Top ten most common (or costly) mistakes when restoring a Karmann Ghia


General Areas:

1. Do the body and mechanical first, the interior last.

2. Do not cut out damaged sheet metal BEFORE you receive replacement panels (cutting an inch too much can be miles of heartache). Some Ghia sheet metal is very hard to find.

3. Paint:

a. Disassembly: Remove all exterior rubber seals, bumpers, lights, molding, chrome and glass. If it is your first Ghia; take a few pictures first, then “Bag & Tag” all related parts together. A simple thing like threading nuts/screws back on the parts they came from will save you hours when assembling.

b. Be sure to remove dirt/pealing paint from under the rear deck lid louvers. Ask the painter to pay special attention to this area. Also the area where the body curves under, particularly the nose and rocker panels (under the doors). Both prep and painting.

c. Inspect your Ghia in general just before spraying.

In Particular:

4. When mounting the Door Glass to the Lift Channel inside the Door, NEVER tighten the upper two bolts (that go through the Door Glass) more than ½ turn past snug or BOOM goes the Glass.

5. The rear Hood Seal only goes ½ way around the bottom of the Rear Deck Lid opening. In there design wisdom, the Germans thought this is the way it should be and never changed it throughout production. The mistake here is that people with cut down the front hood seal to fit the back.

6. On 69 and later Ghias, to remove the “D” gas door handle (under the dash on the passenger side) pull the handle out to open the gas door. In this position grab the coiled wire just below the handle with needle-nose pliers. While holding firmly so it does not spin, turn the “D” handle counter clockwise to unscrew it. If you try this without the pliers, a second wire inside the coil will break from the twisting and a new, rather expensive unit will need to be purchased.

7. Take off the Mud Sills (also known as Hinge Pillar Cover Plates). This is the plate at the back of the front wheel wells. There are two bolts you can see inside the wheel well, and on 68 and later models, one stud that sticks through the back corners of the front deck opening. Behind them you will find rust causing gunk 90% of the time. From here the rust will quickly invade your rocker panels, which are the thin but structurally significant body beams that run under the side doors. Replace with new seals and reinstall.

8. Door Check Strap, Pin & Rollers, need to be in good shape (about $15 a door). This assembly built into the upper Hinge keeps them from swinging too far and causing damage to the Door and/or Hinges. If you can lift up on your Door when it is open and feel a little play, at least one Hinge is bad ($40). You may be able to replace just the bottom Hinge as it usually goes first and then takes the top Hinge with it ($40), which then chews up your striker (holds the Door Latch to the car when closed, (another $40) and then breaks the Latch (mechanism inside the door…$50-$125 depending on year). Don’t delay on setting this area right!

9. Removing the 1/4 window chrome molding Use a little WD40 (or something stronger if you are not worried about the paint) and spray it in-between the chrome molding and the body. Pull/push/pry this piece FORWARD. After it moves forward about 1″, it will lift off easily, the only resistance being the old caulking. Door top Scraper Molding on pre 1960 models also slide forward (with the door open) until they reach an open area in their bottom channel. When you get one off, it will be very clear how it all works.

10. Make sure the drain holes in the bottom of your doors are open. A butter knife is a good tool for this if you do not have the door panels off. Water is going to get in your door. If these 3 holes are plugged, the Door will rust and the upholstery panels will warp.

Got any more of your own to add? I would love to hear from you and save someone else a little heartache.


Scott – “The Ghia Guy”

Restoration Budget Estimations

I sat down with the car and tried to make note of everything I want to do as if money where no object.  This is what I came up with.

Engine – $4000

Transaxel – $2000


  • Carpet – $200
  • Seats – $400
  • Dash – $650
  • Panels – $150
  • Stereo – $400
  • Gauges – $400
  • Headliner – $100


Rubber Kits – $1100

Wheels & Tires – $1200

Brakes & Suspension – $600

Glass – $300

Paint & Body

  • Panels & Supplies – $1000
  • Trim – $100
  • Mirrors – $150
  • Wipers – $100
  • Bumpers – $1200
  • Grills – $150
  • Badging – $200


Lighting – $400

Fuel – $300

Electrical – $400

Misc – $500

If my math is correct, I’m looking at $16,000.  It’s a little more than I though it would been, then again, my original $12,000 estimate was from 2009.

