Adolph P 1963 type 34 Karmann Ghia

Remembering Dad

As a child growing up in the early 1980's Manila Philippines, my family had no form of transportation due to my Dad not having a permanent job. Living in a big city, there was no real need to have a car. We had vehicles that were loaned to us on occasion through my Dad's college friends. We have even had a Jeepney for a few months. As a child I have always had a childhood awe about the Automobile. So when one day my Dad drove in with a Tan colored early 1970's Type 14 (the regular round body) Karmann Ghia one day. I thought that it was about the greatest thing he's ever driven. I remember him telling me it's history and reputation about being the "poor man's Porsche". He continued to drive it for about two years and we managed to travel throughout Manila with it until he started having some issues with it and could no longer maintain it or maybe even had no idea of figuring out how to repair it. As mentioned previously, he wasn't much of a highly paid worker, nor does he have a steady paying job.

It eventually just sat in my grandmothers car park. In 1985, me, my brothers and my sister immigrated to the US. I never ever saw the car again, but the impression of it was forever etched in my mind.

In the early 2000's when I got out of the Army I finally made enough for myself that I started toying with the idea of owning one as well. I was thinking of getting the same type car as he did, but as I was Googling for a Karmann Ghia one day, I ended up spotting a unique looking car with sharp lines with a Volkswagen emblem. I didn't believe it at first that there was such a thing as a type 34 Ghia, but the more I researched it, the more I ended up seeing more images. I instantly fell in love with its body style and the simplicity of Volkswagen running gear. About a year later as I was going through the online car classifieds, to my surprise, I ended up seeing one for sale about 150 miles or so from where I lived. For a price that I couldn't resist, a mere $8,000. Yes, a little high for a regular Type 14 but a steal for a Type 34 that is complete and not much else to do. I threw a leave slip later that morning and convinced one of my office mates to come along.

This was the deal of a century!!!! As we drove to Portland Oregon and on to Salem, my more mechanically inclined friend told me as we drove the car for the first time. Adolph,,,,I would treat that car like Glass because it was that good looking and it looked so delicate and pristine. The engine sounded so good, it felt like you can drive it all day without a problem. I drove it home that day with a smile on my face from ear to ear. I felt like I had won the lottery and won a million dollars driving it around. I just thought to myself. Maybe this is what my Dad felt a few years ago riving his type 1. I love this car to death. I would take it out even on the wintery rainy months of the year in the Pacific Northwest just to have the pleasure of driving it and to have the sensation of the feel of it as well as the smells of its oil and fuel (a common VW trait for its time if you have ever owned one).

The car is still in my possession to this day and I still love driving it. I hope that I would never ever see the day I would sell it, but nothing lasts forever. So as My Dad passed away recently, I would remember the times we have had in his car and the joy we had driving around Manila in it. For me, it was our bond, and as he passed on. I would always think of him when I drove my car. Thank you for the fond memories Dad.

3 Reader Comments

  • 1
    j. k. salser, jr. garland, tx 75042 June 10, 2015 at 14:44
    This is a really neat story, Adolph! You are so correct--the T-34 in the USA is a rare vehicle. It was produced for the European market. The price which you paid was quite reasonable. The car will draw attention anywhere you drive it. Happy Memories of your Father and Happy Motoring! j k
  • 2
    Tommy M Spring Tx June 12, 2015 at 14:40
    My Dad was my car buddy all through my childhood years. He was into cars, and therefore so was I. He had a '57 Thunderbird and was in the Classic Thunderbird Club of Houston, and so I was always with him at their events. We drove to California for a national meet (5,000 miles in two weeks, with 970 miles the last day) and had a blast. I transitioned into Mustangs when I hit 16, but still loved the T-Birds. We were always pulling motors, trying to paint them and just having fun together. We became involved in the Shelby club SAAC, and we found a couple of Shelbys back in the early 1980s. He's 96 now, and we still talk cars all the time. He still has his T-Bird and I still have the KR convertible we drug out of a guy's front yard in 1981. We're going to get his T-Bird running this summer and take it to the local street meet. His love of cars and allowing me to be involved and be a part of the group has been a cornerstone of my passion for cars. I love getting dirty and trying to do professional level restoration work in my back garage. He's always ready to throw in a recommendation on how to do something. My Dad has always been there for me. He's my car buddy! At 96, every day is a blessing, a true gift from God.
  • 3
    NewtyNewt 3rd rock from the Sun June 13, 2015 at 11:26
    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I too have many fond memories of my dad and cars. I hope your car lasts many years so those memories continue on while enjoying the drive.

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