Films: This VW Type 34 Ghia 'Razor' Is The Beauty Next To The Beach

This VW Type 34 Ghia ‘Razor’ Is The Beauty Next To The Beach

Photography by Ted Gushue

Our friend Matt Jacobson isn’t your average collector. He loathes hoarding. In so many areas of his life his only rule is: one in, one out. After years of searching he found the Type 34 Ghia he’d been dreaming of. Shortly after, something else had to leave the garage. There are so few of these in America that when he told me that he had one I had to genuinely pick my jaw up off of the floor.

Ted Gushue: Tell me the story of your Type 34 Karmann-Ghia.

Matt Jacobson: I always loved the car. It’s so elegant, it has this look of an Italian sports car of the era with all the VW underpinnings, and that extra foot, or however little bit longer it is than the regular Karmann Ghia platform. It’s very well-proportioned. The rear end is evocative of a round tail light BMW 2002. And, it has this bubble top roof that sits on very narrow B pillars that make it look like the hardtop of a Mercedes 300SL Roadster.

I had been looking for an original or mostly original example and since the car was never originally imported to America, very few were around, and, most of the ones I did see had been lowered and modified. Petrolicious actually has the most complete write up on the Type 34 and while there is a small community of Type 34 collectors online, the details are pretty sparse. ISP West in Carson, is owned by Alex Pagado, has really done the most to build interest in Type 34 VWs.

He knew I was looking for a Type 34, and didn’t want to show me his personal car that was hiding under a cover in his shop. He loved it and didn’t want to sell, but we ultimately figured that out. Without Alex’s VW knowledge and inventory, I wouldn’t have been able to put together such a great collection of early, unrestored cars.

TG: Why wouldn’t you seek out a regular Karmann Ghia? Is there something you have against those?

MJ: As a kid, there were a lot of Karmann Ghias around, and they just never spoke to me. I have a greater appreciation for them now, but they lack the lines of the Type 34. The Type 34’s are often referred to as “razors” because of that sharp crease around the beltline. I think it just makes it so elegant and beautiful, and the regular Karmann Ghias don’t have that. I’m starting to look at Karmann Ghias differently. I’ve seen some great ones around, but they just haven’t done it for me.

TG: You said BMW 2002. What other designs channel into this car?

MJ: Yeah. It’s kind of Corvair mixed with 2002. It has that kind of pancake look that a Corvair has, and the tail lights definitely remind me of 2002, although it predated the 2002. To me, the most beautiful part of that car is that big wrap around rear window and the really, really thin pillar that holds the top right behind the driver. The integrated side vents behind the front passenger are pretty great. I also love the Nutria brown paint topped by the cream top and interior. It’s a great package.

TG: What’s the driving experience like?

MJ: It drives great … that extra length … it’s like the difference if you’ve ever driven a 450SLC Mercedes, which is about 14 inches longer than a 450SL. It just has this touring car feel to it. I don’t know that the Type 34 really feels like a touring car, but it feels just more substantial on the road. The drive is much different than a Beetle or standard Karmann Ghia.

TG: What do you have under the hood?

MJ: It’s a little warmed over stock motor. I think it’s an 1,835-cc, that looks bone stock, but it’s been built, so it definitely moves. There are some accessories on the car that are interesting. It has an original stainless Abarth exhaust. It’s really well-tuned and sounds great. It’s got the early 914 steering wheel which the Porsche guys get jacked up about because it’s the first generation 914 steering wheel with a Wolfsburg logo on it, rather than the Porsche logo. It’s a super collectible wheel. It also has blanking plates where the side markers would go that say Karmann. The period-correct Marchal headlights and yellow lens fog lamps really add to the beauty of the front of the car.

TG: How do people react to it when you roll up to a VW meet or a cars and coffee?

MJ: A lot of people have never seen one before, right? People talk about Type 34s…You see them in Europe, and they’ll be slammed super low and have all the badges removed. That’s not my look, I love them as stock as possible. This car is stock height, and it has this weird look to it where it’s almost a little bit higher in the front than the back, which I normally would hate, but I think it’s kind of cool on this car.

Type 34 Ghias are kind of like the Yeti. It’s often talked about, rarely seen. There’s just not that many people that’ve ever seen one.

TG: What would you change about it if you could?

MJ: I wouldn’t change much. I’m on the search for a set of beauty rings that are this kind of X pattern, almost like a wire wheel beauty ring. That’s really the only part I’ve been looking for. I love that car has a factory stereo radio in it. Most Volkswagens at the time didn’t even have a radio.  I’m thinking about doing a rally next year, and this is the car to do it in.

I’m really just happy that people are rediscovering Volkswagens which were so purpose built, form following function to a great extent, except for the eccentricities of this car. It’s a stretch, but the Type 34 is kind of like what Volkswagen did when they introduced the 12-cylinder Phaeton. It was so out of the box for them when they introduced this car, the way it was designed and the way it was made, and it was longer and more expensive. I like that Volkswagen was doing that in the mid 60s. These cars are special.

Thanks to Matt for taking the time to discuss his stunning Type 34. You can keep up with him on Instagram

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9 Comments on "This VW Type 34 Ghia ‘Razor’ Is The Beauty Next To The Beach"

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Dennis
Dennis

Not sure I got the reference for one in, one out. However, this car is an absolute beauty. Nice images. Looks like you used adobe audition cs6 to touch up a bit, but it looks great.

Peter Lukáč
Peter Lukáč

I am big fan of classic Karmann Ghia, since I had seen one blue coupé in Croatia, I love it’s classic lines. But there is too something special about Type 34. Was wondering, how it looks like, and I have to agree with Matt. It looks a Corvair mixed with 2002. I like elegant color combination of Matt’s car and that yellow lights. It look pretty decent.

Jaime Baker
Jaime Baker

Losing the smell of an original car is one of the downsides of restoring them. The smell of a classic Volkswagon brings back some happy memories for me.
As for the car, what a beautiful example and I like Matt’s perspective on things.

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Matt’s my kind of car guy. what a great attitude. Things are for using. That’s why I like old Datsuns and Volvos. This Ghia really pushes all the buttons, beauty, quality, personality, originality, simplicity-so cool! My only critique would be the steering wheel. As cool as it is, it’s a little too much ’70s era plastic front and center for my taste.

Mark St Clair
Mark St Clair

“Vintage cars” ? Dude, we aren’t discussing Model Ts here. As for the 34, I have never been a fan. I looked at it objectively here but still have to say the original is still the best. Those swoopy lines can never be beaten. If I had to have a 34 though, I would choose this one. It’s a very nice example.

Pedro Campuzano
Pedro Campuzano

Another great video, a beautiful 34! I love the smell of my old Mercedes, like perfume to my nose. Volkswagens have a similar yet distinct smell, this car has the looks and sound to go with the lovely smell. Love to have one! Congratulations Matt.

Bill Meyer
Bill Meyer

Another bullseye ! I love it when you folks find such cool and little known cars to profile. As a car crazy kid in LA during the late ’60’s I used to see these Type 34 KG’s fairly often. Pretty rare these days although I saw one at a car show here in Prescott, Arizona last summer.

bobby
bobby

Matt hits the experience on the head. I have 2 unrestored every man classics and the joy of driving them is a combination of the smell, the sounds and the feel of a well used old friend. Thanks Petrolicious!

Michael Squeo
Michael Squeo

Through the years I’ve seen photos of the Type 34 but never have I seen one in person. This is probably the closest I will ever get. It’s a beautiful car. Thanks Matt and thanks Petrolicious.

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