Torque Specifications for VW type 1 – 3

Part ………….ft-lb …….size (dia x pitch)



Connecting rod nut -24 -m 9×1

Connecting rod capscrew -32 -m 9×1

Crankcase nut -14 -m8

Crankcase nut -25 -m 12×1.5

Cylinder head nut -8 -mm 18 m 8

Cylinder head nut -10- mm 23 m 10

Rockershaft nut -18 -m 8

Heat Exchanger at head -14- m 8

Muffler Clamp bolts -7 -m 6

Intake manifold nut -14 -m 8

Preheat-flange bolt -7 -m 6

Oil Pump nut -14 -m 8

Oil Pump nut -9 -m 6

Oil Drain plug -25- m 14×1.5

Oil Strainer nut -5 -m 6

Oil cooler nut -5 -m 6

Oil filler gland nut- 40

Flywheel Gland nut -235 -m 28×1.5

Clutch bolt -18 -m 8×1.5

Sparkplug -25 m -14×1.25

Engine to trans nut -22 -m 10

Crossmember bolt -18 -m 8

Crossmember bolt -29 -m 10

Generator pulley nut -43 -m 12×1.5

Fan nut -43 -m 12×1.5

Crankshaft pulley nut -32 -m 20×1.5

Crossmember to body -18 -m 8

Fan/Crankshaft pulley -94-108 -m 20×1.5


Front Axle and Steering

Front Beam to pan bolts -36

Body to beam bolts -14

Shock to beam sideplate -14-m 10

Shock to beam sideplate -25- m 12

Shock to lower torsion arm -25

Steering damper to front beam bolt -32

Steering damper to tie rod -18

Tie rod to castle nut -18

Tie rod nut -18

Clamp for tie rod bolt -11

Lock nut for torsion set screw -36

Wheel bearing clamp screw -10

Steering ball joint to knuckle -51

Steering box to front beam -22

Steering coupler to worm shaft -18

Pitman arm to shaft bolt -51

Locknut for pitman arm adj screw -18

Lock nut for worm spindle adj screw -42

Steering box housing cover bolt -18

Canceling ring to steering wheel -3.5

Steering wheel nut -36

Steering column to dash bolts -7

Column switch to attach plate -7

Column switch clamp to housing -7

Steering coupling flange to disc -11

Column to couple flange bolt -11


Manual Transaxle

Drive pinion round nut ball bearing -87

Drive pinion round nut roller bearing -144

Pionion retainer nut -36

Pinion nut -43

Drive shaft nut -43

Reverse lever guide bolt -14

Selector fork bolt -18

Gearshift housing nuts -11

Ring gear bolts – 43

Final drive cover nuts -22

Axle tube retainer nuts -14

Rear wheel bearing retainer nut -43

Oil drain plug -14

Oil filler plug -14

Rear axle shaft nut -217

Transaxle to frame bolt -166


Master cylinder

Stop screw in housing bolt -7

Residual pressure valve to housing -14

Brake light switch -14

Master cylinder to to frame bolts -18

Brake line to master cylinder -18


Front Brakes

Splash sheild to steering knuckle bolts -7

Wheel cylinder to backing plate -18

Caliper housing screw (disc brake) -18

Backing plate bolt -36

Caliper mounting bolts (disc brake) -29

Bleeder valve -9

Clamp nut screws -9

Hose to wheel cylinder/caliper -14


Rear Brakes

Wheel cylinder to backing plate- 22

Bearing housing bolts -43

Brake drum to axle bolt -253

Lug nut 14mm -94

Lug nut 12mm -72


Pedal assembly

Pedal bracket to frame -32

Pedal stop to frame bolts -18