now you are better informed and you too can be a smarty-pants and correct someone who applies the moniker incorrectly.

    1. The door is open, Stan...

  4. Just sold 2 of these last year (both verts). Love me some KGs.

    Got more compliments and nods driving this car than anything else I've ever owned.

    And when you're going downhill with the wind at your back (so, over 40 mph), 4 wheel drifting in a KG is a pure delight. : )

    1. i'm thinking the KG is about as far down the other end of the spectrum as you can get from an RM, which similarly gets endless nods and compliments (amiright, Jefe?) - would make a lovely pair in a driveway

    2. Cool idea, kaibeezy.

      Would a KG fit in the back of a Buick RM?

    3. one in the wayback, one on the roof rack


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