1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia
4-cyl. 1585cc/46hp 1bbl
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This year 1974 saw the end of a number of models in the U.S. market, both domestic and imported. Some cars simply could not be modified to meet stricter crash tests, while incoming regulations for unleaded gas, presented requirement for catalytic converts to be fitted in 1975. The 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia was one of them.
Production began in August 1973 and ended in Europe in December that year. U.S. cars continued to be delivered until June 1974 but some records indicate no Convertibles were produced, so it’s possible those sold in the U.S. were leftover 1973 models.
In any event the last year Karmann Ghia total is listed at 7167 Coupes, and any Convertibles could have been part of the 2555 total built the previous year. The Coupe cost $3475 and the Convertible $3935.
The 1974 Coupe advertised 14 cubic feet of storage space behind the front seat, basically where the rear seat had been. The energy-absorbing rear bumper was extended to meet the new 2.5 mph collision requirement and the front bumper met the 5 mph regulation. Front disc brakes had floating calipers and larger brake pads. Inertia reel seatbelts were now interlocked with the ignition so the car could not be started until they were clicked in place – an idea that lasted exactly one year.
Karmann Ghia models utilized the final version of their air-cooled engine, the twin-port 1585 cc flat-four, producing 46 net bhp. Numerous options were available at extra cost, including air-conditioning, AM/FM stereo, wood steering wheel and shift knob, rubber mats, racing stripes and even a tissue dispenser.
When the dust settled, what had original been seen as a slim luxury segment of the Volkswagen Beetle market had been a huge success. It was proof that people would pay for elegance and quality construction, even with modest performance.