What Do You Do When Your Dad Carjacks You?
By Susan Anderson
So, here’s Paz. He’s a new driver. Having grown up in Latin America, his first car was a Brazilian-built Volkswagen. He’s living his life, doing teenager stuff, when he suddenly realizes his dad has totally jacked his car.
Dad’s souped it up. He’s driving it around town. He’s got the keys on his keyring. Pretty much anyone can see what’s happened by now – Dad’s caught a raging case of Dub Fever, and it’s irreversible. Good guy that he is, Paz’ dad replaces the Beetle with a Land Cruiser. Not bad, but of course, not a Volkswagen.
Fast forward a few years, and Paz joins the United States Air Force. Stationed out at Travis Air Force Base, he does what all good soldiers do, and buys a car. A red one, of course, a 1969 red Karmann Ghia that ran “most of the time” and was a solid little daily driver until some numbnut threw a rock at it and cracked the windshield. Now, soldiers are tough, but that hurt.
Paz numbed the pain of being Ghia-less for a few decades. He went back to school and soon landed a highly stressful job in the Air Force. By now, he was married to a very smart woman. She encouraged him to release his job-related stress the best way any guy can… with a sportscar, of course.
Now, while there was some debate going on between getting a Porsche or a Karmann Ghia, her vote was cast for the Ghia. Paz began his hunt. As you’d expect of a military family, they moved frequently. With a baby on the way, Paz picked up a 1971 Karmann Ghia in Montana then moved to Florida… and that’s where he began to understand the extent of work needed. This Ghia was typical of pre-restoration Florida classic cars, a sort of robin’s egg blue and weeping rust color.
Not exactly pristine, this convertible Ghia had an unusual feature. When you turned right, the passenger door would swing open. How’s that for adventure? But wait, there’s more! Someone along the way had ‘repaired’ the Ghia with cement and fiberglass, adding to the raise-your-eyebrows quotient.
However, it was a Ghia, and Paz figured he’d get it restored. It was a 1972-73 with wraparound turn signals and square bumpers. He started looking for a restoration shop in earnest, and chose Airkooled Kustoms in Hazel Green, Alabama. When he brought his ride to the shop, he had every intention of rolling out a while later with a silver Ghia with a black top. He left the car in the shop’s hands and went back to Florida… and then Afghanistan. Courtesy of the Internet, and Spook’s meticulous photographic documentation, Paz was able to watch his Ghia’s restoration in progress.
He took some ribbing, of course. “A Ghia? That’s a chick car!” was a go-to heckle he got from some of his colleagues. He soon devised the perfect reply, along the lines of being so macho that he needed his car to dial it back a bit in order to spare their own feelings of insecurity. They also ribbed him saying that this car he was stalking long-distance probably wasn’t even his; it was just some random car he found online.
There was a LOT of restoration work to watch. If you’ll remember, this ride has been labeled a 1971, a 1972, and a 1973 car… but it gets more complicated from here. After Paz’ Ghia returned from blast, there was a not-so-shocking discovery. There wasn’t a whole lot left of it. In fact, all that was truly salvageable was the hood, the door hardware, and the motor. The pan was a nightmare all its own, with fiberglass halfway up the body on the inside to “repair” the rotten floors and channels. The original core car was so far gone (thank you, Florida salt air) that the parts car Airkooled Kustoms had planned to cannibalize ended up being the better core to build. It happens!
Ever grafted on a 1967-69 nose? Ever clipped the rear of a Ghia? That’s just part of what happened next. After lots and lots of metal work, the Ghia began to look more like a Ghia and less like a rust bucket. Soon it was time for paint, and Paz had a big decision to make. While he’s always envisioned silver and black, he became smitten with Spook’s kustom Azure Blue (a brilliant choice, we think you’ll agree) and an oatmeal top and interior. This car’s so beautiful it almost doesn’t even need to move at all to be impressive, but of course, it can.
Some of this beautiful custom build’s juicy details:
• A Red 9 Design suspension
• Kustom Airkooled Kustoms paint in Azure Blue
• Light tan interior and door cards
• BMW power seats wrapped with the same tan leather
• TMI cloth convertible top
• Oatmeal carpet
• Inspected, cleaned, and painted motor and transmission
• Stock rims with aluminum trim and hubcaps
When we last saw Paz’ Ghia, it was pulling out of the shop’s driveway atop a trailer, and headed south and east. Paz has big plans for this long-awaited dream car. He’ll show it off at work (Ha! Told you the car was real!). He’ll let his son have his first ride in it (he was a baby when the car first came in for restoration). He’ll take his lovely wife out for drives along the coast, top down of course. He’ll make an appearance at nearby car shows, and maybe even at Cruise the Coop.
But one thing’s for sure. While Paz’ dad will no-doubt get a ride in this gorgeous Karmann Ghia, he will not get the keys!