I love it when a good story comes full circle!
It was at the Mallory Park reopening way back in March that I first spotted what turned out to be Dick Lewis’ stunning ’67 Karmann Ghia Convertible. We were blessed with some fantastic sunshine that day which made the deep metallic red paint really pop so I just had to photograph it, grabbing my iPhone as quickly as I could. Later that day, once back home with a good cuppa I uploaded a few pictures of the day onto Facebook, among them this gorgeous ‘vert. Within minutes someone had tagged Dick, and we instantly struck up a conversation – I knew then this HAD to grace our pages.
Due to the nature of our magazine sometimes there is quite a lead time between gathering a feature car up and getting it onto these hallowed pages.
So come mid-September I was delighted to be able to return to Mallory Park to run a dedicated photo-shoot of the Ghia, again in fantastic weather and with an amazing backdrop to suit! That is no small achievement to be able to commandeer a live racing circuit on a public track day in order to run some static shots, this took some serious string pulling, to which an immense thanks is extended to Geof Wilson of Machine7 and to Chris Hewgill at Mallory Park.
As it turns out, the Ghia has quite the story to it too – having been owned by Dick’s wife’s boss (are you keeping up?) Apparently he had done all of the hard graft in getting this left hand drive U.S import example restored and the ‘vert was just awaiting paint when funds and time ran out, you know the part when ‘life gets in the way’? Well, that is when Dick stepped up and scooped the entire car for what must be tied up in the engine alone! Said engine being none other than a full race-spec John Maher built 2110cc rated at roughly 180BHP now, breathing through monstrous twin 45 Webber carbs. The choice of colour is a very interesting one- the eagle eyed among you will have noticed that it is not a standard Volkswagen hue, but it takes more thinking to get your head around the fact that that gorgeous colour once called a Toyota home. Yep, this is in fact Mica Garnet Red, and not a House of Kolor creation as I presume it must have been!
Of course, a killer paint scheme is nothing without a purposeful stance to compliment it, this being duly taken care of with a narrowed and adjustable beam, teamed with CSP 2 1/4” dropped spindles, with the front end riding on Bugpack short shocks. Complimented with a back end that’s been lowered by 25mm (1”) on the original torsion bars, this Ghia gives a useable but hunkered down look. A set of original, fully polished, Porsche 2.0ltr 914 alloys now tucks up inside those arches to finish off the package beautifully.
Inside the cockpit you’ll find a full tan leather interior by Bernard Newbury from which to pilot this beast – and what a beast it is with 180BHP on tap in something weighing approximately 840kg..!
Out back a Gene Berg 1 5/8” match length header with home brewed, tucked, twin quiet pack mufflers really made that motor sing through the Leicestershire hills as we moved around the circuit on our shoot. Luckily those stock discs up front and rear drums are amble in stopping this animal due largely to its lightweight nature of being a convertible.
What Dick has managed to achieve here is something quite out of the ordinary, with a car that most would expect to see on the plinths and stands of a high end U.S show yet be equally at home on the 1⁄4 mile highway yet still Dick uses this as it was intended – for pounding the street! “There’s nothing quite like this when the suns out, the top’s down and those 6×9 speakers and 8” sub are drowned out with the noise of those carbs gulping air in” With nothing between your ears and the deck lid vents, Dick is quite correct when he says those carbs take over the soundtrack with this ride, if not those twin quiet packs roaring away this is quite the assault on your senses!
Well if having an immensely enviable car isn’t enough, Dick really tops out the charts by being one of the nicest guys you could ever wish to come across in the VW scene, which is superbly reassuring just what can be done with a home build, without letting the end result run away with itself. After all, it would be a shame to be scared of driving something so awe inspiring, wouldn’t it?
A huge thanks must go out to Mallory Park for the use of their track for this shoot, reinforcing their stake as The Friendly Circuit. If you haven’t, check them out at www.malloryparkcircuit. com and be sure to get to one of their events- they cater for bike and car fans alike, running public track days and even holding a Cycle Mallory event too!