TYP 34  =  der  große  Karmann Ghia

                                                                                                                         Letzter Stand: 01. 03. 2010

History and Information (english version)

Most of you are well aware of the VW Type 34 Karmann Ghia, the "other" Karmann Ghia, or as the British call it the "Razor Edge Ghia".
Germans call it "der Grosse Karmann Ghia" (the large Karmann Ghia), and the Americans call it the "Type 3 Ghia".
The Type 34 is a rare and unique model produced by the combined talent of three companies; Volkswagen, Carrozzeria Ghia, and Wilhelm Karmann Coachwerks. 
Here is a concise story about the Type 34.

Volkswagen began thinking about a successor to the Beetle in the mid-to-late 1950's. At the time, they were getting a great deal of flack from both the public and press because of the Beetles outdated basic design. VW also knew they needed to enter into the middle-class marketplace. By offering a series of models with more power, comfort, standard equipment, and room than their beloved Beetle, VW hoped to offer Beetle owners an upgrade path. Of course, an upscale car would have a higher price as well. So, to respond to this need, VW designers began, in '58-'59, working on a new series of cars while trying to keep the basic VW principles of economy, durability and functionality intact. The goal was creating a line of mid-market cars. By relocating the
fan shroud of the Type I engine and running the fan off of the crankshaft, VW designers came up with an engine layout that allowed space in the rear of the car to be used for an additional luggage compartment.

This new "pancake" engine design satisfied the additional luggage space requirement. Stylists squared off the body, allowing for more interior space and comfort. The marketing department also added several features to the list of standard equipment; features that were previously non-existent or optional extras on the Beetle and its low priced competitors. The models that VW proposed for this new VW 1500 series were the basic Sedan (Notchback), station-wagon (Variant or Squareback), and a sports coupe (Karmann Ghia). The plan for the 1500 series included building a convertible based on both the sedan and the Karmann Ghia.
Neither of these proposals went into production because of structural problems with reinforcing the topless body. In 1956, the exotic was needed. Italians styled with flair. VW chose Carrozzeria Ghia of Turin, Italy. The Ghia firm had done an excellent job designing the first (Type I) Karmann Ghia. Click on the engine on the left to hear the smooth sound of a T34 engine!

How to build the car? VW knew they would not be able to handle mass production of a relatively low volume sports coupe at the Volkswagenwerk factory. So, VW turned to an off-site builder, Wilhelm Karmann Coachwerks of Osnabruck, West Germany.
Karmann had an excellent relationship with VW, since they manufactured both the Beetle Cabriolet and all Karmann Ghia models.

Carrozzeria Ghia began working on the initial sketches for the VW 1500 Karmann Ghia in late 1958. Sergio Sartorelli, chief Ghia designer, had three sketches ready only days after the contract was awarded. One design was chosen for continued work, and Ghia took it from there. Sartorelli had a completed drivable prototype ready by the end of 1959. VW agreed to produce the prototype Karmann Ghia, with only a few changes. By the September 1961, Frankfurt Auto Show, which was the premier of the entire VW 1500 series, Carrozzeria Ghia had the final production model ready and on display. The show featured the prototype
Cabriolet as well.

The VW Type 34 Karmann Ghia, the flagship of the VW 1500 series, is a notable Volkswagen in several areas. It was the only VW ever available with built-in fog lamps and an electric steel-sliding sunroof (models 345/346). Its styling is, at the very least, controversial. To many enthusiasts and admirers, it is a beautiful and elegant design. While it was never exported to the USA, there are over 300 registered here today. Mass production of the Type 34 Karmann Ghia began in March 1962 at the Karmann factory; and ceased in July 1969, after a total of 42,510 coupes were completed. The Type 34 was not a successful sales model for VW. It was high-priced (as much as a Porsche 356); sales weren't boosted by access to the large American market; and the unusual styling, say some, cut demand. Approximately 70% of the 42,510 produced remained in Germany (30,000) and 30% were exported (12,500) to countries like England, Canada, Australia/New Zealand and other European countries.
The "Type 34 KG Registry" believes that there are approximately 2500 remaining Type 34s worldwide. The high attrition rate is due to rust caused by the salted roadways common to many countries, and to the obsoleteness of replacement parts. The majority of the remaining cars are in original but unrestored condition, with rust in the wheel wells and battery areas.

Few Type 34 Ghias have been restored to original condition but far fewer of the "other" Ghia are on the road today. That helps make the VW Type 34 Karmann Ghia a rare and valuable collector's item among those who know of its rarity and history. The current value of T34s depends on their condition & location in the world: unrestored daily-driven T34s range from $2500-$4000, nicely restored drivers range from $6000 - $12,000, and the best of all, low-mileage original restored drivers (in excellent show-quality condition) range from $7000 - $15,000, depending on their year and model. There are more T34s in the USA than any other country so their prices are a bit lower since the supply is greater. But they are usually less rusty than European T34s as well.